The Best Smoked Rib Rub Recipe You’ll Ever Use
Everyone loves some good barbecue pork ribs. Even for barbecue fanatics, though, it can be tough to get ribs as delicious as the kind you get from a quality restaurant.
Much of this issue comes right down to not knowing what you're doing wrong. Nine times out of ten, it's the spices; that meaning, you're not using enough or the right ones.
All good barbecue is born out of an equally good spice rub, so without a dry rub, you're already losing out. In many cases, it's even more important than barbecue sauce in getting the perfect ribs.
So what kind of spices should you use? Let's take a look at the best smoked rib rub you could ever use to find out, plus some tips and tricks for cooking ribs that will serve you well.
In order to follow this recipe, you'll need to gather some supplies. This includes:
- 1 rack pork spareribs (3 lbs or so).
- 1 cup dark brown sugar.
- 1/2 cup sweet paprika.
- 2 1/2 tbsp kosher salt.
- 2 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper.
- 1 tbsp mustard powder.
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano.
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder.
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
- 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.
- 1 pint apple juice or apple cider.
- Barbecue sauce of choice (as desired).
- Plastic spray bottle.
- Food-safe brush.
- Aluminum foil.
- Plastic wrap.
- Paper towels.
- Large sheet pan.
- Charcoal smoker.
- Chunk charcoal.
- Apple wood chunks or chips.
Once you've gathered your materials, all that's left is to begin work on the recipe.
Step 1: Season
Mix your dry spices together in a small bowl or other container.
If it hasn't been done already, flip your ribs over and make a small cut into the white membrane cover the back closest to one of the ends. Using a paper towel to help grip, slowly and gently pull the membrane down until it separates from the ribs, using a knife to clean up any scraps.
Liberally coat both sides of your ribs in spices, rubbing into the meat to ensure everything is covered. Wrap the rack in plastic wrap and place on a large baking tray in the refrigerator over night and up to a full 24 hours to let the flavors develop.
Step 2: Preheat
Half an hour before cook time, take your ribs from the fridge and let them start to warm up at room temperature. This helps them to cook more evenly while they're smoking as the inside and outside will be roughly even in temperature, avoiding overcooking the outside with a raw inside. Additionally, soak your wood chips in hot water at this time if you're using them instead of chunks.
When your charcoal has burnt down and your smoker is up to temperature, add more charcoal, toss on your wood, add the grate, fill the water tank, and close the lid once again. This gives the wood a chance to start smoking and the new material a chance to burn. After another ten minutes or so, you're finally ready to cook.
Step 3: Smoke
Place your ribs meat side up into the center of your smoker and close the lid. Depending on the type of rib you use, it'll most likely take around four hours to cook fully (baby backs run shorter, St. Louis run longer). You can check this by sight if the meat has begun to pull away from the bones or by temperature when a rib measures 195 degrees Fahrenheit internally.
As your ribs smoke, make sure to monitor the levels of wood, charcoal, and water in your smoker and add more of each as needed. Additionally, keep the temperature consistent by adjusting the air vents, especially when introducing new fuel to the fire.
Every half hour, spray your ribs down with apple juice or apple cider from a spray bottle. This both flavors the meat and helps keep the outside moist during the long cooking process.
In the last half hour of cooking, paint on a thick layer of barbecue sauce across the meat and allow it to caramelize on the outside, though be careful not to burn it. If it appears to be burning, remove the ribs from the heat or tent them in aluminum foil until they're fully cooked.
Step 4: Rest
After removing your ribs from the smoker, allow them to rest half an hour at minimum while wrapped loosely in aluminum foil. This gives the meat a chance to relax after being cooked and lets the juices redistribute throughout, making for a more tender, flavorful, and juicy rib. Use this time strategically to finish any side dishes or meal prep you hadn't to gotten yet.
Step 5: Serve
Once the ribs have rested, it's time to eat. Serve up your slab of ribs next to some country sides and extra barbecue sauce. It's up to you whether to cut the ribs apart early on or let everyone carve off what they like at the table. Either way, it's sure to be some of the best barbecue you've ever put in your face.
And there you have it. The most delicious bbq ribs coated in the most delicious rub smoked to perfection right on your dinner table. It doesn't get any better than that. Now you've got all the knowledge you need to do it for yourself at your next cookout. Whether you want to cook baby back ribs or pork chops, this dry rub is definitely something you want to use!
Did you enjoy this guide? What's your preferred dry rub recipe? Tell us about it in the comments and don't forget to share this page with a friend who could benefit from extra barbecue know-how in their life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best rub for ribs?
This question is highly subjective since everyone has different tastes! In general, a good rub has a few characteristics: sweet, salty, smoky, spicy, and savory. Most rubs start by combining salt with sugar (we like brown sugar). Then, they add herbs and spices to achieve the rest of the flavors. We almost always include smoked paprika, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper in ours to get the best flavor combinations.
How long does it take to smoke a rack of ribs?
Ribs are a low-and-slow kind of meat, so they’re never done quickly. They usually take from four to six hours, depending on how large they are and the temperature of the smoker. The best way to know when they’re done is to see if the bone moves independent of the meat, or when they reach an internal temperature of 195 degrees F.
How do you cook ribs with a dry rub?
Preparing ribs with a dry rub is very simple. Start by removing the silverskin, the membrane that runs along the inside bones of the ribs. Then, pour your rub onto the ribs and gently massage it into the meat. Finally, smoke your ribs until they’re juicy and tender!
What are 3-2-1 ribs?
The term 3-2-1 ribs refers to a cooking technique that breaks up the cooking into three segments. In the first segment, you smoke the ribs uncovered for three hours. For the second segment, you wrap the ribs in foil and cook them (covered) for two hours. Finally, the last segment is the last hour of cooking, where you unwrap the ribs and baste them in barbecue sauce.
What temperature should I wrap my ribs?
Most smoking enthusiasts and grillers agree that you'll get the juiciest, most tender ribs if you wrap them for a portion of the cooking time. If you’re not following the 3-2-1 method, you'll want to wrap your ribs in aluminum foil when they reach 160 to 170 degrees F. They will remain wrapped until they reach their final temperature of 195 degrees F. You can unwrap them for the final 5 to 10 degrees of cooking time if you wish to have crispy-skinned ribs.