Smoked St. Louis Ribs are slowly cooked until they’re fall off the bone tender with the perfect juicy flavor.
Preparing this rib recipe in the smoker is the perfect way to get the most delicious flavor for this crowd-pleasing Meal. Your family won’t be able to get enough of the juicy ribs and their sticky BBQ Sauce flavor.
St. Louis Ribs are different than your standard spare ribs or baby back ribs. The ribs are flatter with a more uniform shape that makes them easy to work with. They also have a higher amount of fat, which means they have more natural flavor, and they tenderize beautifully as you cook them.
Smoking the ribs is a bit more time-consuming than using gas grills but well worth the time. This cooking method uses indirect heat to cook the ribs to tender perfection slowly. You can also use smoking wood chunks to add extra flavor with flavored wood. Hickory, apple, or cherry wood would all taste amazing.
If you serve Smoked St. Louis Ribs for a BBQ or summer cookout, be sure to enjoy them with summer-time staple side dishes. They taste amazing with Coleslaw, Potato Salad, and other comforting favorites served alongside them.
Smoking meat is a bit of an undertaking. To give rib meat that tender, juicy flavor you want takes a few hours of smoking time. For the first cook time, you’ll smoke the ribs for 3 hours. Then that’s followed by 2 hours, and then a final hour of cooking. Altogether, it takes 6 hours of smoking time, and before that, you need to let the meat rest for 1 hour.
Although it’s time-consuming, smoking meat is worth it for the amazing texture and incredible layers of flavor that you get. The good news is once the meat is in the smoker, you can leave it to cook for the next few hours. I usually save recipes like this one for the weekend when I’ll be at home to manage the smoker.
- Ribs: When you pick up the 2 racks of ribs from the butcher, there are a few things you can check for to make sure you’re getting the best meat. Look for a rack of ribs with pinkish-red coloring and marbling of fat throughout. Be sure to check the ribs’ meat for any dark spots, and don’t get any that are too light. You also want to double-check that the butcher didn’t cut the meat too close to the rib bones.
- Dry Rub: There are several flavor components to making the perfect ribs. The first step is adding a dry rub. It’s the perfect blend of bold, spicy, and sweet flavoring with brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, garlic, and a few other basic seasonings.
- Spritz: You’ll also need to spritz the meat with pineapple juice and apple cider vinegar as it cooks. This adds an extra layer of flavor and keeps the meat moist.
- Pineapple juice: As the meat cooks for a second time, it’ll absorb the flavor from the pineapple juice. The acidity also helps break down the connective tissue for more tender and juicy ribs.
- BBQ Sauce: Finish flavoring the meat with a coating of BBQ Sauce for the classic Smoked St. Louis Ribs flavor.
- Prep time: Start the Smoked St. Louis Ribs recipe by preheating the smoker temperature to 275 degrees. The low smoking temperature is essential to getting extra juicy ribs. If your smoker requires it, you should also put a pan of water in the smoker’s corner to keep moisture in. However, most pellet grills won’t need you to do that. To prepare the pieces of meat, remove the membrane on the bottom of the ribs. You can also ask your butcher to take care of this when buying the rib rack.
- Seasoning: Combine the dry spice rub in a small bowl. Then sprinkle the seasoning over the rib rack on all sides. Let the seasoned ribs sit on the counter for 1 hour. It’s essential to let the meat rest because that period of time brings the ribs all to the same temperature and makes sure the spice rub sticks. The even temperature helps the meat to cook at the same rate.
- Cooking time: Place the rib rack in the preheated smoker for 3 hours. Fill a spray bottle with ½ cup pineapple juice and ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar during the smoking time. Then spritz the ribs every hour throughout the cooking time.
- Sheet pan cooking: After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the heat source and place them on a baking sheet. Then pour 1 cup pineapple juice over the ribs. Cover the baking sheet in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and put the ribs in the smoker for another 2 hours.
- Barbecue sauce: After 2 hours, remove the heavy-duty foil from the baking sheet. Then brush the ribs with a heavy coating of barbecue sauce. Place the ribs back in the smoker without the aluminum foil. Continue cooking for an hour to set the sauce coating and finish cooking.
- Finish: Ribs have to reach at least 145 degrees internal temperature to be safe to eat, but they may still be tough at that point. To check the rib doneness by eye, pick up a rib rack on one side with tongs. It should be flexible enough that the other side bends towards the ground. If done, remove the Smoked St. Louis Ribs from the heat source, and give them 10 minutes of rest time. Then slice between each rib bone and serve!
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- Sauces: To experiment with the flavor of your Smoked St. Louis Ribs, try mixing your favorite sauce with the BBQ sauce before adding it to the ribs. You can make spicy barbecue sauce by mixing in hot sauce. Or, add a savory mustard flavor with yellow mustard or whole grain mustard. Because you’re preparing them in the smoker, the ribs will already have a delicious smoky flavor. But, if you want to increase that even more, you can mix a bit of liquid smoke with the sauce coating.
- Apple juice: The pineapple juice gives the ribs a sweet and tangy, slightly summery flavor. If you want a more comforting and homey flavor palette, try using apple juice instead.
Perfect Side Dishes
How to Store
- Serve: After cooking the meat, you shouldn’t leave the ribs out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Store: If you have any leftover ribs, let them cool to room temperature. Then place them in an airtight container or cover the plate of ribs in plastic wrap. They can keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Freeze: You can also put the Smoked St. Louis Ribs in a freezer bag to keep in your freezer for up to 6 months.
- 2 racks of St. Louis Ribs
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1 cup homemade BBQ sauce
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 pineapple juice
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- Preheat smoker to 275°F. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside.
- If not removed yet, remove membrane on the bottom of the ribs or ask your butcher to remove it for you.
- Combine dry rub seasonings and sprinkle onto ribs on all sides.
- Let the ribs sit out on the counter for 1 hour to let the meat come to room temperature and the rub to adhere well. This will ensure a more even cook.
- Place ribs on the smoker and smoke at 275°F for 3 hours, spritzing every hour after the first.
- After 3 hours, place ribs in an aluminum pan and pour in 1 cup of pineapple juice. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top and crimp to seal the edges.
- Place pan on the smoker and cook for 2 more hours.
- After 2 hours, remove the aluminum foil covering the pan and glaze the ribs with a heavy coating of BBQ sauce.
- Continuing cooking the ribs for 1 hour to set the sauce and finish cooking.
- Remove the ribs from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice ribs between each bone.
- Serve and enjoy!