Great ribs start with a few simple steps and some smart prep work. Follow Paula Disbrowe’s quick tips to season, smoke, and finish these ribs to tender, saucy perfection.

By Paula Disbrowe
Updated July 23, 2019
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Rib fanatics are a passionate bunch, brimming with strong opinions about their favorite cut, style, and sauce. I prefer a Memphis-style dry rub of warm red spices—the peppery heat is the perfect partner for the natural sweetness of pork. The following recipe (featured on the cover of my latest book, Thank You for Smoking) relies on St. Louis–style spareribs, but the method works for any rack. I begin with a two-zone charcoal fire perfumed with a few wood chunks. After the ribs have absorbed a couple hours of smoke, I wrap them and finish the cooking in the oven. The low heat allows the meat to gently braise in the seasoned juices, resulting in meltingly tender, deeply flavored ribs destined to star at your next backyard barbecue.

Credit: Victor Protasio

Follow these simple steps for the perfect smoked ribs:

Prep Ribs

Credit: Victor Protasio

Remove membrane from back of each rack of ribs by pulling it off with a paper towel.

Combine Spices

Credit: Victor Protasio

Whisk ingredients to disperse evenly; swap out some of the sweet paprika for hot if you like your ribs extra spicy.

Season Liberally

Credit: Victor Protasio

Hit both sides with more than you think you need; the rub acts as a dry brine that permeates and pre-seasons the meat.

Rub It In

Credit: Victor Protasio

Rub the spice blend evenly onto both sides of the rib racks. Let stand 30 minutes or chill up to 2 days.

Prep the Grill

Credit: Victor Protasio

Preheat grill; place a drip pan with 1 inch of warm water on side without coals. Add hardwood chunks for smoke.

Flip and Rotate

Credit: Victor Protasio

Use tongs to flip and rotate the ribs every 30 minutes to encourage even cooking and maximum bark.

Get the full recipe for Perfect Smoked Ribs here.