Grilling/ Main Dish/ Recipe

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

September 2, 2019

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Smoked Baby Back Ribs with a delicious rub and smoked on a gas grill. These ribs are tender and juicy.

Grilled ribs on a white plate lined with lettuce leaves.

Summer is almost over, but it’s not too late to make these delicious Smoked Baby Back Ribs! I’ve been working on these ribs all summer long and I’m finally ready to share my recipe and all my tips. 

In our household, Rod is the griller/smoker. We plan parties and events around his grilling. He uses a huge smoker and often does several roasts at a time – enough to feed a crowd. I decided I needed to learn how to make perfect baby back ribs on our gas grill, not the huge smoker! Rod gave me advice along the way, but I am now the Rib Master in our house (just don’t tell Rod!)

Small pork rib held in one hand with a plate of ribs in the background.

What are baby back ribs?

Baby back ribs are pork ribs from a full sized pig, not a baby pig. These ribs are smaller or shorter than spare ribs and are called baby ribs. 

Can I cook smoked ribs on a gas grill?

Yes, I cooked these ribs on a gas grill. There are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

  • You will need to create a wood smoke packet by putting wood chips in a piece of foil and then piercing the foil. This allows the wood chips to smoke and the smoke to fill the grill chamber. 
  • The ribs will cook using indirect heat. I have a three burner grill. My ribs sit over two of the burners that are turned off. The third burner is turned on and the wood smoke packet sits over this burner.
  • The smoke is only used at the beginning of the cook time so the flavor of the smoke is absorbed into the meat but it doesn’t become too over powering.
  • The temperature of the grill needs to be at 250 degrees. You will want a good thermometer that can tell you the temperature of the chamber of your grill.
  • Keep your grill closed! Only open when adding an additional smoke packet, when rotating your ribs or when checking to see if they are done.

How long do the ribs cook?

I cook at 250 degrees for 4 hours. It may seem like a long time, but that’s the secret to tender ribs with a delicious bark on the outside. The ribs take a bit of time to cook, but once they are on the grill they don’t need a lot of attention. 

Do these smoked baby back ribs have a dry rub or a barbecue sauce?

For these ribs, I only used a dry rub. The rub creates a delicious layer and I don’t think you need to add a sauce. 

How do I make the rub?

Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, ground ginger, dried rosemary together in a bowl. Sugar and spices in a white. bowl.

How do I make smoked baby back ribs?

  1. Remove the membrane or silverskin from the bone side of the meat. If left on the ribs will have a leathery feel and the rub will  not be able to fully penetrate the meat and the bones. Removing silverskin from a rack of ribs.
  2. Lightly salt ribs and let sit for 10-15 minutes Baby back ribs with bone side up on a baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle rub over all sides of ribs and massage into meat. Allow rub to sit for 10-15 minutes.Ribs covered with a spiced rub.
  4. Soak two big handful of wood chips in a bowl of water for 10 minutes.
  5. Create two foil packets with a large sheet of foil. A knife cutting holes in a foil packet.
  6. Heat grill with all burners on high for 10 minutes
  7. Turn two burners off and leave one outside burner on medium to low. Add foil packet below cooking grate directly on heat plates or diffuser. Wood chip packet on grill.
  8. Add ribs on the side away from wood chips and where burners are turned off. Place ribs meat side up. Pork ribs on grill.
  9. Close lid and monitor temperature of grill. Grill should be at 250 degrees. Adjust burner up or down slightly until temperature holds steady. I turn my grill to medium flame on one burner only. The other two burners remain off. Each grill will vary so monitor for the first half hour until temperature stabilizes. 
  10. After 30 minutes add another wood smoke packet. Leave the first packet there, just place another one next to it.
  11. Close lid and monitor temperature.
  12. After 2 hours, rotate ribs. If cooking two ribs, switch places of ribs. If cooking three ribs, rotate outer ribs and keep rib in middle in same location. Close lid and monitor temperature.
  13. When 3 1/2 hours have passed, check to see if ribs are done. Test for doneness by using the fold test. Use a pair of sturdy tongs and grasp ribs. If the meat begins to separate at the fold, the ribs are done. All the ribs I cooked have taken 4-41/2 hours to cook, but l  like to check at 31/2 hours just in case.Using the fold test to determine if the ribs are done.
  14. When ribs are done, remove ribs to a baking sheet and cover and seal with foil. Allow ribs to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes.
  15. Slice ribs into individual pieces. I find it easier to flip ribs bone side up so I can see where to cut.
  16. Serve while still warm, but not hot

A white platter filled with smoked baby back ribs.

Can I make the ribs ahead of time?

You can do steps of these ribs ahead of time. You can make the rub and remove the silverskin from the ribs. I do like eating leftover ribs, but I believe the ribs are best served within 30-45 minutes after cooking. I don’t like to serve my ribs too hot. Ribs are a finger food and they do need to be picked up and eaten!

How many people does each rack of ribs serve?

I usually plan for each rack to serve 3 people. This will vary depending on your group. A rack typically has 12-13 bones and 4 bones per person works for my crew.  This recipe calls for two racks of ribs, but you can easily add a third rack as long as you have enough space on your grill. There is enough of the rub to add a third rack. 

What should I serve with ribs?

What to do with leftover rub?

This rub does make more than you will need. I often will add just a final sprinkling to ribs just before adding to grill.  I add it only in areas where the rub has slid off or where my tongs grabbed onto the ribs. You can save and use this rub on chicken breasts, pork chops or a beef steak. If saving to reuse, be certain you use a spoon to scoop, not your hands! Do not allow anything that has touched the meat come in contact with the rub.

What kind of wood do I use?

I used apple chips. You could also use hickory, oak or mesquite chips. Each wood adds a slightly different taste. 

What type of equipment do I need?

Tips for making smoked baby back ribs

  • Don’t open the lid, except when directed – no peaking!
  • Don’t flip your ribs – keep bone side down.
  • Do rotate the position of your ribs half way through cooking. Move the ribs furthest from the heat so they are closest to the heat.
  • Allow ribs time to rest after you pull of the grill. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Don’t forget to PIN for later! A white platter filled with smoked baby back ribs.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @beyondthechickencoop

Did you love these ribs? Then  you’ll LOVE all the others in this category. Check out all my main dish recipes here!

5 from 8 votes
A white platter filled with smoked baby back ribs.
Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Rest Time
20 mins
 

Baby back pork ribs cooked and smoked on a gas grill.

Course: Dinner, Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Baby back ribs, pork ribs, Smoked baby back ribs
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 459 kcal
Author: Kathy
Ingredients
Rub
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • ! Tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Ribs
  • 3 racks baby back ribs 2 1/2 - 3 pounds each
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
Wood Chips
  1. Soak two big handfuls of wood chips in water for at least 10 minutes.

  2. Divide wood chips into two piles. Add each pile to a piece of foil. Fold foil up and poke several holes in the top of each foil packet.

Rub
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Ribs
  1. Remove the membrane, or silverskin from the bone side of the ribs.

  2. Lightly salt both sides of the ribs. Allow ribs to rest for 10 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle 2-4 tablespoons of rub on each side of ribs. Massage rub in with your hands. Make certain rub gets on all areas including sides. Allow ribs to rest another 10 minutes.

  4. Start grill and turn on all burners on high so grill can preheat and grates can get hot.

  5. When grill reaches 500 degrees, turn off two burners. Turn the last burner to low. Place one wood chip packet directly on side with burner still on. Packet should be below grate sitting on heat diffuser.

    Wood chip packet on grill.
  6. Place ribs on grill grate bone side down. The ribs should be over the burners that are turned off.

  7. Close lid to grill and monitor temperature in grill. The temperature should be 250 degrees. Keep adjusting one burner until 250 degrees is maintained.

  8. After 30 minutes open grill and add second wood packet. Close lid and monitor temperature to keep at 250 degrees.

  9. After 2 hours, rotate ribs. If cooking two ribs, switch places of ribs. If cooking three ribs, rotate outer ribs and keep rib in middle in same location. Close lid and monitor temperature.

  10. When 3 1/2 hours have passed, check to see if ribs are done. Test for doneness by using the fold test. Use a pair of sturdy tongs and grasp ribs. If the meat begins to separate at the fold, the ribs are done. All the ribs I cooked have taken 4-41/2 hours to cook, but l  like to check at 31/2 hours just in case.

    Using the fold test to determine if the ribs are done.
  11. When ribs are done, remove ribs to a baking sheet and cover and seal with foil. Allow ribs to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes.

  12. Slice ribs into individual pieces. I find it easier to flip ribs bone side up so I can see where to cut.

  13. Serve while still warm, but not hot

Recipe Notes

Tips:

  • This recipe can also be made using 3 racks of ribs.
  • Don't open the lid, except when directed - no peaking!
  • Don't flip your ribs - keep bone side down.
  • Do rotate the position of your ribs half way through cooking. Move the ribs furthest from the heat so they are closest to the heat.
  • Allow ribs time to rest after you pull of the grill. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
  • Each rack serves 3 people (4 bones each)
Nutrition Facts
Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Amount Per Serving (4 bones)
Calories 459 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 98mg33%
Sodium 1099mg48%
Potassium 397mg11%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 35g39%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 31IU1%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 64mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Recipe adapted from my husband Rod and Meathead.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Katie Jane
    September 21, 2019 at 7:27 am

    5 stars
    I made these last weekend and they were amazing. The step by step directions were just what I needed. These turned out perfectly and my family loved them.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 21, 2019 at 7:35 am

      Glad you loved them!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    September 8, 2019 at 11:40 am

    5 stars
    These look totally mouthwatering Kathy! Love the dry rub. My whole family would love these for football season!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 9, 2019 at 4:49 am

      Perfect for football season!

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    September 5, 2019 at 6:42 am

    5 stars
    These look AMAZING, Kathy! You’re a total grill master and smoker now! Love that you used apple chips – must be such a lovely pairing…also now I’m seriously hungry 😉

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 6, 2019 at 4:45 am

      Thanks, Dawn!!!

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    September 3, 2019 at 5:12 am

    5 stars
    You know me and smoking meats, Kathy! A good Fall day with the smoker/grill going on the back deck is seriously one of my favorite days ever. This is a great how-to post, and I can’t wait to try out that spice rub! I’m craving ribs like you wouldn’t believe right now!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 4, 2019 at 4:52 am

      There is something quite satisfying about smoking on the grill! 🙂

  • Reply
    Fred G
    September 2, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    5 stars
    Sounds great and looks yummy. It’ll be a way to cook ribs.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 4, 2019 at 4:52 am

      They are delicious!

  • Reply
    Valentina
    September 2, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    5 stars
    Yum! My family welcomes baby back ribs any time of year! The rub on these sound like such a delicious blend and add to that the smoky flavor, and oh my! I’m in!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 4, 2019 at 4:52 am

      We could eat them all year long too!

  • Reply
    Fran @ G'day Souffle'
    September 2, 2019 at 8:03 am

    I wasn’t planning on leaving a comment, but I couldn’t resist! Kathy, this post is so helpful. It makes the process so do-able. I’ve bookmarked this- well done!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 4, 2019 at 4:52 am

      Thanks, Fran!

  • Reply
    Alexandra @ It's Not Complicated Recipes
    September 2, 2019 at 7:22 am

    5 stars
    These ribs look so deliciously tender! I can’t wait to cook them up soon – the weather is starting to warm up here now, and I think it will make a lovely outside dinner 🙂

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 4, 2019 at 4:53 am

      I’m hoping for a long fall so we can still do plenty outside.

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