Best Smoked Spare Ribs

Written by Mike Futia | Updated October 20, 2023

These smoked spare ribs are juicy, full of flavor, and super-easy to make on your pellet grill.

We're keeping things simple with a classic dry rub, a mid-smoke wrap, and then going low-and-slow on the Traeger.

The result? Moist, tender, perfect smoked spare ribs for your next backyard BBQ.

smoked spare ribs

How To Make Smoked Spare Ribs

For this smoker recipe, we're trimming our spare ribs to remove any excess fat, and then hitting them with a mustard binder and our rib dry rub.

smoked spare ribs

Then we're tossing them on the Traeger at 250F for three hours, wrapping them in foil, and then saucing them for the final hour until the hit an internal temp of 195F-205F.

spare ribs on plate

Serve with a side of smoked corn on the cob and a smoked baked beans, and you've got yourself an amazing weekend meal!

Smoked Spare Ribs Ingredients

Serving Size: 6 people

  • St. Louis Style Spare Ribs (2 racks). We got our spare ribs at Whole Foods, where they're already trimmed up nicely.
  • Yellow mustard (2 tbsp). To act as a binder for the dry rub.
  • Dry rub (1/4 cup). We used our homemade rub for ribs, but you can use whatever you like, even just salt and pepper!
  • Apple juice (1/4 cup). To spritz the ribs before wrapping them in foil.
  • BBQ sauce (1/4 cup). To sauce the ribs for the final hour of the cook. We used our homemade BBQ sauce for ribs.
  • Brown sugar (1/4 cup). To add to the foil wrap for extra sweetness and flavor.
  • Honey (2 tbsp). To add to the foil wrap.
  • Aluminum foil. To wrap the ribs. 

The Directions

trimming ribs

1. Trim your spare ribs. Depending on where you bought your ribs, you may need to square off the ends and remove the membrane. See the "how to trim spare ribs" section below.

spare ribs with mustard binder

2. Coat the ribs on both sides with mustard, and rub in thoroughly. This is to act as a binder for the dry rub.

dry rub on ribs

3. Apply your dry rub liberally. Be sure to get all sides of the ribs. Allow the dry rub to soak into the ribs for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your smoker to 250F.

spare ribs on smoker

4. Put the spare ribs directly on the grill grates of your smoker. Insert a meat thermometer probe and set a timer for three hours.

apple juice

5. Spritz your ribs every 30-60 minutes with apple juice or apple cider vinegar. This will help keep the ribs moist and tender.

pork in foil wrap

6. At the 3 hour mark, it's time to wrap. Lay out an long layer of aluminum foil. Add the brown sugar and honey to the foil, and then carefully place the ribs on top. Wrap the ribs in the foil and place them back on the smoker, meat side up.

ribs with meat thermometer

7. One hour later, unwrap and remove the ribs from the foil. Then, brush on the BBQ sauce liberally and return the ribs to the smoker uncovered, for about another hour.

smoked ribs done

8. When the ribs hit an internal temperature of 195F to 205F, remove them from the smoker. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. ENJOY!

Cooking Temperature & Time

  • Cooking Temperature. We smoked these spare ribs at 250F on the Traeger until they hit an internal temperature of 200F. 
  • Cooking Time. These smoked spare ribs took five hours to cook. We smoked them uncovered for three hours. Then, we smoked them wrapped in aluminum foil for one hour. Finally, we smoked them uncovered but in BBQ sauce for the final hour.

Spare Ribs Smoking Tips

  • Choosing your ribs. We like to buy our ribs at Whole Foods, and we're looking specifically for ribs with a good amount of meat and marbling. This makes for extra-tender ribs.
  • Don't forget to trim. You'll get better results, a more even texture, and a more satisfying bite if you take the time to properly trim your ribs (more on this below).
  • Pellet flavor. You could choose whatever flavor pellets you want, but we prefer a fruity flavor with our ribs, so we usually opt for apple or cherry.
  • The doneness test. There are several ways to know when ribs are done. The most reliable is checking them with a meat thermometer, but you can also go by the bend test or check for the bones protruding through the meat.

What Are Pork Spare Ribs?

spare ribs raw

Pork spare ribs are meatier than baby back ribs which is why you'll often find them being cooked at BBQ competitions. One rack usually weighs 3-4 pounds.

"St. Louis style" ribs are simply spare ribs that have been already been trimmed.

How To Trim Spare Ribs

If you get your ribs from a butcher or a place like Whole Foods, they already come mostly trimmed.

But if your ribs are in a vacuum-sealed package, you're going to want to trim them yourself. 

1) Place the ribs meat side down on a cutting board. Grab your sharpest knife, and remove the flap piece that runs along the center of the ribs.

2) In the top edge, remove the breast bone area, which is the "rib tips" area.

3) Along the top, where the meat extends past the top of all the bones, take your knife and remove this entire section. 

4) Remove the outermost ribs that don't have much meat on them. Your final rack should have about 9-10 bones.

5) Use a paper towel to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Should Spare Ribs Be Smoked At 225F or 250F?

I prefer to smoke ribs at 250F because they'll cook a little bit faster and you'll still get a super tender and delicious rib.

How Long Should Spare Ribs Be Smoked?

Spare ribs should be smoked for about 5 hours at 250F. This time will vary based on the thickness of the meat and temperature control of your smoker. Always use a meat thermometer to best gauge when the ribs are done.

How Do You Tell When Smoked Spare Ribs Are Done?

Smoked spare ribs are done when they hit an internal temperature between 195F and 205F, as measured by a meat thermometer.

Sides Dishes & Serving Suggestions For Smoked Spare Ribs

smoked baked beans

A flavorful side dish that adds a hearty and savory element to the meal.

smoked mac and cheese

A classic comfort food that pairs nicely with the ribs.

smoked corn on the cob with a pork chop

A summer classic that goes perfectly with pork.

Recommended Tools & Equipment

  • Traeger Grill. I love my Traeger 780 for all things smoking!
  • Pellets. I've really been digging the pellets from BBQ'ers Delight.
  • Meat Thermometer. I use this MEATER to keep an eye on the internal temp during the cook, and then just to be sure, I also check it with this Thermapen One at the end of the cook just to be extra sure.
smoked spare ribs

Best Smoked Spare Ribs

Learn how to smoke spare ribs with our simple recipe, get insights on choosing woods, trimming ribs, and checking for perfect doneness.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Course Main Course
Servings 3 people
Calories 1897 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 racks spare ribs St. Louis-style
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup seasoning
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey

Instructions
 

  • Trim your spare ribs. Depending on where you bought your ribs, you may need to square off the ends and remove the membrane.
  • Coat the ribs on both sides with mustard, and rub in thoroughly. This is to act as a binder for the dry rub.
  • Apply your dry rub liberally. Be sure to get all sides of the ribs. Allow the dry rub to soak into the ribs for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your smoker to 250F.
  • Put the spare ribs directly on the grill grates of your smoker. Insert a meat thermometer probe and set a timer for three hours.
  • Spritz your ribs every 30-60 minutes with apple juice or apple cider vinegar. This will help keep the ribs moist and tender.
  • At the 3 hour mark, it's time to wrap. Lay out an long layer of aluminum foil. Add the brown sugar and honey to the foil, and then carefully place the ribs on top. Wrap the ribs in the foil and place them back on the smoker, meat side up.
  • One hour later, unwrap and remove the ribs from the foil. Then, brush on the BBQ sauce liberally and return the ribs to the smoker uncovered, for about another hour.
  • When the ribs hit an internal temperature of 195F to 205F, remove them from the smoker. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. ENJOY!

Nutrition

Calories: 1897kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 96gFat: 143gSaturated Fat: 46gPolyunsaturated Fat: 24gMonounsaturated Fat: 52gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 485mgSodium: 785mgPotassium: 1829mgFiber: 9gSugar: 40gVitamin A: 391IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 434mgIron: 13mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Mike Futia

Hello, I'm Mike Futia, a passionate griller and BBQ enthusiast. I'm the creator of Grill Frenzy, and I'm committed to sharing my knowledge of grilling and smoking with you. I believe that BBQ and grilling should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, I'm here to guide you on your grilling journey. Welcome!


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