3 2 1 ribs are a fool proof way to get fall off the bone tender ribs. The 3 2 1 rib method is based on smoking ribs at a certain temperature for 3 hours, wrapping with liquid for 2 hours, and saucing for the final 1 hour.

Close up of smoked ribs with a text overlay that reads Smoking Ribs Using the 3-2-1 Rib Method

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3 2 1 Smoked Ribs

Today, I’m showing you an amazing method for smoking ribs: the fool proof 3 2 1 ribs recipe. This method has gained a lot of popularity with home cooks in recent years because of the flawless results in churning out super tender ribs that fall off the bone every time.

While competition and traditional BBQ cooks will scoff at fall off the bone ribs, the truth is that most people really like them that way. Judges for KCBS won’t give you a winning score, but they also won’t be hanging out in your backyard critiquing what you and your family are eating. So I say, cook what you like!

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So fire up your smoker (I like to cook ribs on my Camp Chef SmokePro LUX), and let’s get smoking!

hand holding a cooked rib

3 2 1 Rib Method

I firmly believe that you should cook food the way you like it, and ribs are no different! You like your ribs saucy? Put some extra sauce on them (I like using my Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce)! You like your ribs falling off the bone? Follow this 3 2 1 Rib Method! These are your ribs after all. Don’t you let the man get you down. Just don’t.

Here’s how to cook your ribs using the 3 2 1 method:

  1. Smoke for 3 hours. Start with exposing the seasoned ribs to 3 hours of heavy smoke over low heat. I prefer fruit woods (apple or cherry) when smoking pork, but other hardwoods (hickory and alder) also work really well with ribs.
  2. Wrap for 2 hours. After the initial 3-hour smoke, foil the ribs with a liquid of your choosing (I used apple cider, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 2-3 Tablespoons of butter) and cook at 225-250 degrees for 2 more hours. After the braising period I look for great retraction of the meat from the bones. I want the bones to be exposed on the end at least 1/4 to 1/2 an inch.
  3. Sauce and smoke for 1 hour. Lastly, baste the ribs basted in your favorite BBQ sauce and return them to the grill for a final hour to hour and a half to finish the ribs and set the sauce.

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Sticky, sweet, tender, and oh so savory, 3 2 1 ribs are probably the most requested meal I receive for potlucks or family dinners. I tend to fall back on these ribs for gatherings because I know that they will deliver that tender, flavorful porky flavor every time. And sometimes consistency is super important!

Cooked ribs sliced and stacked on a wooden cutting board

More Ribs Recipes

Are you a rib fan like me? Then you’ll absolutely love these other rib recipes on Hey Grill Hey:

Best Dry Rub for Ribs Crispy Sticky Smoked Spareribs Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs Apple Jalapeno Smoked Ribs

3 2 1 Ribs Recipe

**This post was originally published in June 2015. Images and information have been updated, but the delicious recipe remains the same.

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