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    321 Baby Back Ribs Recipe

    Published September 1, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This delicious 321 Ribs recipe is a tried-and-true cooking procedure that renders juicy, flavorful, and tender ribs every single time. You will love how easy these are to make and how unique the flavors are.

    I don’t know about you, but I BBQ all year long. We love the flavors and love the open-flame cooking method. If you feel the same, try my Grilled Salmon Recipe or Carne Asada.

    321 baby back ribs on a sheet tray


     

    321 Baby Back Ribs

    321 Ribs is a cooking procedure where ribs are seasoned and smoked at low temperatures for 3 hours. They are then sauced and wrapped in foil or peach paper and then smoked for 2 hours. The ribs are then removed from the wrap, sauced, and smoked for 1 final hour, thus producing 321 Ribs. This is hands down the most foolproof way to make delicious smoked ribs every time you do it.

    This recipe can also be customized to your liking by using the seasoning rub and BBQ sauce of your choice. You can also use any smoker to make these, including a pellet, offset, direct pit, or a Kamado-style grill. When the ribs are finished cooking and are ready to be served, they should have a slight tug to them to remove the meat away from the bones.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    321 ribs ingredients
    • Ribs – I used baby back-cut ribs for this recipe.
    • Seasonings – My favorite combination to use is coarse salt, ground black pepper, garlic granules, onion granules, and paprika. You can also use just salt and pepper or another BBQ rub.
    • Sauce – I like to use my Homemade BBQ Sauce. However, you can use your favorite sauce for this.
    • Binder – A binder is used to ensure the seasoning sticks to the ribs. I like to use rendered lard for this.
    • Butter – I always use unsalted butter in my cooking and baking.
    • Juice – You will need some apple juice for the sauce to help sweeten it. In addition, you can use apple cider.
    • Water – Tap water will do.
    • Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar will help provide some much-needed acid to the ribs through the sauce combination.
    • Wood – I used a combination of apple and alder wood chips. You can also use cherry, pecan, oak, mesquite, or hickory.

    How to Make Smoked 321 Baby Back Ribs

    Add wood to your hopper or start making coals and preheat your smoker to 225°.

    setting up the smoker

    Remove the membrane on the back side of the ribs.

    removing the membrane from ribs

    Rub the baby back ribs down on both sides with pork lard.

    coating the ribs in pork lard

    Season the ribs on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic granules, onion granules, and paprika.

    seasoning ribs

    Place the ribs 2 to 3 inches apart on the smoker, and close the smoker door, and smoke for 3 hours at 225°.

    adding ribs to a smoker

    With about 15 minutes left in the 3-hour smoking process, add the BBQ sauce and the apple juice, apple cider vinegar, water, and butter to a medium-sized pot and heat it up over low heat until the butter is melted. Keep it warm.

    making bbq sauce

    Remove the ribs from the smoker and place one rack bones side down in the center of a 36” sheet of peach or butcher’s paper about 6” from the bottom.

    adding ribs to peach paper

    Brush on some of the hot BBQ sauce on each side of the ribs.

    saucing ribs

    Fold the bottom of the peach paper up over the ribs.

    folding peach paper over ribs

    Fold the right side of the paper over to the center and make a crease. Do the same thing to the left side.

    folding butchers paper over the ribs

    Fold forward, wrapping the baby ribs completely with the open fold underneath the ribs.

    wrapping ribs in peach paper

    Place the ribs back onto the smoker and smoke for 2 hours.

    smoking ribs in parchment paper

    Remove the ribs from the smoker and remove them from the peach paper.

    removing ribs from parchment paper

    Put the ribs back out on the smoker, brush 2 to 3 tablespoons of the BBQ sauce on the top of the baby backs, and smoke for 1 more hour.

    saucing ribs on a smoker

    Take the ribs off the smoker, cover them with foil, and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

    covering smoked ribs in foil

    Brush more BBQ sauce onto the smoked ribs. Slice and serve.

    smoked baby back ribs

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: These ribs are meant to be eaten when they’re done cooking. However, you can keep them warm in a pan covered with foil in the oven at low temperatures (<200°) for up to 1 hour before serving.

    How to Store: Cover and keep the ribs in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. These will freeze covered for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator for 1 day or until thawed.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired number of ribs to a pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes and then uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes or until hot.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • This method can be used on spareribs or St. Louis-style ribs using the exact cook times and temperatures for this recipe, and procedures.
    • Other binders you can use are Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, softened butter, or oil.
    • Swap out the garlic and onion granules with garlic and onion powder.
    • Removing the membrane on the back side is optional, as it will likely cook off after the long smoke period.
    • This recipe will not work in an oven.
    • If you are using pork lard, it should be room temperature or colder so it is easy to spread onto the pork.

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    321 Baby Back Ribs Recipe

    5 from 8 votes
    This delicious 321 Ribs recipe is a tried-and-true cooking procedure that renders juicy, flavorful, and tender ribs every single time.
    Servings: 6
    Prep Time: 40 minutes
    Cook Time: 6 hours

    Ingredients 

    • 2 racks of baby back ribs 1 /2 to 2 pounds each
    • 6 tablespoons pork lard
    • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
    • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
    • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 2 cups BBQ sauce
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • ½ cup apple juice
    • ½ cup water
    • 1 stick unsalted butter

    Instructions

    • Add your wood to your hopper, start making coals, and preheat your smoker until it reaches 225°.
    • Remove the membrane on the back side of the ribs by using a butter knife to wedge in between the meat and the membrane and lift to expose it.
    • Rip the membrane off in both directions, completely removing it. If you need to get a good grip, use a paper towel to hold on and rip it off.
    • Next, rub the baby back ribs down on each side with 1 ½ tablespoons of pork lard or another bunder completely covering it.
    • Generously season the ribs on each side with ¾ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, ¾ teaspoon of garlic granules, ¾ teaspoon of onion granules, and ¾ teaspoon of paprika.
    • Place the ribs 2 to 3 inches apart on the smoker bone side down, close the smoker door, and smoke for 3 hours at 225°.
    • With about 15 minutes left in the 3-hour smoking process, add the BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar, apple juice, water, and butter to a medium-sized pot and heat it up over low heat until the butter is melted. Keep it warm.
    • Remove the ribs from the smoker and place one rack bones side down in the center of a 36” sheet of peach or butcher’s paper about 6” from the bottom.
    • Brush on about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the hot BBQ sauce on each side of the ribs.
    • Next, fold the bottom of the peach paper up over the ribs. There should be about 1” inch of the ribs at the top that are still exposed. Fold the right side of the paper over to the center and make a crease. Do the same thing to the left side. Fold forward twice, wrapping the baby ribs completely with the open fold underneath the ribs. Repeat the same saucing and wrapping process with the other rack of ribs.
    • Place the ribs back onto the smoker and smoke at 225° for 2 hours.
    • Remove the ribs from the smoker and remove them from the peach paper. It’s okay if the paper is saturated from the sauce and ribs.
    • Put the ribs back out on the smoker bone side down 2 to 3 inches apart from each other brush 2 to 3 tablespoons of the BBQ sauce on the top of the baby backs, and smoke for 1 more hour.
    • Take the ribs off the smoker, cover them with foil, and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Finish by brushing more hot BBQ sauce onto the smoked ribs. Slice and serve.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: These ribs are meant to be eaten when they’re done cooking. However, you can keep them warm in a pan covered with foil in the oven at low temperatures (<200°) for up to 1 hour before serving.
    How to Store: Cover and keep the ribs in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. These will freeze covered for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator for 1 day or until thawed.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired number of ribs to a pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes and then uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes or until hot.
    This method can be used on spareribs or St. Louis-style ribs using the exact cook times and temperatures for this recipe, and procedures.
    Other binders you can use are Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, softened butter, or oil.
    Swap out the garlic and onion granules with garlic and onion powder.
    Removing the membrane on the back side is optional, as it will likely cook off after the long smoke period.
    This recipe will not work in an oven.
    If you are using pork lard, it should be room temperature or colder so it is easy to spread onto the pork.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 525kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 19gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 2232mgPotassium: 553mgFiber: 2gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 817IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 76mgIron: 2mg
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: BBQ, southern