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Published May 19, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
You will be blown away at how meaty, juicy, and delicious these smoked, and BBQ sauce braised country-style ribs are. The flavor in these ribs is incredible and easy to make, even for beginner smokers.
When it comes to BBQ, the more side dishes to complement, the better. If you’re the same, try out my delicious Cornbread or Potato Salad.
Country Style Ribs
Country-style ribs are a cut of pork where the blade end of the pork loin meets the shoulder. They can be bone-in or boneless; I prefer the latter. In addition, while much smaller, they can also be the blade end of the pork loin. I personally believe the shoulder cut is much more tender and meatier. Country-style ribs are sometimes called pork shoulder steaks.
Country ribs are typically 1 to ½ inches thick and can weigh from 8 ounces to 1 pound with a good amount of intermuscular fat. Since this can be a tougher cut of meat, it’s best slow-cooked at low temperatures in a smoker or oven. I believe smoking incorporates the most flavor into country ribs, making them the most delicious cooking procedure.
They got their name during the 1970s and 1980s from butchers in Chicago who were struggling to market the blade end of the pork loin because it “appeared” fatty. According to NBC, A butcher named Cliff Bowes split this end from the backbone and then split the meat again, giving a long cut of meat that resembled a large bone in rib, later giving it the name, country-style ribs.
- Pork – You will need country-style ribs. I prefer them to be boneless, but bone-in will also work.
- Mustard – I use plain yellow mustard as a binder for the seasoning to stick to the pork while smoking it.
- Rub – You can use salt and pepper or your favorite BBQ Rub. I used my homemade Southwest Rub seasoning on these country-style ribs.
- BBQ Sauce – You can use your favorite BBQ sauce for this. In addition, I also did a version of my video using Mustard BBQ Sauce.
- Water – Tap water will work fine.
- Vinegar – I used apple cider vinegar to help cut the BBQ sauce to make it more flavorful.
- Juice – Apple juice is what is needed for the sauce.
- Butter – I always use unsalted butter in my cooking and baking so that I control the salt content.
How to Make Smoked Country-Style Ribs
- Coat the country-style ribs on all sides with mustard.
- Generously season all sides of the ribs in the seasoning rub.
- Add the ribs to the smoker about 1” inch apart from one another and smoke at 225° until it reaches an internal temperature of 175° or is past the dreaded stall of 150° to 170°. This takes about 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove the ribs and place them in a pan with enough BBQ sauce to cover at least half of them, about 2 ½ to 3 cups.
- Cover with foil and place back on the smoker at 250° insert the thermometer and cook until it reaches at least 200° internally. This takes about 1 to 2 hours. At this stage, they are done.
- This part is optional, but I like to remove the ribs from the smoker and turn the smoker up to 400°. Place the ribs back on the grates and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with additional BBQ sauce.
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 or until hot.
Chef Notes + Tips
- Other binders you can use are Dijon mustard, softened butter, or oil.
- I prefer to use apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite, oak, or pecan wood for smoking these country ribs.
- You can also mark the ribs under the broiler on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side or on a hot grill (450° to 550°) for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- A trick if you don’t plan to cook the meat the day you purchase it, coat it on all sides in a thin layer of oil. This prevents oxidation, which is what essentially causes discoloration. This process should give you an extra 3 to 4 days of freshness.
- Do the exact same thing I did on the smoker in the oven at the same temperatures. Place the country ribs on a rack over a sheet tray instead of directly on the oven racks.
- When smoking any piece of meat, you must figure for a 25% to 33% loss in size and weight. This is why 7 pounds of country ribs will only feed roughly 8 people.
More BBQ Ribs
Smoked Country Style Ribs Recipe
- 7 pounds boneless country-style ribs
- ¼ cup yellow mustard
- 1/3 to ½ cup southwest seasoning rub
- 3 cups BBQ sauce
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup apple juice
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- Preheat the smoker to 225°.
- Place the ribs on a sheet tray or plate platter and coat the country-style ribs on all sides with mustard.
- Generously season all sides of the ribs in the seasoning rub.
- Add the ribs to the smoker about 1” inch apart from one another and smoke at 225° until it reaches an internal temperature of 175° or is past the dreaded stall of 150° to 170°. This takes about 3 to 4 hours. Do not forget to add the thermometer to the thickest country-style rib.
- With about 20 minutes left in the first part of the ribs are smoking, add the BBQ sauce, water, vinegar, juice, and butter to a large pot and cook over low heat until combined and the butter is melted. Keep warm
- Remove the ribs and place them in a 13×9 deep pan (this can be disposable) along with enough BBQ sauce to cover at least half of the ribs, which is about 2 ½ to 3 cups.
- Cover with foil and place back on the smoker at 250° insert the thermometer to the thickest rib and cook until it reaches at least 200° internally. This takes about 1 to 2 hours. At this stage, they are done.
- This part is optional, but I like to remove the ribs from the smoker and turn the smoker up to 400°. Place the ribs back on the grates and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Serve with additional BBQ sauce.
Can this be made by baking it in the oven? I would love to try them, but don’t have a smoker or broiler. If so, can you give the time and temp to make them? Thank you, Chef! 😁
All that information is in the post.
Delicious, We are doing a rib competition this weekend, in fact tomorrow. I have made plenty of your NC Vinegar BBQ Sauce to take. You have the very best recipe for what we do. It makes the ribs so tender and so full of flavor. W have to cook 18 rack of ribs for this Competition. Not me but my son. I just get all of his things together so all he has to do is unload his truck and set things up his way. Billy, I wish you could come to one of the competitions he dose. He really is having a ton of fun doing these things. Making a lot of new friends, and learning lots of new tricks and tips. We really owe it all to you Billy, and I thank you so much for have such great recipes. He has came in 4th place so far….we are looking for a little bit better for this one.