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    Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs Recipe

    Published May 17, 2024. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    Nothing better than a delicious rack of smoked St. Louis-style spare ribs that are cooked slow and low for the ultimate BBQ flavor. If you’ve never made these before, you’ve been missing out big time.

    I am in love with BBQ and smoked food and always enjoy the process and the final product. If you’re similar, try my Smoked Brisket or Smoked Chicken Wings.

    smoked BBQ ribs


     

    St. Louis Style Ribs

    St. Louis-style spare ribs are cut closer to the belly at the bottom part of the rib cage, while baby back ribs are cut higher towards the back. Baby back ribs are also known as loin ribs, just in case you hear someone call it that. Both cuts can be cooked in many ways, including grilling, smoking, braising, or oven roasting.

    These ribs are longer and straighter and tend to be meatier and a bit fattier, which, in the end, can mean more flavor since fat does equal flavor. However, baby back ribs are shorter but extremely tender. St. Louis-style is just another name for spare ribs

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    • Spice Rub – I used a combination of salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and paprika. You can use your favorite rub or just salt and pepper. Powder can replace the granules in the onion and garlic.
    • Ribs — You will need St. Louis-style spare ribs, but baby back ribs can also be used with this process.
    • Mustard – Yellow or Dijon mustard can be used as the binder for the spice rub to stick to. You can also use lard.
    • Spritzer and Sauce – A spritzer is a spray you use to keep the ribs moist and flavorful. I use a combination of equal parts apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and water. In addition, you can use your favorite BBQ Sauce for this.

    How To Smoke St. Louis Style Ribs

    1. Preheat your smoker using your favorite flavored wood to 240° to 250°.
    2. Remove any sinew, small chunks of fat, and the skirt on the backside of the spare ribs if the butcher hasn’t already removed it. Set aside.
    3. Make your dry rub and set aside.
    4. Using a small amount of either yellow or Dijon mustard spread a thin layer on both sides of the ribs.
    5. Sprinkle your rub evenly all over the rubs, ensuring it completely covers them. Season, but do not cake the rub on it. It should not be a thickly coated rub.
    6. Place them bone-side down evenly on the smoker. Scrunch the ribs together once on the smoker to compact them. This will help seal in juices similar to that of trussing.
    7. Smoke for 1 hour and then spritz 8-10 sprays on the ribs.  Repeat this process every 30 minutes for the next 90 minutes.
    8. After a total of 3 hours of smoking, remove the ribs from the smoker.  Pour about ½ cup of the mixed BBQ sauce all over the ribs and rub it in.
    9. Add about ¼ cup of the mixed BBQ sauce onto the center of a large sheet of heavy-duty foil or peach paper where the ribs are going to go
    10. add the ribs bone side up to the top of the sauce on the foil and wrap them extremely tight by folding over and covering up the ribs.  Place the ribs back on the smoker bone side up and cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until done.
    11. Remove the ribs from the smoker and let rest in the foil for 30 to 45 minutes before slicing and serving.
    step by step procedures for how to make st lous style smoked ribs

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: These ribs are meant to be eaten after 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

    • I like to serve the BBQ sauce on the side instead of saucing it myself before serving.
    • Any BBQ sauce can be used on these ribs.
    • My favorite wood is alder, cherry, apple, peach, mesquite, oak, or pecan.
    • Ribs do not need to be wrapped when smoking, however, it is recommended.  Wrapping them in either peach paper or aluminum foil helps to break down the fat and protein while tenderizing it because it is essentially steaming in the foil.
    • Spritzing is simply spraying whatever you’re smoking every 30-45 minutes with some liquid, usually equal parts vinegar, juice, beer, or water, out of a spray bottle to help keep the ribs moist and flavor them.
    • Properly smoked ribs should never fall off the bone.  They should easily pull away from the bone when taking a bite. 
    • Contrary to popular belief, the membrane isn’t thick enough to prevent the rub, sauce, or spritzer from getting through, so it can be left off.
    • It’s incredibly hard to probe ribs because the thin cut of meat and bones are so close together. However, they are done at 190° to 203°. It’s better to test the doneness by eye and feel.
    • St. Louis-style takes roughly 6 hours to smoke and 30-45 minutes to rest, so plan your day well. With prep time, you’re looking at about 8 hours. 
    • If you don’t have a smoker, you can follow these procedures in the oven at the same temperature. However, you will not get smokey flavors.
    • You can absolutely smoke these ribs on a standard charcoal grill, and if you like to grill and smoke, you should consider pellet grills or even a stone-style grill.

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    Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs Recipe

    5 from 12 votes
    Nothing is better than a delicious rack of smoked St. Louis-style spare ribs, cooked slow and low for the ultimate BBQ flavor.
    Servings: 8
    Prep Time: 45 minutes
    Cook Time: 6 hours
    Resting Time: 45 minutes
    Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes

    Ingredients 

    For the Rub:

    • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
    • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon garlic granules
    • 1 tablespoon onion granules
    • 2 tablespoons paprika

    For the Spritzer and Sauce:

    For the Ribs:

    • 2 3 to 3 ½ pound spare ribs, trimmed
    • 4 tablespoons yellow or Dijon mustard

    Instructions

    • Preheat the smoker to 240° to 250°.
    • Rub: Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.
    • Spritzer: Add the apple juice, cider, and water to a spray bottle and shake. Set aside.
    • Sauce: In a small saucepot, add the BBQ sauce, butter, and 1 cup of the spitzer mix. Keep warm.
    • Rub the mustard all over both sides of the ribs creating a thin layer.
    • Next, generously season the ribs on both sides with the rub. See Notes.
    • Add the ribs to the smoker and cook for 1 hour. Spray the ribs with 8-10 sprays of the spritzer.
    • Repeat this process for the next 90 minutes then cook for 30 more minutes.
    • After 3 hours total of smoking time, remove the ribs.
    • Pour about ½ cup of the mixed sauce over the ribs and rub it in on all sides.
    • 1Add about ¼ cup of the mixed BBQ sauce onto the center of a large sheet of heavy-duty foil or peach paper where the ribs are going to go and place ribs bone side up to the top of the sauce on the foil and wrap them extremely tight by folding over and covering up the ribs.
    • 1Place the ribs back on the smoker bone side up and cook for 3 hours or until they are done. See Notes.
    • 1Remove the ribs from the smoker and let rest in the foil for 30-45 minutes before slicing and serving.
    • 1Serve ribs with BBQ sauce on the side.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: These ribs are meant to be eaten after 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.
    I like to serve the BBQ sauce on the side instead of saucing it myself before serving.
    Any BBQ sauce can be used on these ribs.
    My favorite wood is alder, cherry, apple, peach, mesquite, oak, or pecan.
    Ribs do not need to be wrapped when smoking, however, it is recommended.  Wrapping them in either peach paper or aluminum foil helps to break down the fat and protein while tenderizing it because it is essentially steaming in the foil.
    Spritzing is simply spraying whatever you’re smoking every 30-45 minutes with some liquid, usually equal parts vinegar, juice, beer, or water, out of a spray bottle to help keep the ribs moist and flavor them.
    Properly smoked ribs should never fall off the bone.  They should easily pull away from the bone when taking a bite.
    Contrary to popular belief, the membrane isn’t thick enough to prevent the rub, sauce, or spritzer from getting through, so it can be left off.
    It’s incredibly hard to probe ribs because the thin cut of meat and bones are so close together. However, they are done at 190° to 203°. It’s better to test the doneness by eye and feel.
    St. Louis-style takes roughly 6 hours to smoke and 30-45 minutes to rest, so plan your day well. With prep time, you’re looking at about 8 hours.
    If you don’t have a smoker, you can follow these procedures in the oven at the same temperature. However, you will not get smokey flavors.
    You can absolutely smoke these ribs on a standard charcoal grill, and if you like to grill and smoke, you should consider pellet grills or even a stone-style grill.
    Seasoning Note: Season, do not cake the rub on it. It should not be a thickly coated rub.
    Remember to scrunch the ribs together once on the smoker to sort of compact them. This will help seal in juices similar to that of trussing.
    Here is how you know your ribs are done: If you pick them up in the center, they droop down into a U shape and slightly start to split. The meat pulls away from the bone on the back of the ribs. When gently moving the ribs, the top skin should slightly crack.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 8gCalories: 645.42kcalCarbohydrates: 8.31gProtein: 34.84gFat: 51.76gSaturated Fat: 16.54gCholesterol: 174.7mgSodium: 2102.82mgPotassium: 653.01mgFiber: 1.54gSugar: 4.08gVitamin A: 890.17IUVitamin C: 0.32mgCalcium: 54.06mgIron: 2.76mg
    Course: lunch, Main
    Cuisine: American