Smoked St. Louis Ribs are cooked slowly until they become incredibly tender, practically falling off the bone, and bursting with juicy, flavorful goodness.
Cooking these ribs in the smoker is the ideal method for achieving the most delectable taste for this meal that’s sure to please a crowd. Your family won’t be able to resist these succulent ribs with their irresistible sticky BBQ sauce coating.
Table of Contents
Smoked St. Louis Ribs
St. Louis Ribs distinguish themselves from standard spare ribs or baby back ribs in several ways. They have a flatter, more uniform shape that makes them easier to handle. Additionally, they contain a higher amount of fat, which enhances their natural flavor and results in tender, mouthwatering meat as they cook.
Although smoking ribs requires more time compared to using gas grills, the effort is well worth it. This cooking method involves slow, indirect heat that allows the ribs to tenderize perfectly over time. You can also elevate the flavor by using flavored wood chunks, such as hickory, apple, or cherry wood, which will impart a delightful taste to the ribs.
Selecting Ribs: When purchasing ribs, look for racks with pinkish-red coloring, marbling of fat throughout, and no dark spots or meat that’s too light. Ensure that the butcher didn’t cut the meat too close to the rib bones.
Dry Rub: Create a flavorful dry rub using ingredients like brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, garlic, and other seasonings. This rub will provide a perfect blend of bold, spicy, and sweet flavors.
Spritz: During the cooking process, periodically spritz the ribs with a mixture of pineapple juice and apple cider vinegar. This not only adds extra flavor but also helps keep the meat moist and tender.
Pineapple Juice: The pineapple juice not only infuses the meat with flavor but also contributes acidity, which helps break down connective tissues in the meat, resulting in more tender and juicy ribs.
BBQ Sauce: Finish by coating the ribs with BBQ sauce to achieve that classic Smoked St. Louis Ribs flavor.
- Prep time: Start the Smoked St. Louis Ribs recipe by preheating the smoker temperature to 275 degrees. The low smoking temperature is essential to getting extra juicy ribs. If your smoker requires it, you should also put a pan of water in the smoker’s corner to keep moisture in. However, most pellet grills won’t need you to do that. To prepare the pieces of meat, remove the membrane on the bottom of the ribs. You can also ask your butcher to take care of this when buying the rib rack.
- Seasoning: Combine the dry spice rub in a small bowl. Then sprinkle the seasoning over the rib rack on all sides. Let the seasoned ribs sit on the counter for 1 hour. It’s essential to let the meat rest because that period of time brings the ribs all to the same temperature and makes sure the spice rub sticks. The even temperature helps the meat to cook at the same rate.
- Cooking time: Place the rib rack in the preheated smoker for 3 hours. Fill a spray bottle with ½ cup pineapple juice and ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar during the smoking time. Then spritz the ribs every hour throughout the cooking time.
- Sheet pan cooking: After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the heat source and place them on a baking sheet. Then pour 1 cup pineapple juice over the ribs. Cover the baking sheet in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and put the ribs in the smoker for another 2 hours.
- Barbecue sauce: After 2 hours, remove the heavy-duty foil from the baking sheet. Then brush the ribs with a heavy coating of barbecue sauce. Place the ribs back in the smoker without the aluminum foil. Continue cooking for an hour to set the sauce coating and finish cooking.
- Finish: Ribs have to reach at least 145 degrees internal temperature to be safe to eat, but they may still be tough at that point. To check the rib doneness by eye, pick up a rib rack on one side with tongs. It should be flexible enough that the other side bends towards the ground. If done, remove the Smoked St. Louis Ribs from the heat source, and give them 10 minutes of rest time. Then slice between each rib bone and serve!
Sauce Variations: To infuse your Smoked St. Louis Ribs with unique flavors, consider blending your preferred sauce with the BBQ sauce before applying it to the ribs. Get creative by mixing in hot sauce for a spicy barbecue sauce or introducing a savory mustard twist with yellow mustard or whole grain mustard. Since you’re using a smoker, your ribs will naturally possess a delightful smoky essence. To amplify this smokiness, you can enhance the sauce coating by incorporating a touch of liquid smoke.
Apple Juice Option: Pineapple juice imparts a sweet, tangy, and slightly summery flavor to the ribs. For a cozier and more homely flavor profile, you might opt for apple juice instead. This will introduce comforting and familiar notes to your dish.
- 2 racks of St. Louis Ribs
- ▢1 cup pineapple juice
- ▢1 cup homemade BBQ sauce
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 pineapple juice
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
Preheat the Smoker: Begin by preheating your smoker to a temperature of 275°F. For most pellet grills, adding a water pan to the smoker isn’t necessary, but it can help retain moisture if needed.
Prepare the Ribs: If you haven’t already done so, remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. Alternatively, you can ask your butcher to handle this step for you.
Apply Dry Rub: Combine the dry rub seasonings and evenly sprinkle them onto the ribs, ensuring all sides are coated. Allow the seasoned ribs to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. This resting period helps the meat reach an even temperature and ensures the rub adheres well, resulting in a more uniform cook.
Smoke the Ribs: Place the seasoned ribs in the preheated smoker and maintain a temperature of 275°F. During the smoking process, spritz the ribs every hour after the first hour.
Transition to Aluminum Pan: After smoking for 3 hours, transfer the ribs to an aluminum pan. Pour 1 cup of pineapple juice into the pan and cover it with aluminum foil, ensuring a tight seal around the edges.
Continue Cooking: Place the aluminum pan back in the smoker and cook for an additional 2 hours.
Glaze with BBQ Sauce: Following the 2-hour mark, remove the aluminum foil covering from the pan and generously coat the ribs with BBQ sauce.
Final Cooking Stage: Continue to cook the ribs for an additional hour to set the sauce and complete the cooking process.
Rest and Slice: Once done, remove the ribs from the smoker and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. After resting, slice the ribs between each bone.
Serve and Enjoy!: Your Smoked St. Louis Ribs are now ready to be served and enjoyed.
Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 1052mg | Potassium: 344mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 529IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 2mg