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Smoked Baby Back Ribs – Using The 3 2 1 Method for Perfection!

Whenever I go to a Barbecue Restaurant, I always order Smoked Baby Back Ribs.

Tender, fall off the bone, juicy ribs that are coated in a caramelized barbecue sauce just makes my mouth water when I see it on the menu.

smoked baby back ribs
Smoked Baby Back Ribs turn out perfect each and every time!

And when I can order a combo platter with Smoked Brisket, Skillet Corn, and Southern Style Cornbread along with the ribs, I think I have died and gone to heaven!

However, there is one small issue. Our favorite barbecue restaurants are located in Texas, and we are not.

So after a trip to Austin last year, I was bound and determined to replicate the taste, texture and flavor of the ribs in my own smoker.

And after many trials of mediocre ribs, we have finally found the perfect method!

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

But before we actually get into how we cook them in our Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, we need to talk about how to prepare the ribs for cooking.

electric smoker
Our electric smoker that we use to smoke our baby back wings

First, remove the ribs from the package and drain and discard the liquid.

Next, remove the extra flap of meat that is connected to the top portion of the rack of ribs. You can certainly cook the meat, but it is best to cut it away from the rack of ribs before doing so.

Now comes the crucial step before making smoked baby back ribs. Flip the ribs over so that the bones are facing towards you. You will see a thin membrane that must be removed in order to cook tender ribs.

rib membrane
Once you have loosened the membrane on the back of the ribs, use a paper towel to pull it off.

Simply slide a knife under the membrane to loosen one portion. Then using a paper towel, pull the membrane away from the bones. You may have to do this a couple of times if the membrane doesn’t come off in one large piece.

Dry Rub

Once the membrane is gone, it is time to season the ribs with your favorite dry rub. You can use a store bought dry rub, like McCormick’s Applewood Rub. Or, you can simply make your own.

dry rub for ribs
Our homemade dry rub made with brown sugar and various spices.

We use the same Homemade Dry Rub recipe for our Smoked Baby Back Ribs that we use for our Pulled Pork recipe. The key here is to combine a little sweetness with your spices. Then sprinkle the dry rub over both sides of the ribs.

While the smoker is coming to temperature, let the ribs sit out on the counter to bring to room temperature. This will also give the dry rub time to penetrate into the meat.

dry rub on ribs
Sprinkle the dry rub on the ribs and let them sit until the smoker comes to temperature.

Fill the smoker with your prefer wood chips. Our favorite wood chips for this recipe is apple wood. However, pecan or mesquite work well too!

Now it is time to reveal the actual cooking method.

3 2 1 Method

We use what is known as the 3 2 1 method when cooking smoked baby back ribs. This simply means that you place the seasoned ribs directly on the smoker rack for 3 hours.

ribs brown sugar
The ribs are removed from the smoker and then placed in foil with brown sugar, butter and apple juice.

Then remove the ribs and place them in foil with a little brown sugar, butter and apple juice and continue to smoke for an additional 2 hours.

And for the final hour of cooking, remove the ribs from the foil packet and slather on your favorite barbecue sauce.

smoked ribs in foil
Be very careful placing the foil wrapped ribs back in the smoker so that the foil doesn’t rip.

Place the ribs back on smoker’s rack and continue to cook for one hour.

The results are amazing each and every time that we have used this method! Fall off the bone, tender and juicy smoked baby back ribs that are to die for!

barbecue smoked baby back ribs
The ribs have been slathered with barbecue sauce and cooked for one more hour directly on the smoker grate.

Enjoy some of our other Smoker Recipes:

Small batch fudge recipe

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Smoked Baby Back Ribs

smoked baby back ribs

Fall off the bone, tender and juicy baby back pork ribs that are smoked using the famous 3 2 1 method.


  • 1 rack baby back pork ribs
  • 2 Tbsp Dry Rub
  • 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce


  1. Remove the membrane on the back of the ribs and then liberally season both sides of the ribs using the dry rub.
  2. Prepare your smoker for indirect smoking at 190-200° F. Add the wood chips and then place the seasoned ribs on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke for 3 hours.
  3. Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a large baking sheet. Remove the ribs from the smoker and place bone side up onto the foil. Sprinkle the bone side with the brown sugar and top with the butter cut into small pads. Pour the apple cider or juice over top.
  4. Tightly crimp the foil together to create an airtight seal. Carefully return the foil wrapped ribs to the smoker and increase the cooking temperature to 225 degrees. Let the ribs continue to cook for 2 hours in the foil.
  5. Carefully remove the ribs from the smoker and place on a large baking sheet. Carefully open the foil package and use tongs to remove the ribs and place them back on the smoker, bone side down.
  6. Brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce, and continue to cook at 225°F for an additional hour.
  7. Serve immediately with additional barbecue sauce as desired.


Recipe provided by Make Your Meals

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
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