Best Ever Rib Rub Recipe for Smoking
Todd is a sucker for any kind of smoked meat. Ribs are one of our favorites to throw on the smoker. After much trial and error, we found this to be the best ever rib rub recipe for smoking.
Before we were even together, my Redneck owned his smoker. I had enjoyed smoked meats and cheeses in the past, but lately, the only time I had gotten it was from a friend who uses an electric smoker exclusively. She maintains that the reason they opted for the electric versus wood or pellet was the lack of an open flame with young children in the household. Completely understandable. Todd’s first forte into smoking for me were ribs. Let me tell you, after getting used to the electric smoke the wood reminded me of the good old days.
But I’m a sucker for making anything and everything just a little bit better. Okay, honestly, I want as close to perfection as is possible.
Get a similar smoker here.
I love a good rub. I even mix it into hamburger patties before we grill them. It just adds that little something extra in the flavor department.
Rubbing starts with a good cut of meat. I will always lean toward buying our meat from the local butcher shop. It’s really not “local” considering I have to drive two towns over, but the cuts are better. It’s locally raised livestock. And I know that the people who work there do so because they are an integral part of the community. They take pride in their skills and quality. I just have never gotten that same feeling at a grocery or big box store.
I apologize that I don’t have pictures or video of this step. I will definitely be making an effort to get those for you so you can see that it really is easy. It sounds hard, I know, but with the right technique, pulling off the membrane is simple and makes a world of difference in the final product.
Turn your ribs over to the bone side. You will see the thin layer of clear membrane or skin that ties together the meat. With a very sharp fillet knife, start peeling it back off of the bone. Once you have enough that you can get a decent grip on it, use a paper towel to grip it and slowly rip the rest away. With practice, it becomes a very easy process that you will definitely never skip again.
I do not rinse my meat before I prep it. I know a lot of people do, and if you are getting your meat from the grocery then, by all means, do it for your own sense of well-being. To me, it seems like it rinses away some of the flavors. I simply take a handful of paper towels and pat all of the excess moisture from the meat before placing it on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Lay the ribs out, starting with the bone side. Sprinkle generously with your rub mixture. Then, using your hands, rub it gently into all of the nooks and crannies. Cover as best as you can.
Now, flip to the meat side and repeat. I always end with the meat side so that the rub can mix with the juices and sink into the meat. I’m all for using gravity as a tool, even when cooking.
Once your ribs are completely seasoned and rubbed, you want to cover them in another layer of foil. Place the covered baking sheet into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I like to do it the night before we are going to smoke. It just helps the seasoning permeate the meat to darn near perfection.
Smoking good food is a journey of passion, patience, and practice. It is now time to expend a bit of each of these. Patience is your most important tool in this endeavor. Smoking is not a short or quick process. If this is your first experience, also plan on a touch of self-forgiveness if things don’t go perfectly. That’s where the practice part comes in. Keep trying and hopefully, the passion part will take a good hold.
Whatever your chosen type of smoker, get everything prepped and ready before you even think about the food though. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much out of the gate, lest something might get forgotten or overlooked. You can choose from a wide variety of smoke wood scents/flavors, depending on what you are smoking and what will compliment it best. I used apple wood this time because it complimented the rub very nicely.
Amy and I have also found (practice) that with larger or denser cuts of meat, which includes ribs, getting the meat on the grate before adding heat is preferable. It helps bring the meat up to temp easily without shocking it, which leads to a more succulent result. Be mindful to watch your temp and for heaven’s sake, leave the lid closed during each following step!
I smoked/cooked these ribs at 225 degrees for 6 hours (patience), following the 3-2-1 method (the period of time required for each step). Also keep in mind that the more bulk you have, let’s say 1 rack of ribs vs. 4 will affect your cooking time. I started out with them in a standing rack (exposed bone end up) for 3 hours. This is when you want the maximum amount of smoke rolling on your efforts. Keep in mind that the smoke is actually only effective for 2-3 hours anyway, no matter how long you cook. This period adds the most amount of flavor and creates the nice crusty bark associated with good BBQ.
The second phase is to pull the ribs from the rack and wrap them in foil or a good butchers paper. Place them back in the smoker, laying meat side down, and continue to cook them for another 2 hours. This will continue cooking the meat and allows the internal juices to flow and get things softening up. Be sure to properly maintain your heat!
Finally, unwrap your ribs and place them back on the grate meat side down. Pour, mop, and slather your sauce of choice on nice and thick and cook for another hour, flipping the ribs and re-saucing halfway through. This is the only period of the process that you may allow the heat to come up a bit, say 250ish. This will allow the sauce to thicken and stick to your ribs. This step can also be performed directly on an open flame grill or in an oven.
At this point, you can choose to dig right in or try a couple other processes that may help make them even better. Some folks choose to wrap the ribs and place them in a cooler, buried under towels for an hour or two. Others like to drop them in a crock pot and slow cook them for a few more hours (Amy’s favorite). This is where the personal preferences come in to play so experiment and choose your favorite.
Most importantly…ENJOY!! (Passion!)
Best Ever Rib Rub Recipe for Smoking
Best Ever Rib Rub Recipe for Smoking
Our favorite rub for smoking ribs
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp chili powder *I prefer chipotle but use your favorite here
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp dry mustard
Mix all spices. Store in an airtight container.
Smoked to Perfection
If you are new to smoking, or just have an off day, here’s a trick I use to make sure that the ribs are perfect. If they come off the smoker but the meat isn’t tender to your liking, place them in a crockpot on LOW for about 4-8 hours. This will loosen up the meat and get them to the exact texture you are looking for.
Have your own method or recipe for ribs? I’d love to hear your favorite rib recipes!
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