Rick Shaw, a newsletter subscriber, smoker enthusiast and one who is obviously not afraid to do things differently, emailed me a couple of weeks ago mentioning that he slices ribs individually before smoking them. He included his own technique and method for doing this.

I know that people sometimes cut racks of ribs into halves or maybe into pieces that are 3 to 4 bones each but you just don't hear about folks cooking single bone pork ribs. Here's to a new and possibly better way to cook ribs!

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Helpful Information
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 5-6 hours
  • Smoker temperature: 240°F
  • Meat Finish temperature: N/A
  • Recommended wood: Pecan and/or Cherry
What You'll Need

Get the Recipes for Jeff's Rub and Sauce


recipe-ad-rubAs many of you have discovered and taken the time to write beaming testimonies about, my rub, as well as the sauce, is great on everything but, if it truly shines brighter on any one type of meat, it has to be pork ribs.

After trying this method, you may never be able to enjoy ribs again without my original rub on them. I apologize in advance.

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Step 1: Rinse and Pat Dry

Remove ribs from package and rinse well under cold water.

Pat dry with paper towels and lay on cutting board.

2015-IMG_7977

Step 2: Remove Membrane

If the ribs have a membrane (thick plastic-like skin on bone side), it's a good idea to remove it if you can.

2015-IMG_7978 2015-IMG_7991

Loosen with your fingers, butter knife, spoon, etc.

2015-IMG_7981

Grab with a paper towel (for better grip) or you can use catfish skinning pliers as well and pull clean off.

If you are having trouble with it, you can also score the skin with a sharp knife and leave it at that. Don't let it frustrate you.

Step 3: Slice

This is where the normal methods of smoking ribs goes off the rails.

Usually, at this point, we'd add rub and be done with it.

Using this method, I highly recommend waiting until later to add the rub.

Baby backs:

Use a very sharp knife and slice right between the bones.

2015-IMG_7984
Spare ribs:

For best results, trim these up St. Louis style. This just means you remove the brisket bone that runs along the leading edge and square them up a little by removing the extra pieces of meat on the ends.

I also recommend that you remove that extra flap of meat on the boney side of the ribs. If there's no flap, it may have already been removed.

2015-IMG_7997

Once they are all trimmed up, place them with the bone side facing up and using a sharp knife, slice between the bones.

2015-IMG_7999

The extra pieces that were trimmed off earlier can also be cut into smaller pieces if you so desire.

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Step 4: Arrange onto Bradley Rack

I like to arrange these onto a Bradley rack so I can ensure that all of the pieces get full access to the smoke but it's not absolutely necessary. It is perfectly ok to just put the ribs and pieces into a large foil pan.

2015-IMG_7986 2015-IMG_8003

Note: If you do not have Bradley racks or these racks do not fit in your smoker, you can also place the ribs directly on the smoker grate with a little space between each one.

Step 5: Get the  Smoker Going

These will do well on any smoker or even a grill as long as you can maintain temperatures between 225-240°F using indirect heat.

Make sure you have enough smoking wood for about 3-4 hours of smoke. I used pecan with cherry, use the smoking wood that you like and what you have available to you.

If your smoker has a water pan, I recommend using it.

Once the smoker is set up and holding the proper temperature, you can proceed with cooking the ribs.

Step 6: Smoke for 2 hours

The first step in cooking these pre-sliced ribs is to smoke them for about 2 hours at 225-240°F. With no rub and no membrane, the smoke has absolute access to the meat and that's a good thing.

As mentioned earlier, this can be done on bradley racks, directly on the smoker grate or you can place the open foil pan of ribs (uncovered) onto the smoker grate.

2015-IMG_8008

If using the pan method, you'll want to rearrange the ribs after an hour to make sure all of the ribs are getting plenty of smoke.

Step 7: Add Rub and Braise in Foil

After 2 hours of cooking with smoke, the ribs will be looking and smelling really good but they still have a ways to go.

2015-IMG_8010

It's time to tenderize them with a little braising action.

If the ribs are on Bradley racks or directly on the smoker grate, it's time to toss them into a foil pan. Sprinkle a little of Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here) on them for the first layer of flavor. During the braising process, there will be a lot of steam inside the pan and the rub won't necessarily stick to the ribs but it will mix with the juices and do a great job of adding flavor to the ribs.

For clarity, I had a rack of baby backs and a rack of spare ribs in the pan. I used about ¼ cup of Jeff's rub (purchase recipes here) to just give the ribs a good dusting of flavor.

2015-IMG_8011

Cover the foil pan of rubbed ribs with foil. Make sure it's tight around the edges to keep the steam inside.

Put them back into the smoker at 225-240°F.

Leave them this way for about 1.5 hours depending on how tender you want them. It's ok to check them at the end of 1 hour and see how tender they are getting.

As ribs get more tender, the meat tends to pull back exposing the ends of the bones. You want to see the bones sticking out about ¼ in most cases.

When this step is finished, simply remove the foil cover from the top of the pan.

2015-IMG_8019

Step 8: Add the Main Layer of Rub and Sauce

Now we arrive at the fun part of the process!

I hope you have a batch of my barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here) ready. I recommend having it in a squeeze bottle with the end cut large enough so it's easy to squeeze it out.

Apply about a cup of Jeff's barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here) all over the ribs. This not only adds flavor, it creates an excellent medium for helping the delicious rub to stick to the ribs.

2015-IMG_8021

Toss the ribs around in the pan to make sure they are well coated with the sauce.

Now sprinkle Jeff's rub (purchase recipes here) all over the tops of the ribs (I used about ½ cup).

Toss the ribs around again to get the rub all over as evenly as possible.

2015-IMG_8025

Step 9: Finish Smoke Cooking

With the top left uncovered, continue to cook the ribs for an additional 2 hours or until they are at the consistency that you want.

I tested one at the 1.5 hour mark and decided they needed another 30 minutes. I recommend you test them in the same manner.

Step 10: Serve Up

When they are done cooking, you can cover them with foil, and hold them on low heat for an hour or serve them right away.

Since they are already sliced up, Dump them into a serving container or let folks grab them right out of the pan.. your choice.

2015-IMG_8031

Questions/Comments:

So what's so great about this new way of cooking ribs in the smoker?

First and foremost, you get more surface area to apply rub and sauce. I get lots of emails about how to make ribs more flavorful and some even ask if it helps to brine them.

I have not had a ton of luck brining ribs and I have played around with it.

By cutting the ribs into single pieces with a bone that runs through the center, you end up with more meat surface area for the smoke to get into and ultimately you can apply sauce and rub to the cut sides instead of just the top and bottom of the rib.

Can you go ahead and apply mustard and rub like usual once you've sliced them up?

Sure! Slice them babies up, and apply yellow mustard and then rub. toss them all around to get a good even coating all over and you will have some really tasty ribs. Heck, you could even do this the night before if you wanted to.

You still might want to apply a little more rub after the braising process since the steaming tends to cause some of the rub to melt away. There's still a lot of flavor left there but I would definitely add another sprinkling and maybe even some barbecue sauce if you want to.

You should not be using aluminum as it's been linked to Alzheimers?

This is a controversial subject and while I have not decided, as of yet, to eliminate the use of aluminum for cooking in my home, if you have, then, you can certainly use a pan made from a food safe and heat safe material.

What's the difference between Jeff's rub, Jeff's Original rub and Jeff's rib rub?

No difference at all. All of these names refer to my Jeff's Naked Rib Rub recipe. As many of you know, it was designed especially for ribs initially. We then found out that it was really good on almost everything so it made sense to not always refer to it as a “rib” rub but in a more generic term.

It seems that pre-slicing the ribs might make them dry out more?

It may seem that way but, in my own tests, they were just as tender and moist as any rib I've ever made as a whole slab.

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***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!

If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.

Read these recent testimonies:

"Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well!" ~Peter S.
"I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while." ~Darwyn B.
"Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future!" ~Michelle M.

You see the raving testimonies and you wonder, "Can the recipes really be that good?"

No worries! Make up a batch and if it's not as good as you've heard.. simply ask for a refund. Now that's a bargain and you know it. Let's review:

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Jeff's Smoking Meat Book

smoking-meat-book-cover-275x289The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that "no smoker should be without this book"!

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Printable Recipe

4.9 from 8 reviews
Pre-slicing Ribs Before Smoking Them
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
There's a standard way to make smoked pork ribs and, up until now, it did not include pre-slicing them. This is an amazing recipe/technique and I recommend you try it.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
Instructions
Step 1: Rinse and Pat Dry
  1. Remove ribs from package and rinse well under cold water
  2. Pat dry with paper towels and lay on cutting board
Step 2: Remove Membrane
  1. If the ribs have a membrane (thick plastic-like skin on bone side), it’s a good idea to remove it if you can.
  2. Loosen with your fingers, butter knife, spoon, etc.
  3. Grab with a paper towel (for better grip) or you can use catfish skinning pliers as well and pull clean off.
  4. If you are having trouble with it, you can also score the skin with a sharp knife and leave it at that. Don’t let it frustrate you.
Step 3: Slice
  1. Baby backs: Use a very sharp knife and slice right between the bones.
  2. Spare ribs: For best results, trim these up St. Louis style. This just means you remove the brisket bone that runs along the leading edge and square them up a little by removing the extra pieces of meat on the ends
  3. I also recommend that you remove that flap of meat that sticks up on the meaty side of the ribs. If there’s no flap of meat on the meaty side, it may have already been removed.
  4. Once they are all trimmed up, place them with the bone side facing up and using a sharp knife, slice between the bones.
  5. The extra pieces that were trimmed off earlier can also be cut into smaller pieces if you so desire.
Step 4: Arrange onto Bradley Rack
  1. I like to arrange these onto a Bradley rack so I can ensure that all of the pieces get full access to the smoke but it’s not absolutely necessary. It is perfectly ok to just put the ribs and pieces into a large foil pan. If you do not have Bradley racks or these racks do not fit in your smoker, you can also place the ribs directly on the smoker grate with a little space between each one.
Step 5: Get the Smoker Going
  1. These will do well on any smoker or even a grill as long as you can maintain temperatures between 225-240°F using indirect heat.
  2. Make sure you have enough smoking wood for about 3-4 hours of smoke.
  3. If your smoker has a water pan, I recommend using it.
  4. Once the smoker is set up and holding the proper temperature, you can proceed with cooking the ribs.
Step 6: Smoke for 2 hours
  1. The first step in cooking these pre-sliced ribs is to smoke them for about 2 hours at 225-240°F. With no rub and no membrane, the smoke has absolute access to the meat and that’s a good thing.
  2. As mentioned earlier, this can be done on bradley racks, directly on the smoker grate or you can place the open foil pan of ribs (uncovered) onto the smoker grate.
  3. If using the pan method, you’ll want to rearrange the ribs after an hour to make sure all of the ribs are getting plenty of smoke.
Step 7: Add Rub and Braise in Foil
  1. If the ribs are on Bradley racks or directly on the smoker grate, it’s time to toss them into a foil pan. Sprinkle a little rub on them for the first layer of flavor. During the braising process, there will be a lot of steam inside the pan and the rub won’t necessarily stick to the ribs but it will mix with the juices and do a great job of adding flavor to the ribs. For clarity, I had a rack of baby backs and a rack of spare ribs in the pan. I used about ¼ cup of Jeff’s rub to just give the ribs a good dusting of flavor.
  2. Cover the foil pan of rubbed ribs with foil. Make sure it’s tight around the edges to keep the steam inside.
  3. Leave them this way for 1 to 1.5 hours depending on how tender you want them. It’s ok to check them at the end of 1 hour and see how tender they are getting. As ribs get more tender, the meat tends to pull back exposing the ends of the bones. You want to see the bones sticking out about ¼ in most cases.
  4. When this step is finished, simply remove the foil cover from the top of the pan.
Step 8: Add the Main Layer of Rub and Sauce
  1. Apply about a cup of my barbecue sauce all over the ribs. This not only adds flavor, it creates an excellent medium for helping the delicious rub to stick to the ribs.
  2. Toss the ribs around in the pan to make sure they are well coated with the sauce.
  3. Now sprinkle rub all over the tops of the ribs (I used about ½ cup).
  4. Toss the ribs around again to get the rub all over as evenly as possible.
Step 9: Finish Smoke Cooking
  1. With the top left uncovered, continue to cook the ribs for an additional 1.5 to 2 hours or until they are at the consistency that you want.
Step 10: Serve Up
  1. When they are done cooking, you can cover them with foil, and hold them on low heat for an hour or serve them right away.
  2. Since they are already sliced up, Dump them into a serving container or let folks grab them right out of the pan.. your choice.
About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

11 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Brown February 14, 2017 at 9:34 am - Reply

    I’ll be those appetizers went fast. I could eat a whole tray of them.

  2. Eric N June 23, 2016 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Jeff,

    Awesome site, ideas, and most importantly the recipes!!!!!

    Question: Can you, would you, or recommend pre-slicing beef ribs?

    Thanks and keep up the GREAT SITE!!

  3. William June 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Where i’m from – cutting up a rack of ribs is a big no no! However, this article has persuaded me to give it a try, at least once!

  4. John March 27, 2016 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Jeff, I tried your pre-sliced ribs recipe today. Flavor was great, but the meat turn out a little too dry for my taste. Any advice? I used St Louis ribs from costco that I previously sliced, froze and unfroze. Smoked at 235F for 2 hours, brazed for 1 hour and uncovered for 1 hour 40 minutes. Got done early, so I recovered pan and let them rest in oven at 135F for an hour.

    Thanks!

  5. Joe September 6, 2015 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    I made these tonight and mostly followed your recipe.

    I bought your rub and sauce, a while ago, and the sauce is one of my 3 Go-To sauces.

    I had a little ooops this time with your sauce. I didn’t make enough and didn’t realize it until I was getting ready to pull the ribs for the first basting. What I ended up doing was I added 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. What it did was cut the heat a little, and added another layer of yum.

    This is my Birthday weekend, and this was my birthday gift to myself. Great recipe.

    Joe

  6. Jim C August 23, 2015 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I cooked a slab of St Louis ribs using this method yesterday. They are FANTASTIC. And your rub recipe is awesome.

  7. Brianslg August 23, 2015 at 8:59 am - Reply

    I made two racks of baby backs using this recipe yesterday for our annual fantasy football draft. I host each year, and smoke ribs and another meat each time. This time I smoked italian sausage and brats to go with the ribs.
    I loved this method of smoking the ribs – especially when it came to serving. No slicing hot ribs, no transferring to a platter – just pulled them off the smoker already in the pan, threw some foil over it, faux cambro’d ’em, and pulled them out once it was time to eat.
    They were excellent, and the texture with a bit of crisp on the edges, and the extra rub flavor was amazing. Everyone thought they were great. I think this will be my goto method for smaller get-togethers – the one downside is that I can only fit two racks of ribs on the two grates of my ECB sliced, where as with rib racks I can fit 4.
    Thanks for the great idea!

  8. Mike Bailey August 20, 2015 at 10:21 am - Reply

    These turned out great better than the 3-2-1 method. Great bark and chew of course using Jeff’s rub and sauce you cant go wrong.

  9. Mark Ladwig August 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Okay. I am totally impressed. I followed the instructions for Pre-slicing Ribs before smoking them and the results were nothing short of fantastic. Even my wife, who could take or leave smoked meats, loved them. I give this recipe five stars and kudos to Rick Shaw for stepping out and trying something new and sharing his results with us.

  10. Josh August 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    Hey Jeff! Looking forward to doing this. Question on the braising part – do you place the ribs back into the smoker for that or just leave them out and enclosed?

    Thanks!

    • Jeff Phillips August 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm - Reply

      The braising is done in the smoker at the same temperature throughout.

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