I usually prefer the ribs be simply dry rubbed and smoked with maybe a little sauce on the side but sometimes you just want some sticky, messy smoked ribs and this recipe is all about that.

This method calls for dry rubbing the ribs with Jeff’s original rub recipe (purchase recipes) and then smoking them for about 2 hours. After that, you start layering on Jeff’s barbecue sauce (purchase recipes) and letting it sort of caramelize onto the ribs as they finish cooking in the smoker. I reapply the sauce about every hour or so until the ribs are done.

Wear a bib and make sure you have plenty of napkins.. you’re gonna need them!

Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce

recipe-ad-rubMy rub is not only great on ribs and all pork, but it is absolutely amazing on poultry, beef, fish, seafood and even vegetables like corn!

promise you’ll love my dry rub/seasoning recipe and my barbecue sauce recipe or you don’t pay!

Reasons to buy: Support the newsletter and the website | Own “the recipes” | Get the email newsletter 100% AD FREE from now on | Includes the Texas style rub recipe

Order the Recipes for Jeff's Rub and Sauce

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4-5 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225-240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 180-190°F or Tender
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan and/or Cherry
What You’ll Need
How to Prepare Ribs for Smoking

Remove ribs from pan and rinse them under cold water. Place in a foil pan for application of mustard and rub.

Place baby back ribs in a foil pan

Note: I did not remove the membrane this time but, normally I do. I experimented with this batch to see if leaving the membrane on changes anything.. it made no noticeable difference other than to get in my way when I was eating. My recommendation: always remove it.

Apply yellow mustard to the top of the ribs

Apply mustard to top of ribs

Spread mustard all over ribs with your hands making sure to include the sides and ends.

Spread mustard over ribs

You do not have to worry.. the ribs do not end up tasting like mustard.

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of Jeff’s original rub (purchase recipes) evenly on each rack, Please note, we are only putting the rub on the top (meaty side) of the ribs this time due to the membrane still being attached but normally, I add the rub to the bottom first and then the top.

Sprinkle ½ cup of rub on each rack of rib

Leave the ribs sitting for a few minutes while the rub and mustard create a paste. It will get a “wet” look when it’s done. See the difference?

Leave the ribs sitting until you get a "wet" look

How to Smoke the Sticky Ribs

You can make these in ANY smoker whether it’s electric, charcoal, gas or wood. As long as you have heat and good smoke.. it will work. Rather than trying to tell everyone how to smoke these in every individual type of smoker, I give you the heat and time recommendations and ta-da.. it works in any smoker.

Here’s some instructions for popular smokers:

I opted to use the Big Green Egg ceramic cooker this time.

Get your smoker going and maintaining about 225-240°F before placing the ribs on.

Once the smoker is holding steady and smoke is coming out of the top vent or chimney, place the pan with the ribs in it right on the grate. You can also place the ribs directly on the grate if you wish.

The first 2 hours are all about getting smoke flavor on the ribs. I have found that I can get lots of smoke flavor while still using a pan with the ribs on the egg but this is all personal preference. It does keep the smoker a lot cleaner.

Note: You can pour some juice down in the pan if you like to create a little steam and help them to tenderize.

Place pan of ribs on smoker grate

2 hours later, we are ready to start making the ribs STICKY!

Jeff's sauce

Paint my barbecue sauce (purchase recipes) generously onto the top and sides of the ribs

Paint sauce onto ribs

At this point, let the heat creep up to about 275°F if you can and hold that for about an hour. The higher temperature will help to caramelize that sauce a lot better. As an added bonus, the ribs should get done a little faster than usual.

After about an hour, you can move the ribs to the grates to finish up directly on the grates. I placed a shallow pan on top of the plate setter on my Big Green Egg to catch the drippings and keep things a little cleaner.

Ribs moved to the grates

At this point, you are looking for the sauce to darken and for the ribs to become tender.

How to Tell When The Ribs Are Done?

The best way to check for tenderness is to pick up the ribs on one end with a pair of tongs. If they bend 90 degrees and start to break in half, they are done.

If you want to use a thermometer, use one that has a very thin probe such as the Thermapen that will easily get between the bones. Tender ribs usually read around 180-190°F.

I get emails all the time asking me how to make the ribs fall off the bone while others email me and chide me for telling folks how to “overcook” them that way.

Folks.. it’s all about preference and if you like them falling off the bone then who am I to tell you that there is something wrong with that.

On the flip side, if you like them with a little tug left on the meat then I’m not going to tell you that there is something wrong with that.

Do the ribs the way that YOU and YOUR FAMILY likes them. They’ll be perfect that way.

Here’s my ribs.. done and tender to my family’s liking. If you like them more sticky, go ahead and paint on another layer. This was sticky enough for me.

Sticky smoked ribs.. done

Close up of done ribs

I usually cut the ribs up into a pile and set it in the middle of the table.. it’s messy this time and paper towels are required.

Pile of sticky smoked ribs

  1. Rinse ribs in cold water.
  2. Place ribs in foil pan.
  3. Apply yellow mustard to ribs.
  4. Sprinkle Jeff’s rub (purchase recipes) onto ribs.
  5. Prepare smoker for cooking at 225-240°F.
  6. Place ribs on smoker either in pan or directly on grate.
  7. Smoke for 2 hours.
  8. Increase heat to 275°F if desired and brush with sauce.
  9. Cook for 1 hour then move to grate if they are still in the pan.
  10. Cook for an additional hour on grate or until tender.
  • An alternate way of making sticky ribs is similar to the 2-2-1 method in that you add the barbecue sauce after the 2nd hour and cover the pan with foil for 2 hours. The ribs would then go back onto the grates for an additional hour uncovered and more sauce could be added if desired.
  • To super caramelize the sauce, place the ribs meat/sauce side down on a very hot grill for a couple of minutes before serving.

Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce

jeffs-rub-framed-250x169 jeffs-sauce-framed-250x169
***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
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
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
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
..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
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
 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:

  • You decide you don't like the recipes.. you don't pay!
  • The recipes are absolutely amazing!
  • Once you order, there'll be no more recipe ads in the email version of the newsletter
Well.. what are you waiting for.. click on the big orange button below to order the recipes now.

Order the Recipes for Jeff's Rub and Sauce

I really, really appreciate the support from my newsletter friends and be sure to let me know if you have any questions about this.

Order My 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"!

With more than 600 reviews on and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it comes highly recommended.

It is also listed as a #1 Bestseller in Barbecueing & Grilling books on Amazon.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble (in stock at most stores)

Digital versions available via Nook | iTunes | Kindle

Note: German version available under the title "American Smoker" at Orders

If you enjoy the newsletter and would like to do something helpful, then..

The next time you decide to order something at, use THIS LINK to get there and we'll get a small commission off of what you purchase.

Thank you in advance for using our special link:


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

  1. Lee Payan December 26, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Great rub and sauce!

  2. Doug Forsyth October 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Just ordered your recipes sounds good.I have been using a smoker for about 8 years

    mostly fish, lake trout,northern pike,some rainbow trout,good at that! Do you have any

    beef jerky recipes? Tried lots to do it was never happy with it.Would love to hear what

    your thought’s are on this! thanks Doug Cold Lake AB.CA

  3. Dave August 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    ONLY 4 HOURS ???   You sure ?  doesn't seem like enough but i am new to smoking. I thought at least 8 hours at 230 but they are mostly bone. ???

    • Jeff Phillips August 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      Baby backs are usually done in about 4-5 hours while spares will take an extra hour or two depending on the thickness. This is, as you say, assuming you maintain about 225-240 degrees.

      In this particular recipe I recommend cranking the heat up to 275 degrees once you add the sauce which will naturally get them done slightly faster than normal.

      If you find that your ribs are not done in the amount of time prescribed then it is possible that you have some extra meaty ribs or the thermometer on your smoker could be reading incorrectly.

      Done ribs= tender to your liking;)

  4. Rishi April 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    your recipe calls for apple juice, but no where in the steps is it used.

Leave A Response