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Smoked Texas Style Pork Spare Ribs

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I’ve had a lot of requests for smoked rib recipes that do not include sugar in the rub or sauce.. enter smoked Texas style pork spare ribs!

These are cooked much the same way that all smoked pork spare ribs are cooked but the rub is a Texas style one with mostly salt, pepper, garlic, and onion.

No barbecue sauce is painted on at the end but I’ll show you how to use a savory mop to keep them moist and add layers of flavor while they cook in the smoker.

Helpful Information

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 195°F (91°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Hickory or pecan

What You’ll Need

  • 1 or more slabs pork spare ribs
  • 2 TBS Yellow mustard or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup Jeff’s Texas style rub
  • 1 stick (¼ lb) real butter

Did you know? You can also order the FORMULAS which allow you to make Jeff’s rubs and barbecue sauce at home using your own ingredients! Order the Recipes

What are Texas style Pork Spare Ribs

Most pork ribs are coated with a sugary rub before they are cooked in the smoker to help create a really nice bark.

This is a desired effect however if you are looking to lower your sugar intake due to dietary or health reasons, the Texas style pork ribs will be perfect for you and help you to achieve great tasting smoked pork ribs that contain no sugar or sweetness.

Let’s Make Some Texas Style Pork Spare Ribs

Step 1: Remove Membrane

Use a spoon, butter knife or nimble fingers to get ahold of the thin membrane that covers the meat and bones on the bone side of the ribs.

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Once you get a little of the membrane pulled up, grab it with a dry paper towel and rib it clean off.

If it tears, start again.

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Step 2: Binder and Seasoning

To help the rub to stick, use a thin application of yellow mustard on the ribs. Don’t worry, the ribs won’t taste like mustard once they are cooked. Alternatively, you can use a little vegetable oil if you prefer.

Usually a single TBS is plenty and you can spread it with your hands or use a silicon brush.

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For the seasoning, we’ll be using my Texas style rub simply because it’s low in salt, contains no sugar and is BIG on flavor.

If you want to use just salt and pepper or even another rub, that’s fine too.

If you’re using my Texas style rub, sprinkle an even, light coat onto the bone side of the ribs first.

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Then, flip the ribs over to meaty side up, add some mustard or oil and sprinkle on another even, light coat.

The Texas style pork spare ribs are now ready for the smoker.

Note: I like to do this process the night before so they can sit in the fridge overnight before cooking. This seems to improve the flavor.

Step 3: Get the Smoker Ready

Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225°F (107°C) using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

Make sure you have enough smoking wood to last about 3 hours. I used hickory wood for mine but almost any smoking wood will work fine for these.

Step 4: Cook Time

Once the smoker is ready, place the seasoned Texas style pork spare ribs onto the grate of your smoker and close the lid.

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Leave them alone for about 3 hours and just keep the smoke flowing.

Step 5: Mop On Some Moisture

Just before 3 hours is up, make up a mop sauce as follows:

Melt butter in the microwave or over the stove top. Once it’s good and melted, stir in the Texas style rub.

Use a mop or silicone brush to apply the mob liberally to the top side of the Texas style pork spare ribs.

Do this about every 30 minutes until they are done cooking.

You may need to make more of the mop sauce if you run out but it’s worth it and adds a lot of flavor to the finished product.

Step 6: Finish Up

I do not wrap these at any point but if you cook them until they reach an internal temperature of 195°F (91°C), they will be perfectly tender.

Some of you will say that it’s difficult to take a proper reading on pork ribs but it’s really not that bad. Find the meat between the bones and insert your thermometer there making sure the tip is in the thickest part and does not touch the bone.

Another visual cue is the meat will begin to shrink on the ends causing the bones to protrude. This is a great indicator that they are getting done.

Another cue is how much they bend. You can pick up the rack of ribs with a pair of tongs and if they almost bend in half and start to break, they are done.

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Step 7: Slice and Serve

Give the smoked Texas style pork spare ribs a final application of the butter/rub mop and bring them into the house.

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If you’re not ready to eat just yet, it’s okay to wrap them in foil at the point and just keep them warm for an hour or two.

Otherwise..

Lay them on the cutting board and separate them with a sharp knife, right between the bones. This is sometimes easier to do if you lay them bone side up.

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Did you know? You can also order the FORMULAS which allow you to make Jeff’s rubs and barbecue sauce at home using your own ingredients! Order the Recipes

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Smoked Texas Style Pork Spare Ribs

I’ve had a lot of requests for smoked rib recipes that do not include sugar in the rub or sauce.. enter smoked Texas style pork spare ribs!

  • Author: Jeff Phillips
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 persons 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 or more slabs pork spare ribs
  • 2 TBS Yellow mustard or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup Jeff’s Texas style rub
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb) real butter

Instructions

  1. Remove plastic-like membrane from bone side of ribs using a spoon or butter knife.
  2. Apply a TBS of yellow mustard or vegetable oil to the entire surface to help “bind” the rub to the meat.
  3. Sprinkle on a light coat of Jeff’s Texas style rub.
  4. Flip the ribs over and apply the mustard/oil and seasoning to the meaty side.
  5. Place the ribs in the fridge overnight if you are making them ahead of time, otherwise, they are ready for the smoker.
  6. Setup your smoker for cooking at 225°F (107°C) using indirect heat. if your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
  7. Once the smoker is ready, place the rack(s) on the grate and leave them alone for about 3 hours.
  8. Make a mop using 1 stick of melted butter and 2 TBS of Jeff’s Texas style rub. Mix together well and apply liberally to the ribs about every 30 minutes during the last 2-3 hours of the cook time.
  9. When the ribs reach 195°F (91°C) as measured right between the bones, they are finished cooking. You may also see the bones protruding due to the meat shrinking up along the sides and when lifted with tongs, the rack of ribs will bend almost in half.
  10. Wrap in foil and keep them warm for an hour or two if you’re not eating right away.
  11. When it’s almost time to eat, lay them on the cutting board and slice into individual ribs right between the bones.
  12. Enjoy!

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4 Comments

  1. i have followed you for several years now and have used many of your recipes and have enjoyed them all. I also purchased the formulas for the rubs and found I don’t need any other rubs.

  2. I don’t put sugar or salt in my rubs. And, I salt the day before. After a while, the salt pulls juice out, and then soaks it back up. (Meat side down, please.) At that point, the ribs are wet and don’t need a binder at all. The rub sticks just fine.
    If I want sugar, I use muscovado sugar and add it just before going into the smoker. That sugar won’t burn like white sugar or regular brown sugar, which is white sugar with molasses added back. I smoke ribs at 275 and it takes 4-5 hours. No mop needed, they are plenty juicy. The outside is dry, but not dried out. I then tent them for 15-30 minutes, which redistributes the juice within, and the outside is no longer dry.
    And, I find the easiest way to cut them is with a sharp knife and the ribs on edge, thick side down. I can do a whole rack in under a minute.

  3. this is pretty much how I do mine the only two differences I do is One Bone side down for two hours and then flip them for a half hour then back again to finish on the Bone side downed ! after we take them off the smoker if they are NOT going to be eaten right away I I like to wrap in plastic wrap ( Seranwrap ) then Foil,for some reason the flavor seems to increase this way maybe its just me !

  4. this is pretty much how I do mine the only two differences I do is One Bone side down for two hours and then flip them for a half hour then back again to finish on the Bone side downed ! after we take them off the grill if they are NOT going to be eaten right away I I like to wrap in plastic wrap ( Seranwrap ) for some reason the flavor seems to increase this way maybe its just me !