Pre-slicing Ribs Before Smoking Them

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.
Course Entree
Cuisine Hot Smoking
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Servings 4 -6
Author Jeff Phillips

What You'll Need

  • 1-2 racks of baby backs , spare ribs or a mix of the two
  • Foil pans
  • Foil
  • Jeff’s barbecue sauce recipe
  • Jeff’s original rub recipe


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.