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Smoked Pork Baby Back Ribs for Christmas

Here is the recipe and tutorial for the tender, smoked baby back ribs that I make every year for Christmas at our house. Everyone loves them and you will too.
Course Entree
Cuisine Hot Smoking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Servings 4 -6
Author Jeff Phillips


  • 2 + racks of pork baby back ribs
  • Vegetable oil ((optional))
  • Yellow mustard ((optional))
  • Jeff’s rub ((purchase recipes here))
  • Heavy duty foil


Getting the Ribs Prepped

  • Remove the membrane.
  • Apply some vegetable oil or yellow mustard to the ribs to help the rub to stick real nice to the meat.

Cinnamon (optional)

  • Use a 50:50 mix of cinnamon and white sugar
  • After you add the vegetable oil, just sprinkle a very light dusting of the cinnamon sugar on both sides of the ribs (it doesn’t take a lot).
  • For an alternative to the extra layer of cinnamon, I had a reader tell me that he mixes in 1 TBS of cinnamon per batch of my rub for a nice flavor.

Season the Ribs

  • Sprinkle my rub on the bone side first.
  • Let the ribs sit there just a few minutes to let the rub absorb the oil and create a paste.
  • Flip ribs over to meaty side up and repeat oil and rub
  • Let the ribs sit there a little longer while you go get the smoker ready.

Set Up the Smoker

  • Set up your smoker for cooking at about 240°F if possible. Be sure to use a tried and true thermometer to make sure that your smoker is running at the temperature that it says it is.
  • Once your smoker is heated up and ready to smoke, it’s time to get those ribs on the grate.

Smoke the Pork Baby Back Ribs

  • Step 1
  • Place the ribs bone side down if possible.
  • Let the ribs cook at about 240°F and with smoke for 2 hours.
  • Step 2
  • At the end of 2 hours, wrap the ribs with foil.
  • Do this carefully so as to not tear the foil. If you do happen to tear it, just double wrap it with another piece.
  • Place the wrapped ribs back into the 240°F smoker and you can even stack them all together if you need to.
  • Let them cook in this wrapped state for about 2 hours.
  • Step 3
  • With a total of 4 hours past, you now want to unwrap them again.
  • They will be very soft on the outside and very tender on the inside, and this last step is to firm up the outside just a little before serving them.
  • Remove the foil and place them back into the 240°F smoker for 1 hour.
  • Alternative for Step 3
  • Throw them on a very hot grill and let the high heat give them a good char. Paint on some barbecue sauce if you like sticky ribs.

Serve the Ribs

  • Slice up the ribs and serve them


  • What if I want to do spare ribs or St. Louis style spares? No problem. Follow the same basic process but add an extra hour to the first step. It will end up being 3-2-1.
  • Should I put liquid down in the foil during step 2? You can and many do but I found of late that I get better results with less steam. By leaving out the liquid, there is less steam and the rub stays intact better.
  • Should I brine my ribs? I have liquid brined the ribs for about 6 hours and the results were very good. Dry brining using 1 TBS of kosher salt for the entire rack makes the meat too salty and “hammy” for my liking so I don’t recommend it.
  • Not enough room. Is it ok to use a rib rack? If you have to use a rib rack due to space constraints, that is fine but I feel that the flat, bone side down is the best position since that allows the juices to pool on top of the meat and keeps the ribs more moist while they cook.
  • Do I need to use a water pan? If your smoker came new designed to be used with a water pan, it is always a good idea to use it unless you are drying meat/making jerky.