Beginners Guide to Pork Ribs

Holding ribs from the smoker

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When you are new to all things BBQ you can definitely feel overwhelmed by the lingo, times, and temps. Luckily I have Ryan Lane to break it all down and step by step guide me in smoking pork ribs.

We definitely want to start by saying - There are many debated ways to do barbecue all throughout the world. We are going to walk you through the Lane's way we smoke pork ribs. Specifically geared to someone who is new to BBQ.

Baby back ribs vs Spare ribs

Not all ribs are the same. If you are smoking backyard pork ribs they will be baby back or spare ribs. Baby back ribs are called baby because they are shorter than spare ribs. Baby back ribs typically have more meat on top of the bone and spare ribs have more meat between each bone. Baby back ribs are leaner and more tender than spare ribs. Spare ribs are more marbled, have a bit more flavor on their own, and are preferred for competition bbq. 

How to remove the membrane

The membrane is the tough connective tissue that is on the underside of the ribs. It is not flavorful, has a tough texture, prevents you from seasoning the edible meat, and you just don't want it there. Removing it is simple you just need a paper towel to be able to grip the slippery membrane, a plastic knife or the backend of a spoon handle to get underneath the membrane, and a little bit of muscle. 

Getting knife under the membrane
Pulling the membrane off the ribs with paper towel

Prepping the Ribs

  1. Trimming - typically you don't need to do any kind of trimming other than removing the membrane as we mentioned above. 
  2. Binders - binders are needed only to help keep the seasoning on the piece of meat, they do not add flavor to the ribs. We like to use olive oil, mustard, or even mayonnaise as a binder. Just lightly rub the ribs down with your preferred binder, it does not need to be a thick layer. Just enough to hold your seasoning. 
  3. Seasoning/layering - Now we need some good flavors to compliment the ribs. We start with the underside then move to the top of the ribs. We also like to layer seasonings on our ribs. We use our Brisket rub for our blend of salt, pepper, and garlic then over that layer we like our Spellbound rub to add that sweetness that pairs so well with pork. 
Layering seasonings on baby back ribs

Other Great Lane's Pork Rib Seasonings - 

  • Sweet Heat - Gives a really good sweetness and a nice kick of heat
  • Kapalua Rub - Very unique flavor with Granulated Honey and a bit of a spicy kick.
  • Q-Nami Rub - Asian flavors with Togarashi sugar
  • Lane's Signature Rub - If you are looking for a non sugar rub our Signature rub is exactly what you are looking for. 
  • Honey Sriracha Rub - Great sweet flavor with a crunch from the honey granules. 

Setting up your smoker

Ok this is all about what you have or preference. We have smoked on them all and here are some key takeaways for each.

  • Ceramic - Setup for indirect heat | Make sure your basket is midway to full | Keep an eye on those temps | Add a water pan | Setup wood chunks for lasting smoke
  • Pellet - Make sure your hopper is full of pellets | Great for not needing to manage temp | Great for full consistent smoke
  • Electric - Watch your water pan | Make sure to keep good smoke on it | Great for not needing to manage temp

What type of wood chunks you use is completely up to you. We prefer Cherry Wood, Apple Wood, or the RecTec Pellet blend.

Our Smoking Method

We like to smoke our ribs at 275 degrees for about 2 hours - until the internal temp is at about 175 to 185. There will be a good bend and the bones should be starting to poke out. 

Wrap it up and back on the smoker

Setup two sheets of foil roughly 6 to 10 inches on each side longer that your ribs. Now we are building the base for the ribs to sit in - 1/3 a stick of butter cubed or melted, a handful of light brown sugar, and your choice of bbq sauce (we like sweet and spicy so we chose our Lil Spicy BBQ Sauce). 

Place the ribs meat side down in the base add a layer of bbq sauce on top and wrap it up long side, then both short sides, then finish with the other long side. 

Place back on the smoker meat side down so that the meat cooks in the base we created for one hour. 

Creating base layer for wrapping ribs
Wrapping ribs with bbq sauce

Rest - Optional Put back on the smoker to crisp up

Let it rest for about 30 minutes in the foil. Once you have let it rest unwrap it. You will see that the glaze has covered the ribs and is still a bit wet. If you like your glaze firm, set, and crispy you can set the ribs back on the smoker bone side down for 30 minutes. 

Cut and Plating

Don't let any time waste from here. You can start ripping bones off and going at it if you want. Or what we like to do is cut between each bone and set them up on a plate or bowl and pour the glaze we created from the foil over the top of the bones. No need to waste all that work. 

Pouring rib glaze over top of cut ribs

Last tip - Be sure to sit down, eat, and enjoy the time spent with your friends and family. 

Watch the Lane's Beginners Guide to Ribs Video


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