Applewood-Smoked St. Louis Ribs!

Custom recipe and techniques for the best ribs you could imagine!

For these ribs you’ll need:

  • A smoker (I use a 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker)
  • A grill (optional)
  • Applewood chips or chunks
  • Kingford (or other brand) charcoal briquettes
  • Chimney fire starter, and fire-starter cubes for ease of getting the coals started.
  • Kitchen timer, or a timer on your phone– your best friend here!
  • I suggest using this thermometer to monitor your smoker temperature. It’s a great investment if you BBQ often.
  • At least a full-rack of ribs, baby-back or St. Louis. I used St. Louis ribs here because when trimming you get the very tasty rib tips! No one complains about extra ribs…
  • Rub, store-bought or homemade (see recipe for great homemade rub here)
  • Foil
  • Apple juice, I prefer the kind in kids lunch boxes because they’re easy to use and throw away, but also quite good.
  • Agave syrup
  • Brown sugar

When smoking anything in the backyard, the majority of your time is spent prepping and monitoring heat. Traeger grills ( have great smokers that keep the temperature consistent, while the Weber’s have more of a learning curve with maintaining proper heat, airflow, and temperature. Pro Tip: After seasoning your ribs, do all your prep work while your ribs are resting for about an hour. Time management is key here!

Step by Step for Amazing Ribs:

  1. Take out your ribs to season them. First, let’s trim. For St.Louis ribs, you want to cut off the rib tips to create a nice rectangular rack of ribs. The tips will cook nicely and will be a good appetizer. Next, take a butter knife to slide under the silver skin backing to remove it. Now, you want the rub to cover the ribs thoroughly with a single layer. Don’t overdue it or else you lose the great taste in the pork. Plan to rest for about 45-60 mins.
  2. Use the chimney starter to get a full chimney of coals started. Wait until the starters have fully burned out before removing. The coals should have a layer of ash beginning to form on them.
  3. Prepare the fire base for the smoker:
    • Place about 5 or so Applewood chunks on the bottom and fill in the base about half-way with briquettes. Including the full chimney, you want to use the appropriate amount in your smoker to last 4.5-5 hours.
    • Build a crater for the lit coals to be poured into.
    • Cover smoker and let it build heat for about 30 mins before putting meat on. Bring up to 235-250 degrees, do not exceed 275– this will dry it out FAST.
  4. Prep Work:
    • Get out your latex gloves (optional: great way to keep your hands clean, and food safe from contamination).
    • Cut foil to sheets big enough to wrap your ribs in.
    • Set your thermometer, if using, to help you maintain the temperature to 250 degrees.
  5. Place ribs flat-bone side down on the grate, scatter rib tips and flaps around the grate. Plan for them to smoke for about 2 hours. Resist opening up the lid! Depending on the type of wood you’re using, and the size, you may want to add some wood for smoking about 90 minutes in.
  6. At the 2 hour mark, use your fingernail to lightly scrap the top of the ribs to check the bark formation. The rub should not come off. If bark looks good, spray your ribs with a bit of water to help the bark form and solidify the coveted smoke ring!
  7. Smoke for additional 30 minutes.
  8. At 2.5 hours, take out Ribs and set aside. Using the foil you had already cut out, place each rack on a sheet of foil. Follow these steps:
    • Rub brown sugar on one side of ribs,
    • LIGHTLY drizzle agave across like a horizontal line,
    • shake apple juice onto ribs,
    • flip and repeat.
  9. Double foil the ribs, so it’s not packed tight, but still not leaking juices. Pit them for another 2 hours.
  10. Take off rib tips, cover with BBQ sauce, cover loosely in foil and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  11. At 4.25 hours, heat up grill on high heat.
  12. At 4.5 hours, take out the ribs and do a tong-check: Lift the ribs up with your tongs, gently shake up and down. If the meat starts to crack, then they’re ready.
  13. Get your chosen sauce ready, and put the ribs directly on the grill rack. Using a brush, paint the sauce onto the ribs and close the grill lid for 5-10 minutes to heat up and thicken the sauce on the ribs. This also gives a nice char on the rib edges.
  14. Let it stand for 20-25 minutes before slicing. The pink ring on the inside of the ribs is the coveted smoke ring– a good sign of good smoke penetration. Enjoy!!