Ribs – Dry Rub Recipe

First you have to decide what kind of ribs you are going to make – beef or pork. I am a pork fan, but don’t tell my kosher friends. 😉 When you get the ribs there is a thin membrane on the back of the ribs. Tear it off. You tear it off by taking a butter knife on an edge and work of a tab. Pinch the tab with your thumb and the butter knife and pull. I find this process is easier if the ribs are cold instead of room temperature. If you buy baby-back ribs than it MIGHT have been removed, but I found it is not as often as it is.

As far as letting the dry rub soak, no less than 4 hours but no more than 12 hours. Also, if you are smoking with indirect heat my general philosophy is 2-3 hours of smoke time with hickory and when you think it has been smoked enough cover in foil so that you don’t over smoke or the flavor becomes acrid.

Also, I like St Louis style ribs, because they have more meat on them. They don’t look as pretty as baby-back ribs but baby-back ribs are trimmed from these ribs so it isn’t a better cut. Baby-back ribs just looks nicer so people pay more for them. But ribs need their fat and baby-backs just don’t have as much fat to flavor and tenderize.


  • 1 Part Kosher Salt
  • 1 Part Fresh Cracked Coarse Black Pepper (make it one of your first layers because it burns so close to the flesh is best)
  • 1 Part Paprika or Cajun Seasoning or White Pepper (typically I go with Paprika) if you really want to experiment try curry.
  • 1 Part Red Pepper or Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 Parts Dry Chopped Onions
  • 1 Part Dill
  • 1 Part Granulated Garlic
  • 2 Parts Basil
  • 2 Parts Parsley

You can either mix the rub together prior to placing on ribs or place each one individually on the ribs. I am a fan of the latter rather than the former for two reasons – salt and pepper. No, I’m not talking about the 80’s rap group. I put salt on first. Let it sit for a few minutes before continuing and you’ll find it begins to form a film on the meat almost like a protective gel. Then I put on the pepper so it is protected from any chance of getting singed or burnt, which ruins pepper.  After that you put on the rest of the seasonings before the herbs because the herbs form a nice outside layer sealing everything inside its protective film. I think of it as a nicer version of the Death Star’s force field – and it has the added bonus of you getting to eat it ultimately. You want to press the rub into the meat until it sticks – including herbs – then rap tightly in Saran wrap for resting period in fridge.

When it comes to grilling – just so we are all on the same page – ribs are cooked indirectly through smoke, not direct heat with flame. The reason comes down to the type of fat in the ribs. Cook the ribs at too high of a temperature and you will harden the fat and dry out the meat making it like a biteful of cardboard high in protein. Yuck! In the grilling, I am of the opinion that you don’t smoke ribs over 200 degrees. You want the ribs to get to 180 degrees, but the collagen that makes up the fat turns tough if heated too quickly, but acts as a tenderizer if heated slowly. I am of a smaller camp on this because your ribs will probably have to smoke for another two hours due to this. At 200 degrees, flipping every half hour you are looking at at least six hours. The good news is low heat practically makes it impossible to overcook or dry out your meat when smoking. I only use hickory wood to smoke, but by all means please sample your options. The choice of wood impacts the flavor of your food as much as yeast choice impacts the flavor of the beer that you drink. For those who don’t know by personal experience that means it is an atomic bomb of an influence on the flavor. So, are we jiving now? Hope so.

As I smoke the ribs I coat them with an apple vinegar or cranberry juice & olive oil mixture. 2 parts to 1 part respectively. Coat every half hour as I flip and turn 180 degrees. Now this step is super controversial in rib circles and by just reading that last sentence you are so now being monitored by Big Brother and Conspiracy Theorists alike. The issue is the collagen. If you place the fatty part of the rib up and leave it alone as the collagen melts it will continue to saturate (and moisturize) the meat below. But if you flip it over then it just drips to a bottomless pit never realizing its potential. It is so sad, like a modern day Greek tragedy.  Don’t know about those then ask my honey (wife) whose started the day we got married. But back to the ribs. I just can’t help but play with my food so I compensate the intrinsic need which ruins the value of collagen by lacing it with cranberry juice and olive oil. Make your decision wisely (this note will self-destruct in five secon…BANG!).

When I wrap into aluminum foil to finish cooking sometimes I slip a few ounces of beer/juice-oil combo/nothing into the foil with the ribs. If you are having a hard time with temp or running out of fuel you can take the ribs into the oven set at a low temp at this point to finish the cooking.

Remember to soak your wood for maximum smoking effect. I think that is it. Let me know if you have any questions and I’d love to hear how it goes.

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