So I have been trying to perfect ribs for a while.  I am always on the lookout for new techniques or tools to make the perfect competition rib.  Well I went back to basics and scored with an amazing rib.  The key was a nice rub and a finely tuned barbecue smoker.  The final ribs were perfectly cooked with a nice flavor.  FYI – Fall off the bone ribs are not perfectly cooked ribs.  You want a rib that has a good bite but gives away from the bone cleanly.  When you bite into the rib, you should be left with a half moon bite mark.  You don’t want all of the meat to fall off.  If the meat falls off, the rib is overcooked.

Ribs Ribs and More Ribs

I served these up Memorial Day Weekend to Dana and her friend Kristy.  Needless to say, they did not last long.

Rib Rub

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 1 tbs dry mustard
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne

I started with a nice set of Spare ribs.  I trimmed them to a St. Louis cut so that they are nice and uniform.  Just like in competition, you want your ribs to cook evenly.  Plus, you want them to be pretty.

Once you have your ribs trimmed you need to rub them. I have been working on a nice smokey, spicy and sweet rub. Let me know what you guys think. It is pretty darn tasty.  Just combine all of the ingredients.  Store any extra in an airtight container.  Stored tightly, it should last about a year.

Coat the front and back of the ribs.  Let them set for about 20-30 minutes so that they get to room temperature.

Rub the Ribs

While your ribs are warming up it is time to start your smoker and get it to about 225-250 degree heat.  Once you have the heat set, add a little wood to get the smoke going.  I like to use oak along with a fruity wood, such as apple or cherry for smoking pork. I find that it gives the best flavor. For a quick guide on starting your smoker click here.

Once you have your fire going, place the ribs bone side up onto the grates and cook for 3-3.5 hours.  I find that by placing the ribs bone side up the juices collect in the natural curve of the ribs.  This gives a moister rib.

Place bone side up

You will be able to determine the doneness of the meat by checking the edges for protruding bone. Also you can pick up the ribs from one end to see the bend. If the meat starts to tear at about a 90 degree angle you have some perfectly cooked ribs.

Once they are cooked you can glaze them with sauce or serve them dry with sauce on the side. I like my ribs glazed with sauce. To do this remove the ribs from the grill and start a fire in the main compartment of the cooker. To properly glaze the ribs you need direct heat. Once you have the fire going in the main compartment allow the grates to heat up and then place the ribs bone side down over the heat. Sauce the top with your favorite barbecue sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes. The sauce is sweet so it carmelizes very quickly. Flip the ribs and sauce the bottom. Grill for 2-3 minutes more. Then flip one last time, sauce the top and close the lid. Wait 2 more minutes and remove from the grill and wrap in aluminum foil as you bring them to the table.

All sauced up

This seems short, but ribs are really easy to cook.  Once you cook them a time or two you will start to be able to look at the ribs to tell if they are done.

The new rib rub was a hit.  I like mine a tad bit spicier, but the ladies loved it.  You can adjust the heat by adding and subtracting cayenne.  Let me know what you guys think.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Hey Rex! Thanks again for the sauce! Haven’t been able to try it with food yet, but they both have a good, deep, smokey flavor. Those ribs look amazing by the way. Hope you have a good week!

    • Why yes it is a Scimitar knife in the video. Picked up a butchers set a couple months ago. These knives are sharp and awesome!! The only way to trim meat.

  2. Hey Rex,

    Fantastic recepie, over in the UK we are just starting to get more sun as the summer sets in and my BBQ is now out of the shed and I’m yurning to try this now.

    Roll on summer!!

  3. I tried this rib rub and it was absolutely delicious. Now I have purchased a smoker grill from walmart and now awaiting its arrival to throw some ribs on again.

    Thanks for the recipe rex as well as the tips!

  4. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thanks a lot

  5. i have tried the same recipe withouy dry mustard and omitted the paprika (reg). I have won the rib cook off with my friends 3 years in a row with almost the same recipe but always felt something was missing from my rub…my dad suggested i use smoked paprika….i will use that this weekend, along with the mustard…i may also try some cumin…will let u know how it goes…

    • L-train, I find that the paprika gives you that glossy red look that people love, remember you eat with your eyes first. Also the mustard adds a bit of tangy bite to the rub. Hope it goes well for you.

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