3 2 1 Ribs, the easiest fool-proof way to make fantastic ribs! With so many ways to prepare ribs (and so many types of ribs to choose from), it can be a little challenging to find the best method.
As far as achieving the fall off the bone texture and unbelievable, smoky flavor, there is no method that is quite as easy or efficient as smoking the ribs. And to take it a step further, there is no method quite as perfect as the 3-2-1 ribs method.
It might sound a little complicated, but it is a super simple way to smoke ribs and achieve the exact dreamy flavor you think of when you think of ribs. You will enjoy this smoky flavor and tenderness every single time.
The numbers simply represent the various measurements of time to smoke the ribs. The time is measured in hours. Allow me to explain! But first, there are a few small steps that will make the biggest difference in how your ribs turn out.
The Trim and Dry
The first step is to make sure your ribs are trimmed and completely dry. Your butcher can do the trimming for you and the drying is as simple as using a paper towel to dry them off. And of course make sure to discard or disinfect anything that touches raw meat.
After that, you can apply your favorite rub. You can even make your own or add your own little twist to your favorite, premade rub.
If you do not have your own premade rub, no worries. We’ve included the exact ingredients and measurements in the recipe card below.
Whether you want salty, sweet, or a little bit of both, there are so many incredible, premade rubs out there.
Honestly, we think the perfect rub will have a combination of sweet, savory, spicy, and every other element in the flavor spectrum. You can even buy a premade rub and add some extra ingredients to it.
Buying premade rubs certainly make the process less involved and depending on the one you pick; the flavors will vary. If you want to put your own spin on it, the sky is the limit as far as the possibilities go.
Some will go as far as adding mustard on the ribs instead of or before the spreading the rub. It is really all about your personal preference and what sounds good to you.
Once the ribs have been trimmed, dried, and rubbed down, it is time to get them in the smoker (with the bone side down). The first three hours of smoking (You guessed it. That is where the ‘3’ comes from) you will simply place the rubbed-up ribs in the smoker and let them do their thing.
This step is very important, because at this stage, the ribs will begin to absorb the smokiness and starts to cook, which is definitely what you want.
Letting them go for three hours like this will help to achieve that maximum smoky flavor.
Once the 3 2 1 ribs have smoked for three hours, it is time to take them out and get the next step going. You will want to wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and then place them back in the smoker (with the flesh side down) for two more hours.
However, before you seal them up, you will want to add a liquid. The point of step two is to allow the ribs to steam with the liquid in the tightly sealed aluminum foil to get the meat to really loosen off of the bone and get that mega tender, succulent texture.
You can use various combinations of apple cider vinegar, apple juice, honey, maple syrup, butter, agave etc.
Not everyone adds liquid as the ribs will steam on their own, but there is a lot of flavor to be had with these different options. Play around with the ingredients that sound the most delicious to you and give it a try.
Once they have smoked for two hours in their steamy little marinade cocoon, it is time to take them out of the smoker and get them ready for the final step. Take off the aluminum foil and simply put them back in the smoker (circle back to step one and put them bone side down again) for the remaining hour.
It is during this remaining hour, with the ribs being exposed to the smoke, that the outside of the ribs will get that incredible crust. This is also usually the part where a lot of people will add their favorite barbeque sauce to the ribs before putting them back in the smoker.
You can skip that step if you like, but if you do, you should be sure to add some type of liquid to the outside of the ribs to ensure that they do not dry out (apple juice, apple cider vinegar, or some kind of marinade. Water wouldn’t hurt either if you accidentally used all of your other ingredients up. It obviously won’t add any extra flavor).
While this part of the cooking process is supposed to last for an entire hour, you will want to start checking on the ribs periodically to make sure that you don’t accidentally overcook them (it would be a shame to get all the way to this point and overcook them).
You can also reapply the barbeque sauce throughout the remaining hour to get a deliciously tacky finish on the outside of the ribs. This incredible stickiness can be compounded by cranking up the heat a little bit towards the end.
The Final Step
Aside from making sure you have some extra barbeque sauce on the side, all that is left to do now is serve them up and enjoy! I can pretty much guarantee that these will please any crowd.
You will look like the rib king or queen. This cooking method allows a lot of room to experiment with what tastes the best to you.
From the rub to the marinade to the barbeque to the kind of ribs, you can modify every single aspect until the flavor is everything you want it to be. Just stick to the 3 2 1 ribs method and everything else will fall into place. Bon Appetite!
This Smoked Turkey breast will go perfectly with all your usual Thanksgiving side dishes, and can be served in the exact same way you would a roasted turkey breast.
You can also pair with this Salad Niçoise Recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
We recommend cooking the ribs between 225-250 degrees.
You can let the ribs marinate with the rub overnight, but a minimum of 30 minutes at minimum before cooking.
Yes, you can 3 2 1 beef ribs. For this 3 2 1 method, we used beef ribs. The beef was cooked for total of 6 hours; hence 3-2-1 method.
Learning how to smoke beef ribs using the 3 2 1 ribs method on a pellet grill properly will make a difference in the enjoyment of the finished dish. Consider the following tips listed below.
Do not use a roasting pan when smoking your meat. As the meat releases the juice, this will cause the meat to become soggy.
Be sure to check the temperature of the meat, always! White meat takes less time to cook at 185 degrees to 190 degrees.
WHICH PELLETS TO USE
You can use any pellets you’d like. Read the instructions on your Pellet Grill / Smoker to see which pellets are best to use. Our personal favorites are pecan, apple, and maple as they have a sweeter “taste”.
HOW TO STORE
If you happen to have any leftovers, your 3 2 1 ribs can be transformed into delicious smoked beef sandwiches.
SALAD RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH THIS RECIPE
In addition to this smoked beef ribs recipe, here are a few salad choices to enjoy with your ribs.
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3-2-1 Ribs Method
- Smoker / Grill
- 1 Rack Beef Ribs
- ⅓ Cup Light Brown Sugar
- ¼ Cup Smoked Paprika
- 1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
- 2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
- 3 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper Optional
- 1 Tbsp. Ground Mustard
- 2 Cups Apple Juice
- 1 ½ Cup BBQ Sauce
- Clean and wash the ribs thoroughly. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients together with the exception of the apple juice and BBQ sauce.
- Bring the smoker to temperature in accordance with the manufacture’s manual between 225 to 250 degrees for 3 hours.
- Then remove the ribs from the smoker, place it in a double layered aluminum foil (more if needed). Pour the apple juice over the ribs. Cover tightly. Then smoke / cook for 2 hour between 225 – 250 degrees.