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Rack of 3-2-1- ribs on a black cutting board.
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5 from 3 votes

3-2-1- Ribs

Utilizing the popular 3-2-1 method, ribs are coated in BBQ rub and sauce and smoked until they're fall-off-the-bone tender.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ Recipes, Beef Recipes, Rib Recipes, Smoker Recipes
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 1518kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $15


  • 1 Rack Pork Spare Ribs
  • ¼ cup BBQ Rub
  • 1 cup Apple Juice (*Note 1)
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar (*Note 2)
  • 2 tbsp Butter, Cut Into Two Pieces
  • 1 cup BBQ Sauce



  • Set up the smoker/grill for indirect cooking and pre-heat to 225°F.


  • Remove the silver membrane from the back of the ribs. Generously apply the BBQ rub to both sides of the ribs. (OPTIONAL) Let sit in the refrigerator, uncovered for an hour so the spices penetrate the meat.


  • Transfer the ribs to the grill rack, bone side down, and smoke for three hours. (OPTIONAL) Spritz with apple juice every 30 minutes or so to add extra moisture.


  • Remove the ribs from the grill and place bone side down on a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. It will need to be about 3x the length of the ribs.
  • Add the apple juice, brown sugar and butter (to the top of the ribs) and crimp the aluminum foil around the ribs to create an airtight seal. If the foil has a hole, the hot air will escape and it will take much longer to cook.
  • Cook, bone side down, for two hours.
  • Gently remove the foil packet from the grill and, using gloves, remove the foil. There will be hot liquid, so don't burn yourself!


  • Evenly coat the ribs with the barbecue sauce. Transfer back to the grill and smoke for one hour, or until the final temp is between 180°F-190°F.


Note 1 - Don't have apple juice? You can use apple cider or beef broth instead.
Note 2 - You can omit the extra sugar if the BBQ dry rub you use already has a ton in it. 


Calories: 1518kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 72g | Fat: 109g | Saturated Fat: 37g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 39g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 367mg | Sodium: 2076mg | Potassium: 1203mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 234IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 4mg