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Smoked Baby Back Ribs

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  • Smoked Baby Back Ribs on a table with drink.

    I had never had ribs before coming to the US, but totally fell in love with them after I had my first ribs at Everett and Jones Barbeque in Oakland, California back in my college days. Since then I’ve tried ribs at many restaurants to find the best smoked ribs but none of them satisfied me. It wasn’t until 5 years ago when my friend John bought a new smoker and invited us over for dinner one night and made these amazing Smoked Baby Back Ribs.


    John Hsieh

    Since that day, I’ve been a big fan of his smoked ribs and I have indulged myself with these delicious ribs on many occasions. Recently when he invited us and other friends for dinner one night, I had to ask if he could share his recipe, and he kindly agreed to be my first non-blogger guest.

    So everyone, please meet my dear friend, John. He’s one of my husband’s best friends since  elementary school and they had gone to the same schools all the way through college. Even after graduating from college, both of them continued to live in the same area and often hang out together. The only difference now is that both of them are married with two children. John’s wife is now my close friend, and their children are our children’s friends – basically his family is like our extended family.

    Smoked Baby Back Ribs on a plate.

    The day of his dinner party, I sent my husband to John’s house at eight in the morning to take pictures of step-by-step tutorials before the smoking was in process (it takes hours to prepare). I was actually surprised how much time and effort is required to make these ribs. If you look at the Notes section in the recipe, you will see where John got this original recipe from. You can also tell why this is simply the best of best ribs recipes based on the accolades its won over the years.

    Smoked Baby Back Ribs on a plate.

    I have been dreaming of getting our own smoker so that we can smoke our own ribs, and now that John’s recipe has been revealed I asked my husband if we can buy a smoker so that I can finally enjoy these ribs every month. Unexpectedly his answer was no, and he said it’s because these ribs are John’s signature dish. That’s really true. John’s smoked ribs have been my favorite of all the places I’ve tried. He knows how much I love these ribs because I can’t stop saying how delicious these are every time I eat it. So John, we’ll continue to be over at your house whenever you make these amazing ribs!

    If you are like us and don’t own a smoker, today’s recipe may not be useful, but I hope you enjoy reading on how the best smoked baby back ribs are prepared. Thanks John for teaching us how to make ribs, and I look forward to your next invitation! 😉

    Smoked Baby Back Ribs on a plate.

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    5 from 1 vote
    Smoked Baby Back Ribs | Just One Cookbook
    Smoked Baby Back Ribs
    Prep Time
    1 hr
    Cook Time
    5 hrs
    Total Time
    6 hrs
    Amazing Smoked Baby Back Ribs! The smokiness from the charcoal added another layer of flavor to the dish. 
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: bbq, ribs
    Servings: 12
    Author: Nami
    • 6 Pork baby back ribs slabs (2 lbs per slab)
    • KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce
    • Honey
    Dry rub:
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    • cup brown sugar
    • 4 tsp chili powder
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp Accent (optional)
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp garlic (granulated)
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Smoked Baby Back Ribs Ingredients
    2. Trim excess fat and extra meat so the rib thickness is even throughout.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 1
    3. Place slabs of ribs inside a roasting pan.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 2
    4. Mix dry rub ingredients together thoroughly.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 3
    5. Generously sprinkle a layer over the ribs.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 4
    6. Allow the marinated ribs to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. The salt in the rub draws moisture from the meat, forming a red ruby liquid covering the surface (see below).
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 5
    7. After applying the dry rub, you can start preparing the smoker because it takes a while for the smoker to sustain consistent temperature. The directions below is for a water pan smoker and specifically the Web “Smokey Mountain Cooker”. If you have a different smoker the end result might not turn out the same, adapt cooking time and method based on your manufacture’s direction.
    8. John made a few changes to the original recipe to make the smoking process easier. First he bought a larger water pan so he doesn’t have to refill water while smoking, and two, cover up the pan with aluminum foil so the cleaning will be a breeze. If you use the standard water pan make sure it stays filled during the smoking process. If you refill with cold water it could affect the smoker temperature so try to use hot water.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 6
    9. This recipe requires 12-15 pound of charcoal. Light up charcoal in a chimney starter (do not use charcoals pre-soaked in lighter fluid). For direction on how to use a chimney starter, view the video here.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 7
    10. After the charcoal burns for about 15 minutes, pour into smoker.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 8
    11. Immediately add another chimney of "unlit" charcoal on top.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 9
    12. Place the wood chunk on top of the charcoal.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 10
    13. When the smoke wood starts catching on fire, assemble the cooker. Put the water pan in place and fill it with cool tap water. Close all three bottom vents, but set the top vent fully open and leave it that way during the entire cooking process.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 11
    14. Allow the smoker to sit for about an hour before adding the ribs to the cooker. It’s not required but it is much easier to smoke with a rib rack.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 12
    15. When the temperature is stable at 225°F, add rib to smoker. Do not add rib before the temperature is consistent.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 13
    16. After three hours, open the cooker for the first time and turn the ribs over.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 14
    17. Replace the lid and open the bottom vents to increase the cooker temperature to 250-275°F. Check if the meat is done after 1 more hour and every 30 minutes thereafter. The ribs will be done when they have a nice, brown color and the meat passes the “tear test.” Tear test - Take hold of two adjacent bones toward the middle of the slab and give them a pull. If the meat offers a bit of resistance but then tears easily, you know the ribs are done just right.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 15
    18. Sauce the ribs on both sides with a mixture of 5 parts KC Masterpiece Original Flavor barbecue sauce to 1 part honey. Serve immediately.
      Smoked Baby Back Ribs 16
    Recipe Notes

    Slightly adapted from Virtual Webber originally from Mike Scrutchfield's recipe and cooking procedure, which won the prestigious title "Best Ribs in the Universe" aka BRITU at the 1996 American Royal Invitational, the 1993 American Royal Open Bar-B-Que contest as the “Overall Grand Champion”, and "Reserve Grand Champion" at the 1994 American Royal Open.


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