2-1-1 Baby Back Ribs

2-1-1 Baby Back Ribs

2-1-1 Baby Back Ribs 15

People often ask me which are my favorite ribs. First let me say that I love all ribs and picking a favorite is almost like picking your favorite offspring. But if I was forced to choose just one, I’d have go with baby backs. Taken from the area along the sides of the pig’s spine, they are more tender and a little leaner than spare ribs that come from down near the belly. And there’s nothing better than putting a great cook on a rack of baby back ribs.

Most people are familiar with the now somewhat cliché 3-2-1- method of cooking spare ribs. The name comes from the times of smoking ribs for 2 hours, then wrapping in foil with some liquid for 2 hours, and then finishing them off for 1 more hour unwrapped. Most people will alter it to 2-2-1 for baby backs.

I’ve found that while this method will certainly give you tender ribs; it leaves quite a bit to be desired. The tendency of the meat to become a little mushy and not unlike boiled ribs is the biggest flaw in my book.

In this recipe, I’m going to share my fool proof method of smoking ribs to perfection. So let’s get to it.

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Start by trimming any extra fat and removing the papery membrane from the bone side of the ribs. I usually use a butter knife to get it started and then pull it off. If you find the membrane a little too slippery to get a good grip on, try using a paper towel.

Here it is with the membrane removed.

Apply your favorite rub to both sides of the ribs an hour or two before you are going to cook them. It’ll take a couple of tablespoons of rub to each side to get an even light dusting. The mix of my go to rub is listed below in the recipe card.  

 With the rub applied, keep the ribs in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Fire up your smoker and set to 250° F. You could also use a grill set up for indirect heat with the addition of wood chips for smoke. Smoke with bone side down for 2 hours.

After the initial 2 hours, the next 1-hour stage is for tenderizing. You can wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and add about ¼ cup of apple juice or your favorite beer, or if you want a better bark on them at the end, use some of this pink butcher paper instead of the foil.  

Wrap it up like a birthday present and return to the smoker for another hour.  

Remove the butcher paper and we’re on the home stretch.  

After about 30 minutes, check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. Paint the outside with your favorite rib glaze at around 175° and they’ll be done once they reach 195°.   

2-1-1- Baby Back Ribs

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5 from 3 votes

2-1-1 Baby Back Ribs

A fool proof method of smoking baby back ribs to perfection.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, BBQ, Southern
Keyword: baby back ribs, pork ribs
Servings: 2


  • 1 rack Baby Back Pork Ribs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup rib glaze


  • Remove membrane from ribs and lightly coat with rib rub an hour or two before smoking.
  • Smoke at 250° for 2 hours.
  • Wrap with pink butcher paper and smoke for 1 hour.
  • Continue smoking, unwrapped for an additional hour, or until internal temperature reaches 195°. Apply multiple coats of rib glaze approximately 30 minutes before done.  
  • Rest for 15 minutes at room temperature before slicing.

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