St. Louis spareribs are bigger and meatier than their baby back cousins. They are easy to make using the 3-2-1 method and are a real crowd pleaser. Consider making these at your next BBQ.
For many years, baby back ribs were my go to if someone asked me to make ribs. Well, I now have a new favorite, St. Louis spareribs. They are bigger than baby back ribs and seem to have a lot more meat on them. Some people say they are not as tender as baby back ribs, but I beg to differ. If you cook them low and slow using the 3-2-1 method, you will be rewarded with some absolutely tender and delicious finger licking ribs. Give these a try.
The Dry Rub
Ribs need a good dry rub that adds flavor. I prefer a Kansas City style dry rub that is excellent on a pork shoulder, baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs and much more. This recipe is my adaptation of a recipe by Steve Raichlen in his book, Barbecue Bible Sauces Rubs and Marinades, Bastes, Butters and Glazes. The title is a mouthful but the book is full of great stuff. Steve, in turn, was given the recipe by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. I have modified it for my tastes.
This recipe makes a lot of extra dry rub. Keep it in an airtight container in your pantry for up to 3 months.
Trim the Ribs
St. Louis spareribs need a little more tender loving care than baby back ribs do. First, there is the membrane on the back. Pit masters are split on whether to remove it or not. I prefer to take it off because I think it is a barrier to flavor coming from both the dry rub and the smoke. Next, there is typically a flap of meat on the back side of St. Louis spareribs that is about 8″ long and about 3″ wide. That flap will just dry out in the smoker so remove it.
Finally, most racks of St. Louis spareribs has a small bone at the narrow end that should also be trimmed off. The meat surrounding that bone is very thin and will dry up in the smoker. Cut off the last bone and discard.
The 3-2-1 Method
The 3-2-1 method is my preferred method for making all types of ribs. It involves three easy steps. Step 1: The ribs are smoked ribs low and slow for 3 hours at 225˚F. There is no need to let them warm up, just take them from the refrigerator and put them in the smoker. If you cooking multiple racks, make sure that you have good airflow around all sides of the ribs. If you are using an offset smoker, like I did in the video, place the pan of water near the firebox and place the ribs in the middle of the smoker.
Step 2: The ribs are wrapped up in wide heavy duty foil that is made into a bit of a tent. The idea is to keep the top of the foil and inch or so above the ribs. Add about 6 ounces of liquid and seal the foil pouch. I have used everything from water, to apple cider to some beer that I didn’t care for enough to drink. The pouches go back in the smoker for 2 hours at 225˚F. Carefully cut a slit in the bottom of each pouch and drain the hot liquid into the pan. Be careful, there will be a lot of liquid and it will be very hot.
Step 3: Place each rack back in the smoker and brush both sides with your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook for one more hour. Add additional sauce every 15 minutes.
Other Great BBQ Recipes to Try
- Smoked Dino Bones with Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Texas Hot Links
- Smoked Brisket & Burnt Ends
- Smoked Hot Wings
- Homemade Canadian Bacon
- Easy Pork Recipes
Watch How to Make St. Louis Spareribs on YouTube
St. Louis Spareribs
- 1 Smoker
- 1 Spray Bottle
- 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup seasoned salt like Lawry’s
- 1/4 cup smoked salt
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 1/4 cup celery salt
- 2 tbls black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tbls chili powder
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 racks St. Louis Pork Spareribs
- 2 cups apple juice
- 2 cups water cold
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse several times to combine. Cover and store for up to two months away from light and heat.
- Use a paring knife to lift and peel the tough membrane on the back of the ribs. Cut away flap of meat sometimes found on the back of the ribs.
- Find the last little rib bone and remove it along with the thin meat attached to it. It will just burn up in the BBQ.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the prepared rub to each side of each sparerib rack. Rub it in and place the ribs in a large non-reactive container and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours.
- Setup your smoker for indirect heat at 225˚F. Place a pan of water in the smoker. Mix the apple juice and water together and place one half of the mixture in a spray bottle and set aside. Reserve the other half. Smoke the ribs for 3 hours spraying them with the apple juice water mixture every 30 minutes.
- After 3 hours, remove the ribs and place each rack on two large pieces of heavy duty foil. Use two pieces in case of a tear. Fold the long sides up and together then fold them to form a good seal. Seal one end of the foil pouch. Pour about 6 oz of the apple juice and water mixture into the other end and fold to seal. Place each pouch back on the smoker for two hours.
- After 2 hours, place each pouch in a large pan, like a lasagna tray. Carefully cut a slit in the bottom of the pouch and drain the hot liquid into the pan. Be careful, there will be a lot of liquid and it will be very hot. Repeat with the other pouches. Place each rack back in the smoker and carefully brush both sides with your favorite BBQ sauce. Add additional sauce 2-3 times over the hour.
- Serve with additional sauce.