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3 2 1 ribs on a carving board after smoking
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Easy 3-2-1 Ribs

These 3 2 1 Ribs are extra-tender with the meat literally sliding off the bone! This popular method has three stages of smoking and is perfect for a backyard BBQ using baby back ribs or spare ribs.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 10 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 3 2 1 baby back ribs, 3-2-1 ribs
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 406kcal
Author: TipBuzz


  • 2 racks baby back ribs or spare ribs (3-4 lb)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder or granulated garlic/minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder optional
  • 1-2 teaspoons coarse salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper freshly ground
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce


  • Preheat your smoker for indirect smoking with a temperature of 225°F.
  • Pat dry the ribs with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Next, remove the membrane from the underside by slide a knife tip beneath to separate it from the meat. Then grasp with paper towel and pull it off. (You may need to do it in multiple pieces.)
  • In a small bowl, mix the paprika, garlic powder, mustard, salt, pepper and brown sugar.
  • Rub the ribs on all sides with the seasoning mixture. Then place them bone side down in the smoker to smoke for 3 hours.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker. Place each rack on a large piece of aluminum foil. Pour about 1/2 cup of cider vinegar around each rack. Then carefully wrap the ribs as tight as possible without puncturing the foil.
  • Using oven mitts, carefully place the wrapped ribs back into the smoker for 2 hours more. (During this time the vinegar will steam the ribs and make the bones protrude about a half-inch.)
  • Remove the ribs to a work surface and unwrap. Brush with the leftover liquid (if any) followed by the BBQ sauce.
  • Place the ribs back into the smoker for a final hour, or until the sauce has set, about 1 hour (see note).
  • Remove the ribs and cut into pieces to serve.


  • To check doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest section. While the safe temp for pork is 145°F, the ribs will be most tender around 190°F once the collagen has melted.
  • Oven Method: Bake in the oven at 225°F following the instructions above, with convection/forced air on if available. Add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke to the BBQ sauce.


Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 761mg | Potassium: 462mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 413IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg