How Long Does It Take to Smoke Ribs?

Smoked ribs in the smoker grill

How Long Should It Take and What is the Ideal Temperature for Smoking Ribs?

You might have tasted deliciously soft and moisty smoked ribs in one of your favorite restaurants, and you would like to replicate at home the taste and flavor of these mouthwatering smoked ribs. Yet, you are a beginner, so you are at a loss about how to do it. Of course, when it comes to cooking ribs, the use of a smoker will be best, though you can also use your grill and turn it into an indirect smoker for lengthy smoking of ribs.

Aside from using the right dry rub and wood for smoking ribs, you should also know how long it would take to smoke ribs completely and the required temperature for smoking. Undercooking ribs will lead to tough and chewy meat that would not melt in your mouth. Overcooked ribs, however, would be disgusting to eat because it is mushy. So, it is crucial you know the correct time and the required temperature to produce mouthwatering smoked ribs.

Average Temperature for Smoking Ribs

As you gather various BBQ recipes, you will discover that the ideal temperature for smoking ribs ranges between 250°F to 255°F. It will take around 4 hours to cook baby back ribs at this temperature range, while it will take four hours to cook St. Louis-cut ribs at this temperature range. It doesn’t matter whether you are smoking a half-rack or many racks, for you need to cook them for the same duration if the racks are on the same layer within your grill. 

It will be best to position ribs meat side up in your oven or on the grill. Moreover, you can figure out if the ribs’ meat is already done if the meat has already shrunk back from the bone’s end, exposing the bone. Besides, if the meat’s internal temperature has already reached 190°F, then it is already done. The only thing that varies when you are smoking ribs is time.

How Long Would You Smoke Baby Back Ribs on Your Gas Grill?

Smoking baby back ribs using the gas grill takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes. It will be best to preheat your gas grill to 300°F. Once you’ve achieved this temperature, you can reduce the heat by turning off one burner and reducing heat on another burner to medium-high or medium heat. 

Afterward, you can position the ribs on the grate over the turned-off burner. Then, close the lid and let the ribs cook for three hours until they become tender. You can use barbecue sauce and brush the ribs several times every ten minutes during the last thirty minutes of your cooking.

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How Long Would It Take to Smoke Baby Back Ribs Using Smoker?

The time it would take to smoke ribs in a smoker is about five hours. It will be best to follow the hourly schedule that most smokers follow. This hourly schedule is the 2-2-1 schedule. Of course, you need to preheat the smoker at 225°F. During the smoking process, however, you should maintain the temperature within the 225°F to 250°F range. 

Place the ribs on the grate and let it cook for two hours. Afterward, you can take the racks off the smoker and wrap the racks in foil. Later, put back the rack into the smoker to let the ribs cook for two hours with the smoker’s lid tightly shut. Then, carefully remove the foil after two hours and place the ribs back into the grate. Apply several coats of sauce every fifteen minutes of the last hour.

How Long Should You Cook Baby Back Ribs in Your Oven?

If you plan to cook baby back ribs in your oven, it will be good to note that it may take you three hours to cook the baby back ribs thoroughly. First, you need to preheat the oven to around 250°F. Then, wrap the ribs in foil and set them in the rack on the cookie sheet. You can cook the dry-spiced ribs for two hours and thirty minutes until they become tender. 

Afterward, you can remove the ribs from your oven and set the temperature to 350°F. Then, unwrap the foil and brush your preferred barbecue sauce onto the ribs. Put the rack back onto the oven and let it cook for forty minutes, applying additional coats of sauce every ten minutes.

How Long Would You Smoke Baby Back Ribs on a Charcoal Grill?

If you cook baby back ribs on your charcoal grill, it can take you three hours to cook the ribs. First, you need to configure the grill to allow indirect grilling over low heat of around 300F. Once you see that the coals are blazing red, push the coals to one side. Then, position a drip pan in the grill’s center. 

Using wood chips, you can directly spread one cup over the coals. Then, put back the top grate. Afterward, you can arrange in the grate’s center the ribs. Then, let the lid down and cook for 3 hours until the ribs become tender. 

Add more charcoal as needed to keep a steady temperature. You can add ten new coals every 45 minutes. Apply several coats of BBQ sauce every ten minutes onto the ribs.

At 350°F, How Long Would It Take to Smoke Ribs?

If you smoke a three-pound baby back ribs rack, it may take you five hours to thoroughly cook the ribs. Of course, the time frame for smoking ribs here is for baby back ribs. But if you intend to cook substitute spareribs, you may end up thoroughly cooking them within six to eight hours. Moreover, you need to factor in the weight and size of the ribs. 

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At 275°F, How long would it take to smoke ribs?

If your temperature is 275°F, you may need five hours of cooking time. Increasing the temperature may enable you to decrease the cooking time. If you would use a similar technique as the one you have used for the baby back ribs, you can plan for three to four hours of cooking. It will be good to note that the larger the ribs, the longer it will take you to cook the ribs.

How Would You Know If the Ribs are Done?

There are a couple of ways to figure out if the ribs are done and ready for devouring. Here is a rundown of some methods you can use to figure out if the ribs are done:

Check the Time

If you are not sure when to remove the ribs from the grill or smoker, you can just trust the method mentioned above—the 3-2-1 method. If you engage in slow cooking for side or spareribs, it may take you five to seven hours to thoroughly cook the ribs. 

Of course, you must factor in the other variables like the thickness of the bone and meat and outdoor temperature. But you can always trust the method and rely on time.

Try the Toothpick Test

The toothpick test is similar to the way you would check if a cake is done. You simply need to stick a toothpick onto the meat right between the bones. If the toothpick gets in, sans any resistance, then the ribs are ready for taking. You should do the test in the thickest parts of the rib’s center.

Try also the Bending Test

You can pick up the ribs using barbecue gloves or tongs. Then, try to bend them or bounce them gently to figure out if there would be cracks in the meat’s surface right between ribs’ bones. If the bones almost break in the middle, then the ribs are almost ready. If you see only a minimal and shallow crack, then let it cook more for a while. 

Skewer Test

You can utilize a wooden skewer or even a toothpick to test the ribs. As in the toothpick test, you can press the meat between bones, and if the meat doesn’t show any resistance, the ribs are almost ready for the taking.

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Best Practice When Smoking Ribs?

Experts and smoking aficionados sometimes engage in a debate about the best temperature to smoke ribs. Some would say it is better to go a bit higher to sear the ribs, while others maintain that going lower allows you to hammer out the best texture. 

Of course, if you go higher, you can cook quicker, but the meat may tighten and dry out quickly. The heat may also burn the rubs or sauces that you brush onto the ribs. Going higher necessitates a higher skill to achieve the best results. 

On the other hand, if you go lower, you will add more time to your cooking, and this long cooking time may exact more from your reserve of patience. Moreover, the fire may begin to churn in dirty smoke because your fire would start to get less oxygen. 

So, it will be good to note that it is a challenge to maintain clean fire using low temperatures for the duration of cooking. Thus, it requires skill likewise to balance between time and temperature. Thus, most smokers dial into the recommended range of 225 to 250F for optimum results.


The preparation process is as important as the cooking process when smoking ribs. You need to prepare the ribs by removing the shiny and thin membrane on the bone side at the back of the ribs to make the meat tender. Moreover, you need to dry-rub your mixture of dry spices, salt, and sugar onto the ribs to add flavor to the meat. You must rub this dry rub on every part of the ribs for at least one hour before cooking. Then, you can follow the simple tips on how to smoke ribs using your preferred heat source. 

The abovementioned tips will surely help you achieve thoroughly cooked ribs. So, be mindful of the recommended temperature range and the recommended duration of time to ensure that you will get the optimum result that you desire.

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