2-2-1 Smoked Baby Back Ribs

I’m a huge fan of spareribs trimmed St. Louis-style and smoked low-and-slow. I have to admit, my favorite part are the rib tips that come from trimming the spareribs. And that’s why, until recently, I haven’t really smoked a lot of baby back ribs, which have less fat and no tips. Well, now I cannot stop making them. This is my go-to method for making the most tender, juicy, flavor-packed baby back ribs in around 5 hours. They’re truly easy to make and are about as fool-proof as you can get, and you get the same results time after time.
2-2-1 Smoked Baby Back RibsDon’t be afraid of the mustard on these smoked baby back ribs. It’s there to help the seasoning adhere to the ribs. Trust me, you won’t taste it a bit when the ribs are done.

So why are they called 2-2-1 ribs? Because you smoke them uncovered for 2 hours, then smoke them wrapped in foil for another 2 hours, and finally finish them off uncovered for another hour. Now, depending on the size of the ribs and the temperature of your smoker, they might be done a bit earlier or later, but a minute here or there won’t make a big difference. Just make sure they’re nice and tender before removing from the foil.

If you prefer spareribs, check out my technique for making 3-2-1 smoked St. Louis-style ribs. Need a great homemade sauce? Here are just a few of the ones I’ve made and love: smokehouse, southwestern, atomic, Sriracha and sweet-n-spicy.

2-2-1 Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 10 minutes
Servings 1 rack
Author Mike


  • 1 rack baby back ribs any loose meat removed, membrane on back removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • Prepared yellow mustard generic is fine
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • Honey
  • Chili sauce
  • Margarine the kind in a squeeze bottle works best
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce


  • Fire up your smoker for 225 F. Use a medium or light wood. I prefer hickory, cherry, apple, peach or maple.
  • Spread a thin layer of mustard on both sides of the ribs. Dust lightly with the rub.
  • Smoke for 2 hours, bone-side down.
  • Lay out a large piece of thick foil (double it if using thin foil). In center of the foil squeeze out a thin line of honey, a few teaspoons of chili sauce, and a line of margarine.
  • Place the ribs bone-side down onto the center of the foil.
  • Squeeze out another line of honey, a few teaspoons of chili sauce, and some more margarine along the meat side of the ribs. No need to spread out the ingredients.
  • Seal the foil tightly and return to the smoker for 1 hour or until you can easily slide a toothpick between the ribs.
  • Carefully open the foil (the escaping steam will burn!) and remove the ribs, placing them directly on the smoker grates. Reserve the basting juices and brush them onto the ribs.
  • Smoke another 30 minutes, brushing with the basting juices every 10 minutes.
  • Now, brush the ribs the BBQ sauce and smoke another 30 minutes or until the sauce is set as you desire.
  • Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.



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