Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs That’ll Have You Sayin’ ‘Holy Smokes!’

Juicy, and irresistible, smoked St. Louis-style ribs are the best way to put some south in your mouth! As a barbecue enthusiast and “ribmaster,” believe me when I say these ribs are the real deal. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner looking to up your BBQ game, these ribs will have you saying, “holy smokes!”

In this article, I’ll share my secrets for creating tender, juicy, and flavorful smoked St. Louis-style ribs that will be the star of any barbecue. From choosing the right cut of meat to mastering the art of smoking, I’ll guide you through the process step by step. So, let’s fire up that smoker and get ready to create some seriously delicious ribs!

Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs Recipes

We’re starting with the meat of the matter – preparing those lip-smacking smoked St. Louis style ribs.

Basic Smoked St. Louis Ribs Recipe

When it comes to smoked St. Louis ribs, many recipes can help you create a delicious and flavorful meal. 

For starters, or for anyone who wants something quick and on a low budget, this basic recipe is great.


  • 2 racks of St. Louis-style ribs
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce


  • A barbecue smoker
  • Hickory wood chips
  • Aluminum foil
  • A knife
  • Meat thermometer
Juicy Pork Ribs with Fries and Red Chilies

Step 1: Prepare the Ribs

I always start by preparing the ribs. 

This includes removing the membrane on the bone side. 

Use a good knife to loosen the membrane from the bone. Then use a paper towel to grip the membrane and pull it off. 

This will help your seasoning penetrate the meat better, allowing for a more tender bite.

Step 2: Season the Ribs

In a bowl, add brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. 

Mix the ingredients to create your rib rub. Then, apply the dry rub onto the meaty side of the ribs, making sure to get into all the sides and crevices.

Step 3: Smoke the Ribs

Preheat a gas grill or an electric smoker to at least 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add some hickory smoking chips to the smoker box or directly onto the coals. 

Once your smoker is heated and the chips are smoking, place the ribs bone-side down on the grates. Close the lid and let them smoke for three hours.

Step 4: Wrap the Ribs

After three hours of cooking, remove the ribs from the smoker. 

Then wrap them tightly in a heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Finally, add a splash of apple juice to the foil packet to create a moist environment. 

Now place them back on the smoker and let them smoke for another two hours.

Step 5: Finish with Barbecue Sauce

After two hours of smoking, take the ribs off the smoker and carefully unwrap them from the aluminum foil. 

Brush your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides of the ribs. Then, place them back on the smoker for 30 minutes to allow the sauce to caramelize.

Step 6: Check the Temperature

Check the internal temperature of the ribs using a meat thermometer, preferably an instant-read type.

The ideal temperature for smoked St. Louis style ribs is around 185 to 190 degrees. If they have not yet reached that temperature, let them smoke for an additional 30 minutes and check again. 

Step 7: Let the Ribs Rest

Once the ribs have reached the ideal temperature, remove them from the smoker. Then let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making for a more flavorful and tender bite.

Enjoy your delicious, perfectly smoked St. Louis style ribs! 

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs and Tomatoes

Spicy Smoked St. Louis Ribs Recipe

Spicy smoked pork ribs are one of my favorite recipes. These slow-cooked ribs are juicy, and tender and have a delicious spicy kick to them that will make your taste buds dance. So, let’s get started!


  • 2 racks of St. Louis style ribs
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey


  • Smoker
  • Wood chips (hickory or oak)
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • A sharp knife 
  • Basting brush
  • Meat thermometer

Step 1: Prepare the Pork Ribs

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs and trim off any excess fat with your knife. 

Combine the white sugar, smoked paprika, dried thyme, ground mustard, ground coriander, ground ginger, smoked sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, soy sauce, and molasses to create a dry rib rub. Rub the dry rub all over the ribs, covering both sides.

Step 2: Smoke the Ribs

Preheat your smoker to 225°F and add the chips. Place the ribs in the smoker bone side down and meat side up. Then smoke for three hours, flipping and rotating the ribs halfway through. 

Ensure you’re basting the ribs with the BBQ sauce every 15 minutes

Make sure to keep the temperature of your smoker at 225 during the cooking. 

Step 3: Wrap the Ribs

After three hours, remove them from the smoker and wrap them tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil. 

Before sealing the foil, pour in the apple cider vinegar and honey. Then, place the wrapped ribs back in the smoker and smoke for an additional two hours.

Step 4: Unwrap and Sauce the Ribs

Remove the foil from the ribs and brush the BBQ sauce over them. Place the ribs back in the smoker and smoke for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.

Step 5: Rest and Serve the Ribs

Remove your ribs from the smoker and let them rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

These ribs are best served hot, with some extra BBQ sauce.

There you have it, my spicy smoked St. Louis ribs recipe using the 3-2-1 method.

Smoked Pork Ribs and Garlic

Fall-off-the-bone St. Louis Styled Ribs Recipe (Johnny Trigg Style)

This St. Louis Styled Ribs Recipe (Johnny Trigg Style) will have you licking your fingers clean and smacking your lips in delight.

We will be smoking the ribs unwrapped for three hours, wrapped for two hours, and unwrapped for an hour with a baste of sauce. 

Trust me, this recipe is a real pleasure.


  • 2 racks of St. Louis-style pork ribs
  • 2 cups of BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • A smoker
  • Tongs
  • A basting brush

Step 1: Prepare the Ribs

First, remove the ribs from the packaging. Then, peel off the silver skin from the back of the ribs. 

Next, season the ribs generously with salt and pepper, making sure to rub the seasoning in well.

Step 2: Preheat Your Grill or Smoker

Preheat your smoker to 225°F as usual. I prefer charcoal for the added flavor, but you can use a gas grill if that’s what you have available.

Step 3: Smoke the Ribs

Place the ribs on the grill or smoker, bone side down. 

Smoke the ribs for three hours, flipping them once halfway through. During this time, you can prepare the sauce.

Step 4: Prepare the Sauce

Mix the BBQ sauce, honey, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.

Step 5: Baste the Ribs

After smoking the ribs for three hours, baste them generously with the sauce. Flip the ribs and baste the other side as well. Cover the ribs with foil and smoke for two hours.

Step 6: Uncover and Baste Again

After smoking the ribs for two hours, remove the foil and baste the ribs again. 

Let it smoke for an additional hour or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F.

Step 7: Rest and Serve

Take the ribs off from the smoker and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then, cut the ribs into portions and serve with your favorite sides.

And there you have your St. Louis Styled Ribs Recipe (Johnny Trigg style)

This recipe is perfect for a family gathering or a summer BBQ party. Trust me. These ribs will be a crowd-pleaser and have everyone begging for the recipe. So, fire up the grill, grab your tools, and let’s get cooking!

Homemade Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs

Preparing Smoked St. Louis Ribs

Selecting the Best Ribs

First, you have to choose the best ribs to make the most out of your smoking experience. 

You can find quality St. Louis-style ribs at any butcher or grocery store. 

However, make sure they are fresh and not freezer-burned

I recommend choosing ribs with a decent amount of meat and marbling on them, so they don’t dry out during the smoking process.

Trimming the Ribs

Before seasoning your ribs, you’ll want to trim them to ensure even cooking. 

Start by removing the membrane on the bone side of the ribs, which can be tough and chewy if left on. 

Now, use a knife to loosen the membrane on one end. Then grab it with a paper towel and pull it off in one piece. 

Next, trim any excess fat from the meat side of the ribs, leaving about a quarter-inch layer. This will prevent the ribs from becoming too greasy during the smoking process.

Seasoning the Ribs

Now comes the fun part – seasoning your ribs! 

There are countless rubs and marinades out there for this.

I prefer to keep it simple and use a basic dry rub that enhances the natural flavor of the pork. 

When creating basic recipes, I prefer mixing brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. These create a sweet and savory rub that will give your taste buds a delightful sensation. 

Coat both sides of the ribs generously with the dry rub, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Setting Up Your Smoker

Before you start smoking, make sure you have the right equipment. I prefer using a charcoal smoker like the Weber Mountain Cooker

It can cook low and slow, giving the ribs the smoky flavor we crave. 

You can use any smoker you have, but it’s essential to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.

Start by lighting up the charcoal and allowing it to burn for about 15 minutes until it’s covered with white ash. 

While the charcoal is burning, soak your wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning too quickly.

Once the charcoal is ready, spread it evenly across one side of the smoker’s charcoal tray. Next, place the water pan on the opposite side of the smoker to create an indirect cooking method. 

The water will add moisture to the smoker and prevent the pork ribs from drying out.

Barbecue Pork Ribs Cooking on the Flaming Grill

Wrapping the Ribs

Wrapping your ribs in foil or butcher paper during smoking is a game-changer. 

First, it helps to keep the ribs moist and tender. It also speeds up the cooking time

Once your ribs are seasoned, wrap them tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure to create a tight seal so that no juices escape.

Add a splash of apple cider vinegar or apple juice to the aluminum foil packet to help create steam and add extra flavor.

Now that your ribs are prepped up and ready to go, it’s time to get smoking! 

Keep an eye on the temperature and smoke level throughout the cooking process. This will ensure your ribs are cooked to perfection. 

Don’t forget to baste your ribs with BBQ sauce in the last 30 minutes of cooking for that final touch of flavor.

Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs: What Are They?

St. Louis style ribs are a cut of pork that comes from the belly area of the pig, just below the spare ribs

So, if you can’t find St. Louis ribs, you can simply get spare ribs. Then have the sternums, cartilage, and rib tips removed.

St. Louis style spare ribs are larger, fatter, and meatier than baby back ribs. So, this makes them the perfect choice for those of us who like a bit more meat and fat on the bones. 

The good thing is that the fat content is enough to moisturize the meat during long cooks. That’s why you’re more likely to get that fall-off-the-bone smoked ribs quality from St. Louis ribs. 

When properly cooked, they are tender, juicy, and burst with a smoky flavor.

Differences Between Baby Back Ribs and St. Louis Style Ribs

Now, you may be wondering, what’s the difference between baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs? I’ll break it down for you in the comparison table below:


Baby Back Ribs

St. Louis Ribs

Location on the Pig

Higher up on the back, closer to the spine

Lower down on the back, closer to the belly


Smaller and more tender, typically weighing around 2-3 pounds

Larger and meatier, typically weighing around 3-4 pounds

Cooking Time

Cook faster than St. Louis ribs, typically 4-5 hours

Take longer to cook, typically 5 to 6 hours


Sweeter and more tender, with a lighter flavor profile

Richer and more savory, with a stronger pork flavor


More expensive per pound than St. Louis ribs

Less expensive per pound than baby back ribs

Baby back ribs, also known as loin ribs, come from the top of the pig’s rib cage and are smaller and leaner than St. Louis ribs. 

They have a curved shape and a bone-in center that is shorter than St. Louis ribs. On the other hand, St. Louis ribs are flatter and have a straighter shape. 

They are also trimmed of their cartilage, breastbone, and rib tips making them easier to handle when cooking. 

Regarding flavor, St. Louis ribs are meatier and have a more complex flavor profile than baby back ribs.

Types of Wood Used for Smoking

When it comes to smoking St. Louis style spare ribs, the type of wood you use can make a big difference in the final flavor of the meat. 

Some of my favorite woods to use include hickory, mesquite, and applewood

Hickory is a classic choice that adds a bold, smoky flavor to the ribs. 

Mesquite is a more intense wood perfect for those who like a bit of a kick in their BBQ. 

Applewood is a mild wood that adds a sweet, fruity flavor to the meat.

In general, it’s best to use hardwood when smoking ribs. 

Why do I prefer this? Well, hardwood like oak, hickory, and mesquite burns slower and produces a more consistent smoke due to their dense composition. 

It’s essential to avoid softwoods like pine or cedar. They are conifers and produce too much smoke that can be carcinogenic and impart an unpleasant taste to the meat.

Grilled Pork Ribs on the Charcoal Grill

How Long Should I Smoke My St Louis Ribs?

The length of time it takes to smoke St. Louis ribs depends on factors such as the temperature you’re smoking them and the size of the ribs. However, as a general guideline, St. Louis ribs typically take 5 to 6 hours to smoke. 

Let’s dive in and find out more. 

How Long Does It Take to Smoke St. Louis Ribs at 225°F?

When smoking St. Louis ribs at 225°F, it takes approximately 6 hours. However, it’s important to remember that this is just an estimate. Factors such as the size of the ribs, the type of smoker you’re using, and the type of wood chips can all affect the cooking time.

Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature to ensure that your ribs are perfectly cooked. The internal temperature of the pork ribs should be around 190°F when they are fully cooked and ready to eat.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke St. Louis Ribs at 250°F?

Smoking St. Louis ribs at 250°F will take approximately 5-6 hours. This is a great temperature to use if you want to cook low and slow ribs while enjoying them within a reasonable time.

How Long to Smoke St. Louis Ribs at 275°F?

Smoking St. Louis ribs at 275°F will take approximately 4-5 hours. This higher temperature will help the ribs cook faster. However, it may not be as tender and juicy as the on cooker slower. 

Serving Smoked St. Louis Ribs

Serving smoked St. Louis ribs is all about presentation and the perfect flavors complement. 

Here are some tips, sides, and sauces to help you serve your smoked St. Louis ribs like a pro:

Tips for Cutting Smoked St. Louis Ribs

When it comes to serving smoked St. Louis ribs, the first thing to keep in mind is how to cut them properly. 

  • First, use a sharp knife: You need a good knife to get clean cuts through the ribs. A dull knife can damage the meat and make it harder to cut.
  • Cut between the bones: Start by turning the rack of ribs over, so the bone side is facing up. Then, use your knife to cut between the bones. This will give you individual ribs that are easy to serve.
  • Cut against the grain: When cutting the rib meat, make sure to cut against the grain. It will help the meat to be more tender and easier to chew.

Sauces to Serve with Smoked St. Louis Ribs

While smoked St. Louis ribs are delicious on their own, a good sauce can take them to the next level. 

Here are my favorite sauces to serve with smoked ribs:

  • BBQ sauce: A classic choice for ribs, BBQ sauce is sweet, tangy, and smoky. You can buy it at a store or make one like the honey gold sauce.
  • Hot sauce: If you like your ribs with a little kick or want a spicy recipe, hot sauce is the way to go. Choose your favorite brand and serve it on the side for people to add to their liking.
  • Honey mustard: Try serving honey mustard with your ribs. The rich sweetness of honey and the piquant taste of mustard offers a delectable blend. Together, this creates a mouthwatering and well-balanced flavor. It’s a great alternative to BBQ sauce and pairs well with the smoky flavor of the meat.
Spicy Tomato Sauce with Fresh Chilies and Garlic

Sides to Serve with Smoked St. Louis Ribs

No barbecue meal is complete without some delicious sides. Here are my favorite sides to serve with smoked St. Louis ribs:

  1. Corn on the cob: Fresh, sweet corn is perfect for smoked ribs. I like to boil or grill the corn, then slather it with butter and sprinkle some salt and pepper.
  2. Baked beans: Sweet and savory baked beans complement the smoky flavor of the ribs perfectly. You can make them from scratch in the oven. To save time, you can also get canned beans.
  3. Coleslaw: A crisp, refreshing coleslaw is a great side dish to balance the rich, smoky flavor of the ribs. Plus, it’s easy to make and can be prepared in advance.


There you have it, folks. My guide to making the most delicious and succulent smoked St. Louis Ribs. With the right preparation, smoking technique, and a little patience, you can achieve rib perfection that will have your family and friends asking for more.

Always start with the best quality ribs and trim them properly before seasoning and smoking. Use the right wood chips to achieve the perfect smoky flavor, and remember to keep the temperature and time in check during the smoking process.

While the basic recipe I shared is great, feel free to experiment and add your own twist to it. You can try different seasonings, sauces, and even different wood chips to give your ribs a unique and personalized flavor.

Now, it’s time to get to work and start smoking those ribs!