If you're running short on time but still want awesome barbecue, try smoking hot and fast ribs. You'll cut your time in half.
4.72 from 118 votes

By Christie Vanover | Published October 11, 2017 | Last Updated April 10, 2023

sliced sauced St. Louis Style ribs in a vertical row on black slate

When you think of barbecue, you probably think about dishes that require you to watch over the pit all day long. With pork ribs for instance, most people follow the 3-2-1 method, which takes a good 6 hours. 

There is an alternative. It’s called the hot and fast method. Instead of smoking slow and low, you’ll crank the heat to 300F degrees and smoke them for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

This is a method that a lot of pitmasters use on the competition circuit, especially when they cook in drum smokers, because it shaves hours off the cook, so they can focus on other meats like hot and fast brisket, competition pork butt and competition chicken

Prepping hot and fast ribs

The prep for hot and fast ribs is the same as it is for virtually all other St. Louis Style pork ribs methods. You’ll start by removing the silver skin off of the back and trimming away any excess fat. 

Then, season your ribs. I like to use mustard as a binder followed by my award-winning Pork Rub. Be sure to rub both sides.

If you’re preparing these ribs for a BBQ competition where the judges will only take 1-2 bites, you may want to consider injecting the ribs. There are a lot of injection recipes out there. Most use a bottle of water, a couple tablespoons of an injection powder like Kosmos Q Moisture Magic or Blue’s Hog Pork Marinade along with a 1/4 cup of maple syrup or apple juice. Combine those ingredients and inject the meat right between the bones and let them rest overnight. 

Trimming ribs for competition

If you’re using the hot and fast method for competition, there are a few more trimming steps you’ll want to follow.

First, square off the bones by removing the end bones. Then, take a large knife and cut down the top side of the ribs where the cartilage lies, until the ribs are 4 1/2 to 5 inches long.

There is also a flap of meat on the backside that I trim away. Watch the video for more detail.

Cook to color

As with most barbecue, I start by cooking to color. What that means is that I’m looking for that moment when the barbecue rub begins to caramelize with the meat proteins and the fat to form a mahogany outer shell.

For 3-2-1 ribs, that will take around 3 hours. For hot and fast ribs, it’ll take just over an hour.

How to make sure ribs are tender

Once the mahogany bark forms, it’s time to wrap the ribs in foil with butter, brown sugar and a liquid like juice, soda or another mop sauce like Blue’s Hog Tennessee Red.

This is the braising stage. During this part of the cook, the meat will tenderize in the liquid, and because you’re cooking at 300F degrees, it should only take about 45 minutes.

two racks of sauced ribs on smoker Rebuild the bark

During the first stage, you built a nice bark, but some of it will become tender during the second stage. So in this final stage, you want to build that bark back up. Also, because the ribs are going onto the grill unwrapped, they’ll pick up more smoke.

Remove the hot and fast ribs from the foil and brush them with your favorite barbecue sauce. Then, place them back on the smoker.

How to know when the hot and fast ribs are done

Rib doneness is in the eye of the beholder. Some prefer fall-off-the-bone, while others like a little tug with their bite.

If you like a little tug, using a pair of tongs, grab the ribs in the center and pick them up. You want them to bend, and when you bounce them, they should just start to crack, but not break. The internal temp will be around 210F.

If you like them to fall off the bone, cook them a little longer so that when you pick them up, they almost break in half. The internal temp will be about 215F.

How to slice ribs

Let the ribs rest a bit, and then lay them so the bones are facing up. Using a long serrated knife like a bread knife, slice the meat between each bone.

By having the bones facing up, you’ll be able to see exactly where to slice. Sometimes the bones will be crooked, so don’t always expect a straight cut.

Before serving them, you can brush them with a little more sauce, if you’d like.

Box of hot and fast ribs for competition

Sides that go great with hot and fast ribs

sliced sauced St. Louis Style ribs in a vertical row on black slate

Hot and Fast Ribs

If you're running short on time but still want awesome barbecue, try smoking hot and fast ribs. You'll cut your time in half.
4.72 from 118 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6


  • 2 slabs St. Louis Style Ribs
  • yellow mustard
  • Christie Vanover's Pork Rub
  • apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • brown sugar
  • honey
  • 1/4 cup apple or grape juice or mop sauce
  • your favorite sauce


  • Prep: Flip the ribs, so that the bones are facing up. Using a paper towel, pull off the membrane and discard. Trim off the flap of meat on the backside. Trim and remove any excess fat.
  • Season: Rub the backside with mustard and pork rub. Let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Flip and rub the topside with mustard and pork rub. Let rest in the fridge while you heat your grill to 300F degrees with an indirect heat zone.
  • Grill: Place the ribs on the grill over indirect heat meat side up. Smoke with the lid closed for 1 hour and 15 minutes. At the 30-minute and one-hour marks, spritz with apple cider vinegar.
  • Wrap: Place two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the counter. Top with 4-5 pats of butter, 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar, a liberal drizzle of honey and 2 tablespoons juice or mop sauce. Place the ribs on the butter, meat side down. To the bone side of the ribs, add 4-5 more pats butter, 1-2 more tablespoons brown sugar and another drizzle of honey. Wrap tightly, crimping up the ends.
  • Braise: Place back on the smoker for 45 minutes to one hour. The ribs should bend when you pick them up.
  • Final Step: Remove from the smoker and unwrap from the foil. Flip the ribs over. Brush with sauce. Return to the smoker for 10-15 more minutes to set the sauce. Remove from the smoker. Let rest a few minutes and slice.



Nutritional content will vary, depending on how much mustard, sugar, honey and BBQ sauce you use.


Calories: 639kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 58gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 242mgSodium: 256mgPotassium: 964mgVitamin A: 260IUCalcium: 68mgIron: 2.6mg

This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator

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