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To me, the two things that make barbecue taste so good are the amazing crust that forms after a slow and low cook and the super tender meat that’s encased by that bark. These individually smoked pork ribs offer the best of those two worlds with every single bone.
- Individually Smoked Ribs Ingredients
- Individually Smoked Ribs Equipment
- Pre-Slicing Ribs Before Smoking
- How to Season the Individual Ribs
- How to Keep the Ribs Moist
- Smoking Individual Ribs on a Gas Grill
- Smoking Individual Ribs on a Charcoal Grill
- Smoking Individual Ribs on a Pellet Grill
- Smoking Individual Ribs on a Ninja Foodi Grill
- What to Serve with Individually Smoked Pork Ribs
Individually Smoked Ribs Ingredients
You only need four ingredients for this recipe. It really can’t get much easier than that.
Individually Smoked Ribs Equipment
You’ll need some basic kitchen tools. Then, the rest of the equipment you’ll need will depend on the type of grill you’re cooking on.
Pre-Slicing Ribs Before Smoking
The first step to prepping ribs – whether you leave them whole or smoke them individually – is to remove the silverskin on the back. This will help ensure you have a tender bite.
It can be a little tricky. Use a paper towel to get a grip on the silverskin, and then rip it off. If you’re lucky, you can pull it with one try. But some ribs come off in strips, and that’s just how it goes.
Place the ribs on the cutting board and using that large straight-edge knife, slice along the meat right in the middle of two bones. Continue working your way down the rack.
You will have one end with some skinnier bones and smaller pieces. My family loves that end. They actually fight over those ribs.
How to Season the Individual Ribs
Once your ribs are cut into individual bones, season them on all sides with 1/4 cup of my award-winning Spiceology Pork Rub.
The rub includes sugar, salt, garlic, onion, smoked paprika, onion and mild chiles.
Let the meat rest while you get your grill setup.
How to Keep the Ribs Moist
As the ribs are cooking, it’s very important to spritz them with liquid every 20-30 minutes. This is going to help the meat retain its natural juiciness.
You can spritz with juice, ciders or beer, but honestly water works great, too.
Throughout the cook, open the lid and look at the ribs. If they appear a little dry, give them a really good spritz. It’s okay if the water puddles a bit on top. The ribs will soak it right up.
The other key to juicy ribs is cooking them at the right temperature and to the right temperature.
When developing this recipe, I cooked some individually smoked pork ribs at a grill temp of 225F degrees, and I found that they dried out a bit too much. Cooking them between 250-275F degrees was the sweet spot.
You’ll know they’re ready when the internal temperature of the meat reaches between 200-208F degrees.
USDA Safe Cooking Temperature for Pork
145F degrees is the perfect temperature for pork chops, but for pork ribs to be tender, they need to be cooked a lot further than that. As the meat starts to form a nice bark, stick a Thermapen into the meat, avoiding the bone. Once it hits this goal temp, they’re ready to be sauced.
|GOAL TEMPERATURE||200-208F / 93-97C degrees|
Smoking Individual Ribs on a Gas Grill
Set your gas grill up with an indirect heat zone. I have a 3-burner grill, so I turn the right burner on to medium-low and leave the left two burners off.
Once the wood chips start to smoke and the grill reaches 250-275F degrees, add the ribs over the part of the grill where the burners are turned off. Place the thicker pieces closer to the burner that’s on, since they’ll take longer to cook.
Cook them for 3 to 3 1/2 hours to an internal temperature of 200F degrees, spritzing with liquid every 20-30 minutes.
Once they reach the goal temp, brush them with sauce and let them smoke for 5-10 more minutes.
Smoking Individual Ribs on a Charcoal Grill
Whether you’re using a kettle-style grill, PK Grill or ceramic cooker, you’ll want to cook the ribs over indirect heat.
For a ceramic cooker, that means adding the charcoal, lighting it, letting it ash over and then adding the deflector followed by the grill grate.
For charcoal grills without a deflector, fill a charcoal chimney with Cowboy Hardwood Hickory or Apple Briquets, add a firestarter under the chimney, and light it up. Once the coals ash over, dump them into one side of the grill, leaving an area of the grill without coals.
Adjust the vents, until the grill temp reaches 250-275F degrees. If your grill doesn’t have a built in thermometer, use a device like the Thermoworks Square DOT to measure your grill temp.
Place the thicker bones closer to the coals. Then, let the ribs smoke for 3-3 1/2 hours, spritzing regularly, until they reach an internal temperature of 200F degrees.
Brush them with sauce and let them continue cooking for 5-10 minutes.
Smoking Individual Ribs on a Pellet Grill
Fill your pellet grill hopper with Cowboy Charcoal and Applewood Barbeque Pellets, set the dial to 250F degrees and let it warm up.
Once your grill temp is steady, add the seasoned ribs to the smoker. Every pellet grill has hotter spots, usually that’s right over where the fire pot is. Add the thicker ribs to this area of the grill and place the littler ones further from the fire pot.
Spritz the ribs throughout the cook. In about 2 1/2 hours, they should reach an internal temperature of 200F degrees. At this point, brush them with sauce and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
Smoking Individual Ribs on a Ninja Foodi Grill
Even though the Ninja Foodi Grill has a grill setting, I prefer using the roast setting with the air fryer basket.
The reason I use the basket is because it helps provide even air flow on all sides of the ribs. Preheat the Ninja Foodi Grill to Roast with a temp of 250F degrees and a time of 2 hours or so.
Once the grill is pre-heated, add the ribs. You can fit 8-10 at a time. Close the lid and cook for 1 1/2 hours, spritzing occasionally with liquid.
Once the ribs reach an internal temperature of 200F degrees, baste them with BBQ sauce and cook for another 5 minutes.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
If you follow the steps in this recipe, you should end up with moist, juicy rib meat surrounded by a flavorful bark. The key to keeping them from drying out is cooking at 250-275F degrees and spritzing often with water, juice or beer.
The timing depends on your type of grill. They cook the fastest on the Ninja Foodi Grill at about 1 1/2 hours. On a pellet grill, they should be ready in about 2 1/2 hours. On a gas or charcoal grill, they’ll take 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
There are usually about 12 bones in each rack of St. Louis Style Pork Ribs. The average adult will eat about 4 ribs, depending on how many side dishes you’re serving, so 1 rack should feed 3 adults.
What to Serve with Individually Smoked Pork Ribs
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Individually Smoked Pork Ribs
- 1 rack St. Louis Style Pork Ribs
- 1/4 cup Christie Vanover's Pork Rub
- 1 bottle water
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- Prep the Ribs: Remove the ribs from the packaging and pat them dry. Remove the silverskin and slice the ribs between each bone. Season on all sides with the pork rub.
- Gas Grill: Heat your grill to 250F degrees with one burner set to medium-low and the other burners off. Add a foil pouch with Cowboy Apple Chips for added flavor.
- Pellet Grill: Heat your pellet grill to 250F degrees with Cowboy Charcoal and Apple Pellets.
- Charcoal Grill: Use a charcoal chimney to light Cowboy Charcoal Apple Briquets. Once ashed over, dump the coals into one side of your grill, leaving an indirect heat area for the ribs. Let burn for 15 minutes. Adjust the vents so the heat is around 250F degrees.
- Ninja Foodi Grill: Place the air fryer basket in the grill. Set the grill to roast with a temperature of 250F degrees. Set the time for 2 hours.
- Grill: Place the ribs on the grill bone-side-down over indirect heat with the thickest pieces closest to the heat.
- Spritz: Fill a spray bottle with water. Spritz the ribs every 20-30 minutes and cook to an internal temperature of at least 200F degrees. The ribs on the Ninja Foodi Grill will take about 1 1/2 hours. The pellet grill will take about 2 1/2 hours. The charcoal and gas grills will take 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
- Sauce: Once the ribs reach at least 200F degrees, brush them with barbecue sauce and let them continue cooking for 5-10 minutes.
- Different types of grills have different total cook times. The ribs cooked on the Ninja Foodi Grill and pellet grill will cook faster than ribs cooked on the gas or charcoal grill. This is in part because those grills circulate the heat during the cook.
- To keep the rib meat moist, be sure to spritz them heavily every 20-30 minutes or when they look dry. The liquid will help retain moisture and will help create the bark.
- Ribs cooked to 200-208F degrees will be perfectly tender.
- Sauce is totally optional. If you prefer a dry-rubbed rib vs. a wet rib, you can skip that step.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.