Nothing takes a backyard barbecue to the next level quite the way that Smoked Baby Back Ribs does. The pinnacle of the Barbecue world! I like my ribs smoked, saucy, and fall of the bone tender.
How long does it take to cook a rack of Baby Back Ribs? Whether you cook your ribs on a grill, in a smoker or even in an oven. You want to cook your ribs low and slow at a temperature of 225 degrees and they will take around 4-5 hours to finish.
Next you will need to know how to recognize when the baby back ribs have finished cooking and are ready to eat. Below you can go through some of the different techniques for cooking baby back ribs and how to recognize when they are done.
Now you may have have heard a lot of number sequences being thrown around for cooking ribs. What these different numbers basically mean is that in the middle of cooking the ribs you are going to wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil. The second number represents the amount of time you will cook the ribs wrapped. The rest of the time they will be cooked unwrapped in your smoker or grill.
2-2-1 Method – 2 hours unwrapped, 2 hours wrapped, 1 hour unwrapped
This method will take 5 hours total to cook the ribs. You will want to go with this method if your baby back ribs are on the larger side. Due to the fact they will take a bit longer to cook.
2-1-1 Method – 2 hours unwrapped, 1 hour wrapped, 1 hour unwrapped
This method will take 4 hours to complete and should be used for smaller racks of ribs. Since they wont need to cook for as long. For more information on the 2-1-1 method check out our article Smoked Baby Back Ribs – 2-1-1 Method.
3-2-1 Method – 3 hours unwrapped, 2 hours wrapped, 1 hour unwrapped
The 3-2-1 method is 6 hours long and should mostly only be used for Spareribs or really large ribs. For an in depth look at the 3-2-1 method check out our article 3-2-1 Smoked Spareribs in the Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smoker.
One of the best ways to tell if a rack of ribs is done is to take the temperature of the rack. They should be done if they are in between 190 to 205 degrees. After researching quite a bit on the best temperature a lot of people seem to agree that 195 degrees is the sweet spot for when ribs are done. At this point the collagen and fat should have melted away and will leave behind tender and juicy ribs.
You can go with an instant read thermometer and perform spot checks towards the end of your cook. Or you can go with a leave in meat probe thermometer. I personally have both and use both at times through out a long smoke. The basic thermometer that I own and recommend is the ThermoPro TP-16 Meat Thermometer check it out on Amazon.com.
The Bend Test
For the bend test you want to pick up one end of the ribs with your tongs and hold them up. They should bend towards the ground but not break. You will want to see some separation or cracking in between the bones.
Another way to tell if the ribs are done is by the pull back of the meat off the bone. You should look for a half inch to a full inch of pull back for the ribs to be done.
The most important then to remember when cooking ribs is to not be in a rush and keep an eye on some of the signs above. After your ribs are done cooking enjoy them with friends and family.