competition ribs on smoker
February 19, 2013

Yoder Smoker

This past weekend I had the chance to cook on a pellet smoker for the first time. If you’re not familiar with pellet cookers, they run off small, compressed “pellets” of 100% wood. There’s no filler or other junk to worry about, so what you get is pure, clean smoke.

I have to admit that I was a little leery of a pellet smoker producing the same competition quality meat that I get with charcoal and wood, so I was excited about putting the Yoder to the test.

Firing up the Yoder and controlling the temperature is probably the best feature of this smoker. It’s literally “set and forget”. Once you have pellets in the hopper, it’s as easy as flipping a switch, pressing start, and setting the target temperature. The Yoder came up to 235 in about 15-20 minutes, and it was ready to roll.

Ribs were the first meat that I choose to cook on the Yoder because I wanted to see just exactly how much smoke flavor the pellets would infuse into the meat.

Ribs on the Yoder Smoker

I’m a firm believer in a little smoke goes a long way when it comes to competition barbecue. It’s easy to over smoke a piece of meat, and that’s one thing that you can’t change once it’s done. Ribs are a challenge on any smoker not only to get the tenderness right but due to their thickness (or thinness I should say) they can absorb too much smoke and turn out bitter.

The ribs I selected for this cook were 2.5lbs and down loin back ribs. I had my butcher cut them down on each side to square the racks and remove any fragments left from the processor. Two of the slabs were prepped my normal comp style, slathered with a little mustard and dusted with Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub. For the other two racks, I had a pre-rub that I wanted to try. It went on both sides first, and after 5 minutes. I applied The BBQ Rub.

Ribs getting a glaze of The BBQ Sauce

All four racks went on the Yoder at the same time. I stuck to my normal basting schedule of every 45 minutes. I did take note of the smoke that the Yoder was producing. It was light and blue just like good smoke is supposed to be. Also, the cherry pellets gave off a terrific aroma. The only thing missing was a little sweet onion in the air.

After 2 hours the ribs had all of the color that I wanted, so it was time to wrap. I go with a good dose of margarine, brown sugar, & honey inside the foil. Then it’s back on the smoker to tenderize. I always like to check the ribs about 1 ½ hours into the wrap stage just to get a feel for the tenderness. The last thing I want is mushy ribs, so it’s better to check than guess. These ribs still needed a little longer, so I gave them 30 more minutes. At that point all four racks came inside, and I vented & drained the juices from the foil to stop the cooking process. Total cook time at this point was 4 hours at 235 degrees.

For the final glaze I used our competition sauce…Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce. Just like The BBQ Rub. it was created not just for great flavor but also final appearance of the meat. Everyone knows that judges eat with their eyes first! The ribs went back on the smoker once both sides were sauced. This is where I felt a little nervous. At this point on my smokers, there would be absolutely no smoke coming from my stacks. Charcoal would provide the heat because I don’t want any smoke flavor to build up on the outside of the meat. The pellets in the Yoder are producing heat but they’re still giving off smoke.

I kept a close watch on the ribs checking them every 15 minutes for darkness. After 45 minutes the glaze had set, and there wasn’t any problem with the sauce over caramelizing.

Ribs with Final Glaze

The final appearance of these ribs was competition worthy and the Yoder did one heck of a job maintaining heat and producing just the right amount of smoke. I was really surprised at the smoke ring and taste. The level of smoke flavor was right on the money. Now I know how those guys using pellet smokers are racking up the trophies!

Malcom Reed
Killer Hogs BBQ Cooking Team
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Competition Rib Recipe

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  1. Allen says:

    What is your mop made of

    • I typically use a basic mop of:

      1 cup Apple Juice
      1/4 cup Garlic Red Wine Vinegar
      1/4 cup Olive Oil
      1 cup Water

      Pour all ingredients into container. Shake well and keep refrigerated.

      You can substitute Italian dressing for the oil and vinegar.

  2. David says:

    I have to say I really enjoyed your how to videos. Can’t wait to hit the grill this weekend.

  3. Jason Levine says:

    What is in your all spice? Can we have the recipe? Thanks Malcom

  4. Jason says:

    Enjoyed your tips on competition BBQ I went to a comp in Houston last weekend used my rubs and some of your tips and won grand champion! Thanks! you guys know what you are doing! Keep up the good work…..

  5. Robert says:

    I have a problem with spices burning I think. My ribs come out really dark. Please help !!

  6. thomas says:

    Hey Malcom,

    Love your youtube channel, I have an ugly drum that I built and it works gteat. I have used your recipes and LOVE them. I am interested in one of the Yoder smokers. Are those electric?

  7. Omar says:

    I am using weber smokey mountain want kind of wood chucks would I use and how many?

    • You would use whatever type of wood chunks you want. It’s all about what you want for the final flavor. For me, if I’m cooking pork I usually use cherry or apple. If I’m cooking beef, I’m using pecan. And a lot of times I will throw in just one chunk of hickory to give it another note of flavor. And when it comes to smoking, I would just start with 2 – 3 small chunks. You don’t want to over-smoke your meat.

  8. Nick says:

    im a big fan of your videos and have won a couple of backyard bbq competitions using your tips. Thank you for building this great website. I have a question on when to use a base before applying the rub. On the your memphis dry ribs you skipped the base but I’v noticed on other videos that you use mustard. got any advice as to when to use a base and when not to use a base? Ive never used one and im wondering if my ribs would benifit from a base. I havent experimented with this becasue im not a fan of mustard. Thank you.

  9. Rick Lollie says:

    Malcom I just ordered the 3 pack of The BBQ Rub. I live in Crawfordville,Florida.I was just wondering how long does it take to get the order after they have been shipped.

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Welcome to HowToBBQRight

I'm Malcom Reed and these are my methods and techniques for mouth-watering, slow-smoked BBQ. Recipes, videos, detailed procedures and BBQ tips.

To me, it's all about Barbecue... I love creating, cooking and sharing my recipes.

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