Competition Rib Recipe

Competition Rib Recipe

Competition Rib Recipe

When cooking Competition Rib Recipe, it’s all about that one perfect bite.  These bbq competition ribs aren’t like your typical “eating” ribs because they have a richer, sweeter flavor and need to showcase perfect appearance, tenderness, and taste.

We baby these ribs in a contest and this recipe has brought home many trophies for my team.

In KCBS contests we cook St. Louis cut Spare Ribs. I look for a well-marbled rib with good weight – 2.75lbs and up.  This size rib has plenty of meat on the bones for the judges, so they can get a good bite.

Competition Rib Recipe

My Competition Rib Recipe process starts with trimming the ribs. I square up each rack by removing the end bones and taking any excess meat off the rib tip area. Each slab needs to be close to the same size in order to cook at the same rate.

Remove the sinew membrane from the backside the ribs and trim away any thick deposits of fat from both sides.

Competition Rib Recipe

For Competition Rib Recipe I want a savory layer of seasoning with a touch of heat but you also need a sweet layer to balance it out.  I use both my Killer Hogs Hot Rub and Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub.  This combo is hard to beat and gives the ribs an amazing color as they cook.

Competition Rib Recipe

Layer on a very light coat of mustard on each slab and sprinkle the rubs on both sides.  Let them hang out at room temp while the smoker comes up to temperature.

Just about any type of pit can be used to cook competition ribs.  For this cook I’m firing up my Gateway Drum with Royal Oak Lump charcoal.  The target smoking temperature is 250⁰.  Once the smoker stabilizes add a chunk each of Cherry and Hickory for smoke flavor.

Competition Rib Recipe

Place the ribs on the cooking grate and make sure they’re lying straight on the rack. The way you set them in place is the shape they will cook. Smoke for 2 hours and spritz with a 50:50 mixture of apple juice and water as needed (about every 30 minutes).

The ribs will start to develop a bark on the outside as the rubs caramelize and this is the point where you want to get them wrapped.  Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil long enough to cover the ribs.  On the foil layer a few lines of Parkay squeeze margarine, ¼ cup brown sugar, and 1 Tablespoon of honey.  Place the ribs meat down in this mixture.

At this point check the backside of the ribs and remove anything that could give the judges a bad taste – little bits of rendered fat or meat.  Now they need a little spice and acidity in the wrap so drizzle ¼ cup of Killer Hogs The Vinegar Sauce down the middle of the slab. Close the aluminum foil around the ribs and place them back on the smoker to tenderize.

Competition Rib Recipe

It takes about 1 – 1 ½ hours in the wrap for this Competition Rib Recipe but be sure to check them after 1 hour.  When you see the larger bones exposed on the back it’s a tell-tell sign that the ribs are tender.

As you lift the slabs you can feel them bend in between the bones almost to the point of breaking.  You have to be careful here when handling them or the slab could tear.

Competition Rib Recipe

Let the ribs hang out for 30 minutes on the counter to rest in the foil. At this point I fold another sheet of aluminum foil into a boat shape to transfer the ribs back to the smoker for a quick glaze.

Competition Rib Recipe

Carefully transfer each rack to the foil boats and brush on a light coat of glaze.  The glaze is a mixture of ¾ cup Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce mixed with ¼ cup Killer Hogs The Vinegar Sauce.  Warm the sauce slightly and brush it on the meat side of the ribs. Place each rack back on the pit and set the glaze for 15 minutes.

Competition Rib Recipe

Now the ribs are ready to cut into judging portions. Place each rack meat side down on the cutting board and use a long bladed, sharp knife (I’m using my Brisket Knife) to precisely cut in between each bone. (a good knife is key here.)

competition rib recipe

Once all of the ribs are cut, apply a little glaze to the cut side of each piece and select the best bones for the turn in box.

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Competition Rib Recipe
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Competition Rib Recipe


  • 2 slabs St. Louis cut Spare Ribs
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub
  • ¼ cup Killer Hogs Hot BBQ Rub
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Margarine
  • ¾ cup Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce
  • ¾ cup Killer Hogs The Vinegar Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey


  1. Prepare smoker for indirect cooking at 250⁰ add cherry and hickory wood for smoke flavor.
  2. Remove the end bones from each slab of ribs to give a square appearance. Trim any excess cartilage from the top of each slab. Pull the membrane off and remove excess fat & sinew from top and bottom of each.
  3. Apply thin coat of mustard to each side. Layer the Killer Hogs Hot BBQ Rub on both sides followed by a light dusting of Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub.
  4. Place the ribs on the smoker and cook for 2 hours. Spritz with a 50:50 mixture of Apple Juice & Water every 30 minutes.
  5. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the counter big enough to wrap the ribs. Layer half the margarine, brown sugar, and honey on the foil. Place a slab of ribs meat side down into the mixture and drizzle ¼ cup of Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce on the back side. Close the foil and repeat for the other slab.
  6. Place the wrapped ribs meat side down on the pit and continue to cook for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until tender. Be sure to check the ribs for tenderness at the 1 hour mark.
  7. When a few of the larger bones are exposed on the back and the slab bends easily when lifted the ribs are ready to come off the pit. Rest for 30 minutes on the counter and remove from foil. Place each slab back on the pit and apply a light coat of glaze ¾ cup Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce mixed with ¼ cup Killer Hogs The Vinegar Sauce.

Malcom Reed
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Competition Rib Recipe

Comments 30

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  1. Absolutely the best ribs I’ve ever made! I followed your detailed instructions, no steps left out. I used the PBC, kept the temp between 250-275. We’re in a competition next month, this is the recipe we’re going to use. Thanks again Malcolm!

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  2. Malcom – YOU ARE THE MAN !!!! Bought all the RUBS – followed your Video – Turned out AMAZING – Thanks for the great video’s and the great products !!!!! Appreciate all that you DO !!! Thanks, MIke

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  3. Malcom,

    Thanks for the recipe . I bought all your products mentioned. This was my first time smoking .

    I just got a Yoder and on it went. Best ribs me and my family ever had. Memorial Day weekend.

    Going to try the brisket and pork shoulder recipe tomorrow . IM sure it won’t disappoint.

    Thanks again


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    2. Hey Jim I’m a be doing these ribs also on my wsm did you use your water pan when you made them I’m debating not to use it

  4. Hi Malcom,

    Made these ribs yesterday and they were probably the best I ever had! Your rubs and sauces are excellent. A brisket and pig are next on my list. Thanks for the great recipes.

  5. My wife is not much of a meat eater, loves chicken on the uds. But today, smoked party wings for lunch, and ribs for dinner, she loved both! Thanks for the recipes and videos, you make it so easy.

  6. Hi Malcom,

    I love this recipe! Thank you for sharing your competition techniques. My family told me these are the best ribs I have made! Now it is time for me to build a UDS so I can go low and slow with the ribs or a brisket.

    Well done, SON!


  7. Hi Malcolm Great Recipe!
    Question, I am going to cook for a big gathering, maybe 15 to 20 slabs, can I cook the ribs for step #1……. 2 to 3 hours the day before, then refrigerate over night and then wrap an finish the next day.

    Thank You!
    Carlo D

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  8. After the two hour mark… I’m seeing the start of the “bark” on the racks, however the meat doesn’t seem like it’s close to being cooked. It could just be an illusion. Following your recipe to the “T”! Hoping this works… it smells delicious though! 🤞

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  9. Hi Malcolm!

    Love all your awesome cooking videos!!

    I just bought a pellet smoker big horn xl. And it come with 2 cooking crates If I I put 2 racks of ribs on each level. A total of 6 slabs. Will I have to rotate the ribs at all so they all get the same amount of smoke and heat??

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