For Kansas City Style Ribs the rib of choice is a trimmed spare rib or more commonly known as the St. Louis Cut. These ribs are noticeably fattier than loin ribs and everyone knows “fat is flavor!”

Also, Kansas City BBQ is more famous for sauce than any cut of meat. If you don’t have a sweet, tomato based sauce; then you don’t have Kansas City style Q.

For my Kansas City Style Wet Ribs I start with 2 racks of trimmed spare ribs (St. Louis Cut).


I remove the membrane on these which can be a little tricky. It’s easier if you start at the end of the slab and use a paper towel to grip the membrane. It will come right off in one piece this way.

The seasoning on Kansas City Ribs is all about balance. The rub should be salty, sweet, and have a touch of heat; but not one flavor overpowering the other.


Give the ribs a good coat of rub on all sides and the edges. Place the ribs in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours to rest. This gives the rub time to work into the meat.

Allow the ribs to come to room temperature for ½ hour and place them on the smoker at 250 degrees.


On my smoker the fuel source is primarily charcoal, but I also place a few hickory chunks on the hot coals for smoke. A little smoke goes a long ways with ribs.

To keep the ribs moist during the cooking process I use a spray bottle with plain apple juice. After 1 ½ hours open the smoker and give the ribs a quick spray. Repeat this step every 45 minutes until the ribs are tender.


At the 4 hour mark it’s time to start checking for tenderness. Spare ribs are thick enough to use a quick read thermometer (Thermapen) but it’s best to go by feel.

First I like to lift up on one end of the rib and see if the slab will show any sign of starting to break. Then turn the ribs on edge and gently twist a couple of the bones. When it feels like the bones will almost spin the ribs are done.


Now these ribs wouldn’t be Kansas City style Wet Ribs if it wasn’t for a finishing sauce, so the very last step is to glaze the ribs with a sweet, tomato based sauce. Brush a little sauce on the top side and let the sauce caramelize for another 20 min. Anytime you glaze you want to stay close to the pit because it can go from perfect to burnt in no time.


Remove the ribs and let them rest for a few minutes before you cut them into serving portions. Additional sauce can and usually is served on top these ribs before they hit the table.


Malcom Reed

Killer Hogs BBQ Cooking Team
Sign-up for my weekly BBQ newsletter at
Join my Facebook BBQ Community
Follow me on Twitter

About the Author

I am Malcom Reed and my brother, Waylon, and I are the Killer Hogs competition bbq team. Here at, I want to give you my secrets, methods and techniques you need to produce competition-quality BBQ. I want to give enough detail for BBQ novices, but still offer information that is useful for the professional BBQ cooks. I only focus on REAL bbq. And I take it seriously.

Leave A Response