Whole Smoked Spare Ribs Recipe

Smoked Spare Ribs Recipe

Eating spare ribs on the July 4th should be a Federal Law! I’ll never forget 4th of July barbecues and eating those wonderful, fall-off-the-bone ribs from my younger days. Back then, folks didn’t wrap ribs in foil or cover them in brown sugar and honey. Ribs were cooked in good hickory smoke, low & slow, until they were done. Whole Spare Ribs were the cut of choice and I want to share with you my way of preparing them. Whole Spare ribs or “Belly Ribs” are the lower portion of a hog’s rib cage. They’re typically 12-13 bones long and still have the breast plate attached (once removed, you have St. Louis cut ribs). For this recipe I’m using spare ribs – and you can find Whole Spares at just about any grocery store. Spare Ribs Once you get them home, remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs. Sometimes whole spares will have the inner skirt or flap meat still attached. It turns into pretty good bark on the under-side of the ribs once cooked, but you can trim it off if you desire. The seasoning is kept to a minimum on these ribs. You need Kosher Salt and a little Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub for color and that’s it. The pit and the wood do all of the magic, and Pork flavor is the star of the show. Spare Ribs Now it’s time to fire up the smoker. I’m using my Ole Hickory Ace MM for this cook but you can use any bbq pit. The temp needs to be in the 250⁰ range and add a few chunks of dry GrilleWood.com Hickory wood to the fire for smoke. Place each slab on the smoker and let the temp creep up to 250⁰. At this point all you have to do is hold it steady. It’ll take in the neighborhood of 4-5 hours for these ribs to get there. Check on them at the half way mark (2.5 hrs) but don’t leave the door open too long. Spare Ribs These ribs are done when a good bark has formed on the outside and the meat pulls back from the bones. I use the bend test. Lift up on the outer edge as if you were folding the rib. It should flex and start to break on top; this is a sure fire way to know that they’re tender. Spare Ribs Remove the ribs from the smoker and give them a few minutes to cool down before serving. A good knife will slice through the entire slab and you can serve them in individual bone pieces. Spare Ribs I do like to add a little extra dry rub to the top and keep the sauce on the side for dipping. I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July! Print
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Whole Smoked Spare Ribs Recipe



  1. Prepare Charcoal Smoker or other grill for indirect cooking at 250⁰ add Hickory Wood chunks to hot coals for smoke flavor.
  2. Remove sinew membrane from bone side of each slab of pork ribs.
  3. Season each slab with Kosher Salt and bbq rub.
  4. Place ribs on smoker and cook for 4.5 hours or until tender.
  5. Cut each slab into individual bone pieces and serve with bbq sauce on the side.
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41 responses to “Whole Smoked Spare Ribs Recipe”

  1. Tremayne Myles says:

    I just purchased the ACE MM after watching every video you have available smoking with it. I have a few questions. Once you light your lump charcoal in it do you ever have to put more charcoal in it when you’re doing a long cook or do you just add more chunks of wood? Next question, do you ever use smaller size logs instead of chunks in the MM? Last question, after you light the coals in the basket do you leave it sitting out in the air for a while or push the basket in? I’m sorry its a long post.

    • Malcom Reed says:

      Yeah, as the charcoal burns down I add more – I usually get about 4 hours on a burn. I usually use briquettes in mine instead of lump. I use the wood for flavor and the charcoal for the heat source. I usually just add a few chunks of wood to the fire during the cook. But the charcoal is what is going to keep your heat and keep it steady. I’ve never used the logs – but Ole Hickory has just started making logs that are for that exact purpose. I usually fill the basket about 3/4 full and light a separate chimney and let those coals get hot. Then I pour the chimney of hot coals on top of my basket of unlit coals – add a few chunks of wood on top – then push the basket in and let it roll.

  2. Chris says:

    I am looking forward to making these this coming weekend. The misses thinks that anything other than baby back’s are a waste of time and I am hoping to change her mind about that with these sweethearts.

    While ive got 5 pounds of the AP, I think im all out of your BBQ rub so ill have to mix up a batch of my own for now.

    The only thing I haven’t decided is if I should do them in the Weber Kettle or my pellet smoker. Im leaning towards the pellet smoker right now so I don’t have to play around with adding charcoal along the way.

  3. Patrick says:

    Dude, I love your site. Never have had a bad recipe from your selection. Making these very ribs in an electric smoker today!

  4. William Lipham says:

    Hi Malcolm,
    I own a Ole Hickory Ace BP and would like to know if you do anything different for loin back ribs since they are more lean cuts than you describe above. Do you suggest a water pan (I noted above that you do not for this recipe), or would you consider foil wrapping them or spraying them with apple juice as Mike Mills suggests. When I have have smoked ribs (4-5 hours) with no modifications (plain heat/no foil on my rig at 250 degrees) they taste great, but in my opinion tend to end up a little on the dry side. Thank you for your great website. It has helped me to step up my game int he backyard.

    • Malcom Reed says:

      I don’t use a water pan in my Ole Hickory – but you might be cooking them too long if they are coming out dry. You can always wrap them – and if you don’t wrap them then use some type of baste or mop to keep them moist throughout the cooking process (every 45 min- 1 hour baste).

    • Suave says:

      I use green peppers and red onion on the rack or on top of the meat that should do the trick for you

  5. glenn says:

    Hey Malcolm, 2 whole slabs of ribs on the L green egg at 250, what would you say about 4 hrs ??

  6. Jason Brandon says:

    First off, love your website man! I was born & raised in Memphis but now reside in Indiana. So i’s great to get killer barbecueing advice from a home town hero. I found your AP Rub recipe on this site before it was updated ( 2cups of salt, 1 cup pep & 1 cup garlic i think). Can you email me this recipe or is it only available for purchase?

    Thank You,
    Jason Brandon

  7. Russell says:

    I noticed you didn’t mop or spray the 3 slabs of ribs through the whole cook, and sometimes you do. Why didn’t you spray those

  8. glenn says:

    Would this recipe/process work with baby back ribs. i don’t care to wrap. Thx in advance

  9. Peter Kaden says:

    G’day Malcom,

    When will your products be available to be sent down to Australian?
    great website and videos.



  10. VJ Lazarus says:

    Good day. Can I BBQ the ribs after they are smoked?

  11. Ricky says:

    I have a Rotisserie style grill and a BGE. I love this Rotisserie style grill and want to try these spare ribs on there. Do you have any tips that I may want to consider like lowering the heat since the meat will be passing in front of the fire or any advice? I always cook at 275 degrees and I noticed you lowered your temp on these ribs. Any pointers would be appreciated.


    • Malcom Reed says:

      I don’t know about cooking ribs fully on the rotisserie. You could try to start them out on the rotisserie but you will still need to wrap them and get them tender.

  12. Jesse says:

    Hi, Malcom. Thanks for sharing your recipes. I really enjoyed the ribs. Is it possible to skip the kosher salt? Mine came out just a little too salty. Will a rub alone work? Thanks.

  13. Bill Segura says:

    What it the ratio mixture that you use to spray your ribs with? Thanks

  14. Richard Anderson says:

    Hi Malcom,
    I am a big fan of yours and I have the spare ribs on the big green egg as we speak. I did everything like you said in the video, including the killer jogs bbq rub. I just wanted to thank you and let you know I always look for Malcom Reed’s recipe. Have a great day, Dick Anderson

  15. Steve Houck says:

    Malcom, I live in Madison, Ms. Can you tell me who sells your products in my area. Contact information is below. Thanks! Steve Houck

  16. How long does it take to cook a slab of ribs 14 bones in the ribs how long would it take to cook them so they don’t come out dry and tough kenny thank u

  17. Jesse says:

    Malcom, question for you. I’ve made these multiple times on my BGE with fantastic results. A lot of your other rib recipes have you wrapping the ribs in foil once they’ve been thoroughly smoked (both baby backs and spares) in order to tenderize.

    These come out pretty tender, so why not wrap these like in your other recipes (if you can get tender without wrapping, why wrap at all)

    • Malcom Reed says:

      You can wrap them. I was going for an “old school” style where you don’t wrap and get a really thick, dark bark. But you could wrap ribs!

  18. antonio da silva says:

    hi Malcom my name Antonio from south africa cape town got a modified s steel gas smoker i got round gas burner i use hickory chips hand full wit hold only 15 min doing pork ribs one rack tep 250 f how fare must the pan be from the gas love your ribs thanks you

  19. Tony Lima says:

    Hey Malcom,
    Great job on the recipes. I’m trying, but will never be as good as you.
    I see you were doing classes. Are you planning to continue once this virus thing isn’t an issue anymore? Would absolutely love to go to one.

    • We have had to put our classes on hold for now and we are unsure when we will be able to pick them back up. We are currently making plans for our classes and events during 2021 and will share the details for these events once the plans are in place!

  20. Fred Bettencourt says:

    Malcom Reed, you Sir, are the MAN! The simple, light dry rub is key as I finally got great flavor out of my spare ribs. 4.5 hrs is on point and the simplicity makes these absolutely mind-blowing. Glad I found your site, and HAPPY 4th of JULY 2021!

  21. Russ says:

    Made these tonight on my Weber Kettle grill using a smokinator with apple juice and applewood for smoke. The came out awesome! So easy to make too!

    Thanks Malcom!

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