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. Print
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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.
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63 responses to “Competition Rib Recipe”

  1. LARRY HEAPE says:

    Thanks Malcolm for what looks like another KILLER recipe.
    I will be trying this this weekend. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Tony says:

    Like your process

  3. Clell Weinzetl says:

    Are you supposed to mix the margarine,, brown sugar and honey and then lay it down on the aluminum foil?

  4. Randy Ervin says:

    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!

  5. Rob Schwager says:

    Hi Malcolm. Cooking Ribs this weekend but I don’t have your vinegar sauce. How do I make it or substitute it?

  6. Mike says:

    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

  7. jim says:

    Hi Malcom I plan to do this recipe on my weber smoky mountain smoker can I use a rib rack
    thanks, Jim

  8. Mariam Long says:

    Cooked this receip a few times with great comments

  9. Jeff says:


    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


  10. Jim V says:

    With a Weber Smokey Mountain should I use the water pan for moisture or not?

    • Malcom Reed says:

      I believe those are water cookers and are built to run with water in the water pan

    • Gerardo Garcia says:

      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

      • Jeff B says:

        I had a WSM, I just lined the water bowl/drip bowl, with aluminum foil, left it dry. If you spray the ribs down, as seen in this video, you’ll get amazing ribs. I’ve never had a fail with this method, Happy BBQ-ing

  11. Jim V says:

    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.

  12. Kelly V K says:

    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.

  13. Mark Q says:

    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!


  14. eff Harper says:

    Found the BBQ Rub in Fort worth but not the spicy. Didnt matter, BEST RIBS I’ve EVER HAD. Bruh, you are 100

  15. Carlo DiLuca says:

    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

  16. Rachael says:

    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! ?

  17. Paul says:

    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??

  18. rob h says:

    Is the house next door to you for sale? Can we be friends in a none stalker kind of

  19. Shrek says:

    Hey. Should i switch to loin backs for mbn. Comps. Or keep with st louis for mbn and kcbs.

  20. Aleksandar Matijaca says:

    I made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. I am doing it again this Sunday for some friends visiting from Malaysia and Germany. I think they will love it.

  21. Jordan R says:

    What’s the white thing that’s over the cutting board that you use for seasoning? It looks very convenient.

  22. Matt says:

    Did you set the ribs on the grated meat side down the entire time? I know you said you do after wrapping them but just wanted to double check the first couple hours were meat side down to start

  23. Jeff Robbins says:

    I Put the rub on the ribs then put them on my Traeger At 275 for about 2 hours the bark was not dry and looked a little bubbly, and could not pass the swipe test. Is that wet bubbly look on the bark from the fat under the bark,or something else? Can I eliminate that wetness under the bark?

  24. Brent says:

    I followed this recipe this weekend and the brown sugar/honey burnt to the rib and foil. What did I do wrong? I cooked at 250

    • Malcom Reed says:

      It sounds like the ribs were too close to the fire and too high temps. You might want to make sure your pit thermometer is correct. Buy a cheap oven thermometer and see if your grate temp is really at 250

  25. Brett says:

    I’m really confused by this recipe. How can st louis ribs be cooked with 2 hours no foil and 1-1/2 hours foiled at 250 degrees?

  26. Ron says:

    Malcolm, what are you calling ” The swipe test”, I’m sure its referring to the rubs setting and forming a bark but i’m new to grilling ribs and saw this,

  27. David Yuhas says:

    Hello, Malcolm

    I’m working on a major Project for the 1st 2 Weeks of December, in Sweden, that would include, on the 6th & 7th of December, on the Grounds of Glimmingehus Castle, an international, “Barbecued Ribs Competition”…& would like to know who you might know in Europe who could be the Judges
    of this Event.

    If you send me your Email Address, I’ll fill you in on the Details.

    While there are said to be around 50 Cooking Shows on TV… & at least as many political Round Tables…No One yet has come up with the Idea of a buffet, “Dinner-Party Show”. (well…Thomas Jefferson…but that was before TV).

    I think you would be the perfect Host for my “A Table-for 10″…keeping in Mind that back in the Ice Age, the Sight of or ancient Ancestors dining by Firelight was so compelling it is said to have turned Wolves into Dogs

  28. Gary says:

    Hi Malcolm, I’m in the backyard rib cook off part of a KCBS event in Northern Michigan. I’ll be using your method and products which I bought off the How to BBQ Right shop (great customer service btw). I’ve been contemplating using the Butcher BBQ Chipotle Grilling Oil instead of squeezable Parkay in my wrap and was wondering what your thoughts on that would be! Thanks!

  29. Kirk says:

    Love this recipe and all the guidance you give. What do you do in competition if the ribs are done early. Timing sometimes is a little longer for some racks, so I’d like to build a little extra time in so there isn’t a mad panic at the end. Once they are done can you vent, close back up and cooler or cambro for an hour if needed? Then take them out, and finish the last saucing step. Seems like the best way to hold them and not dry out. …….. Or should you even vent if you are going to cooler for an hour or more. Thanks!!

    • Malcom Reed says:

      We typically work in a 45 minute rest on ribs if everything is going as planned. I vent them and stack in an aluminum pan; then just let them hang out on the table if its not too cold outside. If it is cold, just set them in the cambro or a dry cooler but be sure to vent it often. You don’t want them to continue cooking.

  30. Cody T in Pensacola says:

    Big Fan! I was wondering if you ever use a Heat Diffuser plate on your Gateway Drum? If so, with what recipes and what kind of turnout did you have?

  31. Joel Anderson says:

    Malcom my man! Followed this recipe almost to a T for some unbelievable Christmas Day St. Louis cut ribs. Done on the Traeger with a mix of hickory and cherry pellets, plus a mix of Killer Hogs and other rubs. Everyone was blown away. I had been doing my ribs without wrapping, big believer in the “crutch” now – the pullback and tenderness from this method was far better than anything I’ve achieved to date. Thank you for sharing all of your BBQ wisdom with us novices in the North East!

  32. Chris Baddams says:

    Hi, quick question, would you use a water bason for this, if using an offset smoker?

  33. Keith says:

    Big fan, you do great work!!

    So I followed this recipe pretty close on my Big Green Egg and the ribs came out a little too dry, still pulled off the bone though. So I’m wondering if they are too dry, where do I reduce the cooking time at? In the beginning when they are uncovered or when they are wrapped in foil?

    Thanks and keep the smoke rolling!!

    • Malcom Reed says:

      Yes, sounds like they were a little overcooked. You could start checking the ribs in the wrap at the 1 hour mark. Then every 15-20 minutes until they have reached the desired tenderness.

  34. Mike says:

    Best ribs I have made!

  35. David Gonzalez says:

    Hello sir! You & Franklin have inspired me to take on the craft of BBQ. thank you so much for your videos. I was wondering WHERE you buy your meats to cook?

    I’ve been looking around Costco and Sam’s clubs but they don’t look anything like the meat you smoke.

    Thank you!

  36. Sanjeev Vadaketh says:

    Hi malcom, quick question, if I bunch (compress) the ribs up on the grate will the end ribs have more of a bite to them as compared to if I spread the ribs out on the grate.

  37. Sanjeev Vadaketh says:

    Hi Malcom, is there any difference to the end result if you bunch ribs on the rack as opposed to if you space them out? In some of your cooks I notice you bunch the ribs up on the grate. On others you space and straighten them out. Every detail makes a difference in good bbq.

  38. Jackson Kidd says:

    I am interested in doing small time competition bbq. I was wondering what type of grill would be best for me. I have looked at pellet, gateway barrel, and stick burner. What would you recommend?

  39. Ray says:

    Malcom is awesome, I love his recipes and got into smoking because of him!!

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