How To Smoke St Louis Ribs


Smoking St. Louis ribs is an art that every barbecue enthusiast aspires to master. Besides being a favorite among barbecue lovers, St. Louis-style ribs are known for their meatiness, tenderness, and juicy flavor. The ribs are cut from the lower part of the pig’s belly, making them ideal for smoking. In this article, we’ll discuss how to prepare and smoke St. Louis ribs like a pro.

Choosing the right ribs

Choosing the right St. Louis ribs is critical to your final product. When buying ribs, look for meaty ribs with a rich color and marbling. If your ribs are too fatty, you risk losing a lot of meat and flavor during the cooking process. It’s best to choose ribs with a good ratio of meat to fat.

Preparing the ribs

After selecting your St. Louis ribs, it’s time to prepare them for smoking. Start by removing the membrane from the bone side of the rack. This will help the smoke penetrate the meat more effectively, resulting in a more flavorful rib. Use a sharp knife to loosen the edge of the membrane, then grab it with a paper towel and peel it off in one piece. If the membrane is tough to remove, try using a pair of pliers for better grip.

Seasoning the ribs

Before smoking the ribs, it’s time to season them with a dry rub. The rub adds flavor to the meat and forms a slightly crispy bark on the outside of the ribs. There are many rub recipes available online, or you can create your own. A typical rub recipe includes a blend of salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Season both sides of the ribs generously with the dry rub, then wrap them in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.

Setting up the smoker

When it comes to smoking St. Louis ribs, slow and low is the way to go. Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat it to 225°F. If you’re using a charcoal smoker, fill the firebox with charcoal and add a few wood chunks, such as hickory or apple, for smoke flavor. If you’re using an electric smoker, add wood chips to the chip bowl or smoking box. For gas smoker, place the wood chips in a foil packet on the heated grates. Ensure that the water pan is filled with water to keep the meat moist.

Smoking the ribs

After preheating the smoker, it’s time to smoke the ribs. Place the ribs on the smoker grates, meat side up. You can add a drip pan under the ribs to catch any fat dripping and prevent flare-ups. Smoke the ribs for about 5-6 hours, depending on the thickness of the ribs. Every hour, spritz the ribs with apple juice or apple cider vinegar to keep them moist. You can also rotate the ribs or switch their positions to ensure even smoking.

Checking for doneness

After smoking the ribs for several hours, it’s time to check for doneness. To do so, use a meat thermometer to probe the meat between the bones. The internal temperature of smoked St. Louis ribs should reach 195°F. Alternatively, you can use the bend test. Pick up the rack of ribs with tongs and give it a little bounce. If the meat starts to crack slightly along the bone and bend at a 45-degree angle, the ribs are done.

Resting and Sauce the Ribs

Once the St. Louis ribs have reached their desired temperature or are ready by the bend test, take them off the smoker, but do not slice them immediately. Allow the ribs to rest for at least 10-15 minutes. Resting allows the juices to settle and prevent the meat from drying out. While resting, you can brush them with your favorite barbecue sauce or glaze. A great sauce will bring all the flavors together and enhance the ribs’ natural taste.


Smoking St. Louis ribs are a perfect way to explore your barbecue skills. With our tips above, you can cook up a batch of ribs that will have your guests begging for more. Remember, smoking ribs takes time and patience, but the end result is well worth the effort. Happy smoking!

Geb's BBQ

How do I smoke St Louis ribs?

Prepare the Ribs

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs, and apply your favorite rub or seasoning all over the ribs.

Set up the Smoker

Ensure your smoker is set up with wood chips or chunks, and preheat to 225-250°F. Place the ribs on the smoker, bone side down.

Smoking the Ribs

Smoke the ribs for 2-4 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 195-203°F. Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and let them rest for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

What type of wood should I use to smoke St Louis ribs?

Choose your Wood

Choose a hardwood that pairs well with pork, such as hickory, apple, or cherry. Avoid softwoods or woods that are too strong in flavor, such as mesquite or oak.

How do I know when St Louis ribs are done?

Use a Thermometer

Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding the bone. When the internal temperature reaches 195-203°F, the ribs are done. Another way to check is to bend the ribs – if they start to crack, they are done.

[page-generator-pro-related-links post_status=”publish” radius=”0″ output_type=”list_links” limit=”2″ columns=”2″ delimiter=”, ” link_title=”%title%” link_anchor_title=”%title%” link_display_order=”link_title,featured_image,link_description” link_display_alignment=”vertical” orderby=”name” order=”asc”]

You May Also Like

About the Author: Staff Reporter