Home sauces entrees drinks breakfast snacks sides desserts cookware appetizers

Moonbas3 St. Louis Style Barbecue Ribs

Moonbas3 St. Louis Style Barbecue Ribs

Required Equipment


I developed this recipe over several iterations of cooking ribs. This works for both baby back and St. Louis (spare) ribs style ribs. The only difference is baby backs will cook in about 3-4 hours versus spare ribs taking 5-6. I start checking in on them about 1 hour before I anticipate it being done and sometimes sooner depending on how well I am managing smoking temperatures. The sauce is my competition sauce, which is one of my favorites without a doubt. Anyone who has gone to Fowler's Fourth of July blow out has had this a few times and I've never gone home with any leftovers..

Because of the dimensions of the ribs and the locations of their meat, it is difficult to cook to temperature. I have tried multiple times (see image for my probing schema) and have gotten wildly different results depending on where I put the probes, the average distance between bones, and the striation of meat. Now, I just cook to time (3 hours for baby backs, 4 hours for spares) before I begin testing for doneness. Generally, I can just look at the tips of the bones and know how long I have left, but I will be the first to admit it is a "skill" and takes a few iterations to learn well.


Rub makes the world go round, sauce finishes the journey.




Making the rub

  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Pat dry the ribs.
  3. Apply by hand or through a shaker to the ribs directly.
  4. Pat in the rub and let sit 5 minutes.
  5. Repeat step 3 and step 4 again.
  6. (Optional) Put aside in refrigerator for 2-16 hours depending on if you can cook today.

Making the Sauce

  1. Put ketchup in measuring cup.
  2. Put the rest of the ingredients on top of the ketchsup.
  3. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add salt to taste.

Cooking the Ribs

  1. Realize you will be smoking for about 5-6 hours, so plan wood and charcoal accordingly.
    1. I use a 50/50 mix of lump charcoal and hickory or cherry wood when doing ribs. I have a big green egg-style smoker, so I fill up the charcoal basin ~75%.
    2. Be sure you have indirect heat, as direct heating ribs is a bad idea.
    3. (Optional) I use a drip pan that I initially fill with ~2 cups of water, this will last about 3 hours and need to be refilled.
  2. Build fire slowly, coast your smoker up to ~230F.
  3. Put on ribs so they are shielded by your indirect heat zone.
  4. Close lid and do not open for 4 hours (or 3hrs if cooking baby backs).
  5. Ribs will be "done" when they pass a few criteria:
    1. Ribs will have pulled back from the bone about 1".
    2. Ribs will pass the twist test (grab with tongs and twist, they should almost separate and flake).
    3. If not done, wait 20 minutes and try again.
  6. (Optional but tasty) Take ribs off smoker, remove indirect heating blocker or scatter charcoal to create a direct heat zone, then put sauce on ribs directly and cook each side for 90 seconds over open flame. This will caramelize the sugar in the sauce and give a great smoky flavor to your hard-won bark.