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3-2-1 Ribs Method Explained

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The 3-2-1 Ribs Method: everyone knows it, and many great pitmasters will swear by it. But what are the actual benefits of the Method compared to just smoking your ribs for 6 hour straight?

RELATED: 3-2-1 Method: A Secret Conversation Between Veteran Pitmasters

In this video we are not only explaining the 3-2-1 Ribs Method, but also comparing it to simply putting the ribs on the smoker for the whole smoke. Two racks of spare ribs will be smoked at the same time, but with two different methods. At the end of the video we will compare the results.

3-2-1 Ribs Method Explained

Here’s a quick summary of the video, in case you prefer reading.

The 3-2-1 method essentially means that we break the smoking time into 3 separate blocks:

  • 3 hours of smoking unwrapped at 225 F
  • 2 more hours after wrapping the ribs and adding some liquid (for example apple juice)
  • 1 final hour of smoking unwrapped

A quick tip: when unwrapping the ribs for the last part of the smoke, make sure to save the liquid to use it as a finishing sauce. Also generously coat the ribs with BBQ sauce at the beginning of the last 1 hour.

Comparing the Method to “just smoking” ribs
One difference that is obvious between the spare ribs that were smoked with the method (rib A) and the ones that were smoked for 6 hour straight (rib B) is the color. “Rib B” is significantly darker than the rib smoked with the Method. Another visible difference is the pullback of the meat on the bone, with “rib A” having more pullback than “rib B”.

But more importantly: is there any difference in the taste? Yes. The rib that we foiled for two hours during smoking is more tender-although it does not fall right off the bone either. Both ribs taste, admittedly, great, with the one great difference being the tenderness.

Do you use the 3-2-1 method when smoking ribs? What are the benefits and drawbacks you have noticed? Let us know in the comments below!

Related Links:
Smoked Spare Ribs “Wet” Style Smoked Pork Ribs
 This is not your everyday smoked spare ribs recipe. Although it takes longer than most recipes, if done right the results are spectacular. This is the smoked “Wet” Style smoked pork ribs recipe.

5 Basic Tips For Smoking Meat Tip #1: The most important tip I can give you is to have patience and never hurry your cook because low and slow with a smoker is key to creating your masterpiece.

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This channel is dedicated to the family and the love of cooking in the great outdoors. At Smoked Reb BBQ I try to showcase basic BBQ techniques while incorporating my daughter in my videos and have her help me cook. Everyone can cook great BBQ, you just need patience and persistence! And most importantly, its not just about the BBQ, it is about family as well.
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8 Responses to 3-2-1 Ribs Method Explained

  1. Been using this method for about 10 years.. has always worked great.. over time I have made some changes and tried various differences with this method..
    you can never go really wrong with this methon

    • If boiling makes your ribs the way you like them, then by all means continue to do it. However, you won’t hear many BBQ pitmasters recommending that technique because they use the 3-2-1 method or some variation. The 2 hours in foil with liquid actually acts as a steaming/boiling method that tenderizes your rib meat.

  2. I am a firm believer in this method. I smoked 2 racks this weekend and they were tender and moist. They didn’t fall off the bone. I don’t think that they have too, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have used this method many times and get a great smoked flavor (Apple wood chips). I finished them on the grill with sweet baby rays sauce to get nice char on them. Your tips are spot on only i think a lower temp is the way to go. Slow ‘n low.

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