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The 321 Ribs Method Explained - Smoked Ribs

The 321 Ribs Method Explained - Smoked Ribs

The 321 Ribs Method Explained

The 3-2-1 ribs BBQ method is easily one of the most popular ways to cook ribs, and in our opinion, it’s the best. However, it has also stirred controversy in the BBQ community due to differing opinions and variations of the method, so we decided to set things straight and show you how to cook ribs.

  • 3 - Hours of Smoke
  • 2 - Hours in Foil
  • 1 - Hour Unwrapped to Finish

It’s as easy as 3-2-1, this classic method for cooking ribs will soon be your new favorite—if it isn’t already.

1) Remove the Silver Skin

Remove the silverskin membrane from the bone-side of the ribs. Use a butter knife and work the tip underneath the membrane over a middle bone. Grab the skin with a paper towel and tear the membrane off in one clean sweep.

2) Season on Both Sides

Next, season both sides of the ribs generously with Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub or with your rub of choice.

3) Smoke for 3 Hours

Let your Traeger do the work: This is where 3-2-1 comes into play, the "3" is for the three hours you envelop your ribs in flavorful smoke.

Set the grill temperature to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat with the lid closed, for 15 minutes.

Place the ribs meat-side up on the grill.

Smoke the ribs for three hours, or when your thermometer tells you that the internal temperature of the ribs has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

4) Wrap in foil

When you’ve laid some serious smoke on those pork ribs (after 3 hours) it’s time to wrap them up. The "2" is for two hours of low 'n' slow cooking.

You'll raise the temperature slightly, helping the fat and connective tissues in the ribs break down, and adding flavor and juiciness.

Take the ribs off the grill and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.

  • Raise the grill temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Tear off two long pieces of foil.

  • Place the ribs atop one sheet of foil. Sprinkle on some sweet brown sugar and douse them in honey.

  • Pull up the foil edges to prevent liquid from sneaking out.

  • Place the other sheet of foil over the ribs and crimp the edges of the two pieces of foil together tightly to prevent leakage.

  • Return the ribs back on the grill at 225 degrees for an additional 2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 205℉.

5) Brush with Sauce

After two hours, remove the ribs from the foil and brush both sides with Traeger BBQ Sauce or your sauce of choice. The "1" is for an hour or less where your ribs will develop that rich mahogany color you’ve only seen in your BBQ dreams.

Place those beauties back on the grill for another hour until the sauce tightens.

The sugar in BBQ sauce caramelizes and can burn the ribs if it’s heated for too long so keep an eye out.

6) 321 Variations

Of course not everyone likes to follow the rules and here at Traeger and we celebrate that. Our pitmaster’s even have their own variations of the method. Check out their tips below.

Pit Boss Chad Tip:

I like to start out at 225 degrees for 3 hours, then I wrap the ribs in foil with butter, brown sugar and agave. I then put them back on the grill and turn up the temperature to 250 degrees; I check them after an hour and a half and am looking for a final internal temperature of 205 degrees.

That’s the great thing about BBQ, it’s totally and completely yours. You are the master of your own flavor. Make it great and make it yours.

Get the full recipe for these 3-2-1 St Louis Ribs. This recipe is an alternative recipe based on the original Traeger 3-2-1 Baby Back Ribs recipe.

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