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e4c6 01-09-2013 03:45 PM

Spare rib smoking questions
I'm going to give some spare ribs a shot this weekend for the first time and have a few questions. If y'all wouldn't mind helping out I'd really appreciate it.

1) I've decided to try no foil (going to keep it simple for the first time) but I don't have a feel of when ribs will be done. How do you know? Is it probe tender like brisket or something else?

2) I'm planning to cook at 250, is that a good temp?

3) I know every piece of meat cooks differently, but what's a good ballpark time for a rack of spares at 250? 4 hours? 6 hours?

4) How long to rest after pulling them off the smoker?

Thank y'all for the help.

Southstar Jeff 01-09-2013 03:48 PM

I'd recommend 275 cook temp, some will say even higher.

You can probe with a toothpick, or, I prefer the "bend test". Pick the rack up with tongs. If they bend in 90* angle, you're good.

Full racks of spare are usually about 5 hours for me.

Good luck and don't forget the pron!

The_Kapn 01-09-2013 03:48 PM

I will be interested in the answers also.


e4c6 01-09-2013 07:40 PM

Thanks for the help Jeff, much appreciated. I will provide some pron this weekend as a thank you :)

flyingbassman5 01-09-2013 10:08 PM

Spare usually run me about 5 hours running 225-250 range. I do a 3-1-1 method. 3 hour smoke, 1hr foiled, 1hr no foil then sauced. Come out perfect to my standards.

With no foil, just cook at your desired temp, again I like 225-250 for ribs, until they probe tender between the bones with a tooth pick. That will still run you 4-5 hours.

I let mine rest for about 15 minutes.

HankB 01-09-2013 10:17 PM

I'm pretty much with Jeff. I don;t cook quite that high (225-250) but I'm sure that 275 will work as well and a little faster. You will learn how your smoker works. It is entirely possible that a 275 reading on Jeff's smoker could be the same as a 250 reading on mine. The last batch I did took about 6 hours.

I don't wrap but others do and get great results. Wrapped ribs will be a little more 'fall off the bone' and if you like them that way, then wrap.

I'm sure they'll be great!

gettinbasted 01-09-2013 11:15 PM

250 is a great temp for cooking ribs. It will take 5-6 hours to get them done. I like to wrap but have done well both ways. The bend test is the best way to know when they are done. I let them rest for at least 15 minutes.

Good luck!

Bludawg 01-09-2013 11:36 PM

No lower than 275 about 4 hrs check at 3.5 90 deg on the bend test GTG.

Captain Dave 01-10-2013 04:40 AM

250 is fine... What are you cooking on?

Enkidu 01-10-2013 08:05 AM


I am reasonably new to BBQ'ing myself having started doing so only a little less than 2 years ago. One of the things that confused me at first was when I would ask a question and get a whole range of answers about things, like time & temperature. One of the reasons for that variation, I have now learned from my limited experience, is that there are many different paths that can lead to great BBQ, and ultimately there is no one right answer. What matters most is the meat being done when it is done. You asked if 250 is a good temperature to cook ribs at. Of course it is. So is 225. So is 275. It is probably okay to cook them even hotter too. Is it better to wrap or not? Yes. Both work.

To answer your questions tho, more specifically (again, based on my limited 2 year experience), 250 is the temp I usually shoot for when cooking spare ribs (or brisket, or pork butt, for that matter), but I don't sweat it if it is a little higher or lower. Around 5 hours or so seems to be a good estimate for when spares will be done at that temp. I use the bend test to determine if they are done. I generally rest ribs about 30 minutes (but, again, some will rest longer and some shorter).

At the end of the day, what really matters is how the ribs turn out for your palate and that of the people you will be serving.

jrn 01-10-2013 08:28 AM


1. Seeing as how you are new to this, I'd recommend not foiling. They'll be fine! I always use the bend test.

2. 250 is fine.

3. Untrimmed spares can take up to 5-6 hrs.

4. If you finish early, you can wrap'em so they'll stay warm. If you finish them right at eating time, you can just cut them up and serve.

Enjoy! :)

e4c6 01-10-2013 11:26 AM

Great answers from everyone, I really appreciate the help. I'll be cooking on a Kamado Joe, so it should be pretty easy to keep the temp constant.

This might be a dumb question, but could someone describe the 90 degree test a little bit? Does this basically mean if you bend them, they should be able to form a right angle? If they're not tender enough, they won't be able to bend that far, correct?

gtr 01-10-2013 11:31 AM


ScreamingChicken 01-10-2013 12:02 PM


Originally Posted by e4c6 (Post 2323877)
This might be a dumb question, but could someone describe the 90 degree test a little bit? Does this basically mean if you bend them, they should be able to form a right angle? If they're not tender enough, they won't be able to bend that far, correct?

Well, "tender enough" is a subjective term.:wink: What I usually do is to watch for the meat to shrink back about 1/4" from the rib ends and then do the first bend test. If you're willing to do a little experimentation, eat the first rack (or part of it) that reaches 45 degrees and see how you like it. Then go incrementally from there until you get a rack that bends 90 degrees; it might take you more than 1 cook to do this but you'll get a better idea of judging the ribs that're cooked the way you like.

shirknwrk 01-10-2013 01:10 PM

Pick the rack up by one end... It should bend 90°under its own weight.

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