View Full Version : Rib Cooking Time Mystery

05-16-2011, 07:35 PM
The "fall off the bone" thread reminded me of a question I've been meaning to ask.

I've been cooking ribs for a few years now and I love the way mine come out. They are tender without falling apart; the meat pulls from the bones and leaves the bones totally bare of meat. I also would not consider my ribs as being dry.

My question is about cook time. I constantly read peoples cook times as 4 hours for BBs and a little longer for spares. Well I can't seem to cook ribs in less than 6 hours plus, usually 7 hours minimum and I average 240-260 dome temps in a WSM. I usually trim spares to St Louis, but last weekend I did some BBs for the first time in a long time and they took 7 hours.

I happen to live at 4000' elevation. So my question is, what times do you guys average for ribs and do you think 4000' elevation is enough to make a difference?

05-16-2011, 07:39 PM
Sounds about right to me. Dome temp in a WSM is a lot higher than grate level, so your probably cooking them more in the 225 range. I haven't cooked ribs that low in a few years now, but 7 hours seems right as I recall. I assume you don't foil?

Lake Dogs
05-16-2011, 07:40 PM
I dont know about the elevation. I do know that external mounted thermometers tend to be 30, 40, and as much as 50 degrees off of the cooking grate temperature. Without thermometers on the surface itself, we're guessing. My *guess* is that you're cooking around 225 to 230 surface temp.

05-16-2011, 07:40 PM
spares 4.5 to 5 hours usually

05-16-2011, 07:57 PM
Have you tried measuring the temp at the grate with a calibrated thermometer? I average about 4 1/2 hours for a typical rack of baby backs at 250 grate temp.

05-16-2011, 08:01 PM
I did six racks of BB's yesterday for 4.5 hours at 225 and they came out perfect

05-16-2011, 08:03 PM
I do mine at a bit higher temp (around 275-300) and they take me between 3.5 and 4 hours. At a lower temp, they do take longer though.

05-16-2011, 08:29 PM
Well I've been putting a probe in the top vent, hanging inside. I also don't foil. I installed a grommet at the top rack level but haven't used it yet. This weekend I'll put the probe at grate level and see what the difference in temps are between the the one hanging through the top vent and the actual grate. We'll see.

05-16-2011, 11:02 PM
I had three racks of BBs from Mars yesterday. Normally, I'm cooking around 275-300*. I was in a bit of a rush and not paying attention and the temp went to 350*. I figured I'd do them about 2-1.5-1. Unfortunately, lost track of time again and after 2 hours in the foil, I went out, expecting rib-mush. The ribs still weren't done. Basically did a bend test and they were all stiff as boards. Left me scratching my head. After another 15 minutes in foil, it was all I could do to keep them from breaking in half picking them up. They tasted fabulous, but it was one of the stranger cooking experiences. Not all pigs are equal.

05-17-2011, 12:15 AM
I did six racks of BB's yesterday for 4.5 hours at 225 and they came out perfect


05-17-2011, 08:56 AM
I did some benchmarking on both my Traegers and the Kamado Joe recently, using a modified Harry Soo method. I have St Louis spares perfect at 3.5 hours at 250. Two hours naked, 1 hour in foil, sauce, wait 15 and sauce again. Done.

Burt Gummer
05-17-2011, 09:26 AM
I do mine at a bit higher temp (around 275-300) and they take me between 3.5 and 4 hours. At a lower temp, they do take longer though.


05-17-2011, 10:00 AM
The wide variation of cooking times in this thread is hilarious!:laugh:

El Ropo
05-17-2011, 12:41 PM
I cook pretty much like wampus, does at a higher temp, and have similar cook times to his.

Pulled a smallish rack of BBs off the cooker in 3hrs, 20 min last friday night. That was cooking at 275-300ish in the UDS though.

05-17-2011, 12:44 PM
I continue to get a better understanding in concept of "its done when its done" and to use time/lb simply as a direction and not an absolute. I cooked two slabs of spares Sunday, both weighed almost identical. Cooked in the same smoker, same temps etc. One slab was ready in 4 hrs 15 minutes the other took another half hour to get to the same level of doneness. :crazy: Go figure.

05-17-2011, 01:29 PM
I never cook them over 4 hrs.

05-18-2011, 09:51 AM
One point that rarely gets posted is the size of the ribs. You could be comparing apples to oranges. If someone is cooking BB in 4 hours, are the 2 and downs and you're cooking loin backs 3 and up? Same with spares. Trimmed/St Louis or full spares. Even trimmed you could have small racks compared to heavy racks.

If it's working for you and you're happy, don't change just to be like the other guys.

Maybe they don't have your consistency?

For me, St. Louis spares, trimmed, between 3 and 3 1/4 pds a rack, 275 for 4 hours works in my FEC

05-18-2011, 11:40 AM
For some reason I feel obligated to follow up on SmokinOkie's post right above there. I find it odd that some people go by temp for determining when brisket and/or pork is done, and then time for ribs. Just weird. Meat is done when it's done, no magic temp or time exists.

El Ropo
05-18-2011, 11:48 AM
My times were based on when the ribs passed the bend test. It always varies of course depending on the amount of meat on ribs.

05-18-2011, 12:26 PM
Same as above, I always cook until they are done. I just monitor the temp to see where the cooker wants to settle in at. My cooker seems to like 260 +-10 hanging inside the dome vent. That's about 5 inches in. With this set up my ribs never get done inside 6 hours usually closer to 7. This pertains St Louis most of the time but last weekend it was meaty loin backs that took 7 hours.

I'm going to monitor the cooking grate temp and see if I'm cooking at a lower temp then you all and if so I'm going to open up the vents a little and try it out.

If that doesn't work out to the way I like it I'll go back to my method and continue to make the best ribs west of the Mississippi (and probably east of it also):boxing: