Competition Style BBQ Spare Ribs

Placing second in Kansas City BBQ Society national final, this recipe for BBQ spare ribs by T-Mac Smokin’ BBQ Team will spice up any summer cook out.
June 01, 2015


  1. ​​​​​Trim the spare ribs St. Louis style by squaring them up and cutting the rib tips and brisket portion off or purchase them already cut/trimmed by your butcher. I look for thick, well marbled ribs with straight bones and no “shiners” (exposed bones on “meat side” of rib and caused from being trimmed too close). After they are trimmed square, remove the membrane from the back side.  Using a paper towel, grab the skin between the first and second bone and carefully peel to remove. Here is a site that shows “St. Louis Style” trimming ribs.
  2. Rub your ribs with bbq rub. Apply a light sprinkle on the backside with bbq rub. Flip rib over and apply a heavier solid coat on the meat side of the rib. Let rub sit 45 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Light smoker/grill and run at 235-240 degrees. If you do not have a temperature- controlled smoker, the use of a digital thermometer with probes is a big help in controlling temperature. Set the probe in your cooking chamber and adjust your airflow to hold temp as close as possible to 235-240. Add your smoke chips/chunks/pellets for your smoke. I use 100% hickory pellets. Hickory, cherry and hard maple and or a combination of the three are good local wood for ribs. Do not over apply wood chunks/chips, the wood smoke is meant to kiss the meat and not create a bitter taste. 
  4. When rub has set 45 minutes and cooker is at temp, place ribs on grill meat side up. 
  5. After 45 minutes spritz with a spray bottle of apple juice every 15 minutes.
  6. After three hours wrap the ribs in foil as follows. 
  7. Use two pieces of heavy duty foil large enough to completely wrap each rib rack. On foil place two ribbons of honey and an 1/8-cup of brown sugar sprinkled evenly creating a honey brown sugar bed and then place the ribs meat-side down in the bed. Now on the bone side of each rib, which is now facing up, add three ribbons of honey, 1/8-cup brown sugar and then a half of stick of butter cut into small pieces and placed evenly on the length of rib. Make a boat out of each foil pack so the apple juice does not run out and pour in 1/3-cup of apple juice on each rib in the foil rib pack. Wrap each rib tightly in the foil with the meat side remaining down and the foil seams up to retain juices and then place back on grill.
  8. Check ribs after 1.5 hours on grill and look for bones exposed. Use a toothpick or meat temp probe to check for doneness … if it goes through without resistance they are done or if they are at 203 – 208 degrees, they are done.
  9. Take each of the rib foil packs out of smoker and pour off the juice, leave the ribs in foil, carefully flip over and brush sauce on back side and then place back in foil meat side up again. Sprinkle lightly with some more rub and return with foil open to the grill and let rub set for 5 minutes. After five minutes remove ribs and brush on your sauce and close up foil loosely tenting the ribs so that heat from the meat will set the sauce. Do not put them back on the grill. After sauce has set 8-10 minutes, cut ribs into individual bones and enjoy…Congratulations- you are now the best rib cook on the block. 

– T-Mac

This recipe is courtesy of the T-Mac Smokin’ BBQ Team that placed second in Kansas City BBQ Society national final and was spotlighted in the summer issue of Edible Door magazine.


  • 4 racks St. Louis Style trimmed spare ribs
  • Approximately 6-8 ounces of your favorite bbq rub (adjust actual amount to saltiness of your rub). (I recommend 6-8 ounces of The Executioner Sweet Heat Rub from
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 sticks of Wisconsin butter
  • Door County honey- other honey will work too
  • 1 and 1/3 cup Door County apple cider/juice- other apple juice will work too
  • Favorite Sauce- I recommend A Fine Swine Sauce or Freeman Brothers Sauce (both from Wisconsin) or Eat BBQ IPO sauce; all available from
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