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Easy 3-2-1 Ribs Recipe

Recipe for competition style smoked pork ribs, and an explanation of the “3-2-1 Method” of smoking ribs.
Course Entree
Cuisine BBQ, Barbecue, competition barbecue
Keyword 3 2 1 ribs, bbq ribs recipe, competition smoked ribs, how to smoke pork ribs, smoked pork rib recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 338kcal
Cost $30.00


For the Ribs:

For the Spritz:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water (or apple juice)

For the Wrap (at the 3 hour mark):

  • 4 tablespoons butter (2 per rack)
  • ¼ cup honey (2 tablespoons per rack. Agave nectar is a great alternative as well.)
  • 2 tablespoons spritz (from above), To lightly spray prior to wrapping

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup Barbecue Sauce * You may not use all of the bbq sauce. You're just glazing it on both sides of each rack.


For Prep:

  • Preheat smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (we like cherry and apple).
  • Trim excess fat off the ribs and remove the membrane off the bone side of the ribs using a paper towel (it is slippery).
  • Pat ribs dry with a paper towel, and then coat both sides of ribs with the Dijon mustard. Apply the dry rub to both sides.

To Smoke The Ribs

  • Place ribs, meat side pointing up, on the smoker. Plan to smoke for about three hours. Start spritzing 90 minutes into the smoke and then spritz every 30 minutes.
  • After the third hour, take 2 long strips of aluminum foil. Place ribs on them bone side down. 
  • On top of the ribs, add the butter and agave nectar evenly over the meat side of the ribs (1 tablespoon of butter and nectar per rib, per side) and then wrap the ribs tightly. Place back onto the smoker, meat side down, for two more hours.
  • After the end of this second hour, remove ribs from foil gently. The meat should be tender and bones showing. Place the ribs back on the smoker, meat side up, and glaze with your barbecue sauce. Cook one more hour, uncovered, (the last hour helps set the meat and give more flavor). Remove. When you remove after this last hour, glaze one last time before serving, then slice and serve.



Seasoning: You can use any mustard, it's meant to help the rub stick to the ribs. For the rub, we like rubs with a balance of salt and sweet. You can also do this with a simple salt and pepper rub as well.
For the Spritz: Combine the liquids into a food safe spray bottle. 
Modifications: The 3-2-1 method is a great starting place to find your balance of flavor and texture. You can adjust this ratio any way you like from 4 - 2, or even less time. Some will argue that the ratio will overcook the ribs. Technically that's a preference for you. Play around with ratios that work for your palate.


Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 705mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 418IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg