St. Louis Ribs

St. Louis Ribs

Prep Time: 5 Hours
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Serves 8-12 People


  • 4 racks spare ribs
  • 1 recipe Rib Marinade
  • 3 cups Jack’s Old South Original Rub or 1 recipe Basic Barbecue Rub
  • 1 recipe Rib Spritz
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 recipe Hog Glaze


What you’ll need:

  • A cutting board
  • Sharp boning knife or paring knife
  • Paper towels or clean kitchen towels


One at a time, place the slabs of spareribs on the cutting board, bone side down. trim off the excess fat from the first three ribs. Turn the slab over. Peel off the thick membrane (or “silver,” as it’s sometimes called) that covers the ribs. This silver prevents rubs and other seasonings from adhering to the rib rack and doesn’t allow a marinade or smoke to penetrate the meat, so it’s important to get rid of it. The easiest way to remove the membrane is by making a small incision just below the length of the breastbone. Work your fingers underneath the membrane until you have 2 to 3 inches cleared. Grab the membrane with a towel (which just gives you a better purchase on it) and gently but firmly pull it away from the ribs. Pulling off the membrane exposes loose fat that will need trimming, so take your knife and cut out any excess fat.

The last step is doing the “St. Louis cut,” which ensures that the ribs will be uniform in size. Use your boning knife to separate the ribs from the breastbone: Pick the longest bone near the breastbone and use it as a guideline of where to make a horizontal cut along the length of the slab. You should end up with two slabs of ribs that are 5 or 6 in in length. They won’t be curved like the baby backs-that’s not how these bones are; they’re straight up.

After the ribs are properly trimmed, set the racks in an aluminum baking pan and cover them completely with the rib marinade. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and let it sit for 4 hours, either in the refrigerator or, if you’re at a contest or in a picnic situation, in a cooler packed with ice.

When you are ready to cook them, remove the ribs from the marinade. Pat them dry with towels. Apply the rub lightly around the edges of the ribs, over the back side of them, and on top. Then let the ribs sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put the ribs in a baking pan, put it in the smoker, and cook for 3 hours. After the first 45 minutes of cooking, spritz the ribs. Continue to spritz at 15-minute intervals for the duration of the cooking time. (The ribs should be uncovered so they can absorb as much smoke as possible.)

Remove the pan from the smoker. Pour the apple juice into a clean aluminum pan. Place the ribs in the pan, bone side down, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the smoker and cook for 2 hours.

Remove the pan from the smoker and shut off the heat on the smoker. Remove the foil, and apply the glaze to the top and bottom of the slabs of ribs. Re-cover the pan with foil, return it to the smoker, and let the ribs rest in the smoker for 1 hour as the temperature gradually decreases. 

Remove the ribs from the pan and let them rest for 10 minutes on a wooden cutting board. Then cut and serve.

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