There’s something special about cooking in the smoker that gets the tastebuds going. One of the most popular things to smoke in this household is ribs and these Sweet & Smoky Whisky Smoked Ribs are a great example of a simple but delicious recipe anyone can make.
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What You Need to Know to Make the Perfect Smoked Ribs
Using a smoker takes a bit of practice but for the most part, as long as you follow the “low and slow” rule of thumb and keep an eye on things, you shouldn’t have too difficult of a time. To get you started, here are a few things you need to consider when using your smoker to prepare smoked ribs. While I personally use a basic smoker with chips and chunks of wood as opposed to a pellet-fed smoker, the same general rules apply.
- Use your water pan to keep the temperature in your smoker even. For pretty much everything, it’s best to aim for about 225 degrees when smoking, no matter the meat. The water pan has a large number of benefits which you can read more about here.
- To maximize the smoke, soak your wood chips for about 30 minutes before starting the smoker. Once you do start it, wait for the smoker to start producing smoke (usually 10 minutes or so) before adding the food.
- Keep your smoker out of windy areas if possible as the wind can play havoc with your temperatures. I have mine blocked between two sheds which keeps the wind from reaching it, for instance.
- Apply a rub or marinade a few hours (or longer) before smoking to let the marinade or rub seep in. You will typically get better flavor this way.
How long does it take to smoke ribs at 225 degrees?
Typically, you should expect to smoke your ribs for upwards of 6 hours. If you are using a marinade or basting the ribs, apply it every hour or so and you should end up with a delicious rack of smoked ribs when they are finished. I usually start mine around 10 am or so if I am planning to eat dinner around 4-5 pm.
How do you know your when ribs are done?
Normally, if you smoke them for 6 hours or so, they should be fine but it’s important to always measure the internal temperature. I personally prefer to use a Thermapen (digital thermometer) to measure meat as it gives very accurate results and a faster reading (whereas using a standard thermometer can take some time and your smoker will be losing heat in the process. If you are in the US, you can use this safe internal temperature guide from the USDA to gauge the readiness of your food. The ribs should also fall apart easily when done, so gauge accordingly.
With this recipe, I recommend keeping some of the marinade aside so that you can use it to baste the ribs throughout the cooking process. Typically, I tend to do so once an hour or so but the timing isn’t finite so if you forget once or twice, it’s not a huge deal. I do recommend doing them as much as you can to keep the flavor up, however.
When the ribs are done, you should have something beautiful like the picture below. Our kids absolutely demolish smoked ribs so we tend to spend quite a bit of the summer (and something even winter) running the smoker to keep the ribs coming!
If you don’t have a smoker, these can also be done on the BBQ or in the oven, you just won’t get the smoked taste from the wood chips but the sauce is spectacular either way! If you are wanting to try a dry rub for ribs, try our Sweet & Smoky Dry Rub for Ribs.
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Sweet and Smoky Whisky Smoked Ribs
- Prep Time
- 10 minutes
- Cook Time
- 6 hours
- Total Time
- 6 hours 10 minutes
- Main Course
- Karlynn Johnston
- 1 rack baby back ribs
- 1/4 cup BBq sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple whiskey ( Jim Beam) sub in apple juice if wanted
- Add marinade to ribs, keeping a small amount aside for basting and place ribs in a plastic bag to marinade for a few hours in the fridge before smoking.
- Fill up and add water pan to smoker.
- Soak wood chips (we used hickory) in water for 30 minutes, then add to smoker.
- Start smoker and raise temperature to 225 degrees.
- Wait for smoke to start and then add ribs.
- Using remaining marinade, baste ribs hourly. The smoke will run out as the chips will burn completely, do not add more. You simply need to smoke it at the beginning and then let them cook for a long time.
- Smoke at 225 for up to 6 hours and cooked to a safe temperature. ( 165 °F ) The ribs will reach this temperature early on, to get fall-off-the-bone meat you have to cook them longer and allow the meat fibers to dissolve further.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.