321 Ribs Recipe | Easy Fall of the Bone Smoked Ribs

321 Ribs On The Pellet Grill

The 321 method of cooking pork ribs is one of the most tried and true ways to get a consistent fall-off-the-bone rack of ribs for any new or experienced pitmaster.

321 Ribs Recipe

Preparing 321 Ribs on the smoker is our preferred way to make juicy and tender ribs. However, you can follow this method on a gas grill for equally delicious results. We recommend using either baby back ribs or St Louis Style ribs for this recipe to get the best quality results.

For fall-off-the-bone ribs to rival some of the world’s top BBQ restaurants, read on:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 185º F (85° C)
  2. Prepare your ribs by trimming excess fat & removing the rib membrane
  3. Season your ribs with Pork Ribs Rub
  4. Place your ribs on the smoker (bone-side down) for 3 hours, spraying apple juice halfway through.
  5. Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil along with some apple juice
  6. Place the ribs back on the smoker (meat side down) for another 2 hours
  7. Flip your ribs inside the aluminum foil, add your favorite BBQ sauce to the meat side, and return to the smoker for 1 more hour
  8. Remove your ribs from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

How To Make 321 Ribs

The 321 method perfectly breaks down your pork ribs to give you juicy, tender, and fall-off-the-bone ribs packed with flavor. The idea is simple: Cook for 3 hours, flip, soak and cover for 2 hours and flip again with sauce for 1 hour, then you’re done.

Recipe Overview

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
  • Wood Flavour: Applewood
  • Cooking Temperature: 185º F (85° C) and 225º F (107° C)
  • Servings: 2 people

Required Tools

  • Smoker
  • Aluminum foil
  • BBQ tongs
  • Liquid spray bottle
  • Meat thermometer

Ingredients

  • 2 Racks of baby back ribs or St Louis Style ribs
  • Pork Ribs Rub or your own choice of rub
  • 1 Cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 Cup of apple juice (or apple cider vinegar)

Making 321 Ribs

  1. Preheat your smoker to 185º F (85° C0
  2. Prepare your ribs by trimming excess fat & removing rib membrane
  3. Season your ribs with Pork Ribs Rub
  4. Place your ribs on the smoker (bone-side down) for 3 hours, spraying apple juice halfway through.
  5. Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil along with some apple juice
  6. Place the ribs back on the smoker (meat side down) for another 2 hours at a higher temperature of 225º F (107° C)
  7. Flip your ribs inside the aluminum foil, add your favorite BBQ sauce to the meat side, and return to the smoker for 1 more hour
  8. Remove your ribs from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving
321 Ribs
321 Ribs

Making 321 Ribs

1 – Preheat Smoker

Preheat your smoker to 185º F (85° C) and prepare your wood chips. We recommend applewood for this recipe, but cherry and oak are also good options for smoking ribs too.


2 – Prepare Your Ribs

Before you begin cooking your ribs, you should prepare them by trimming excess fat & removing the rib membrane. This ensures that you’re only getting the best possible flavors soaking into the meat when you’re smoking your ribs.


3 – Season Your Ribs

Seasoning meat allows you to exercise a lot of creativity. This part of the recipe will add the most flavor to your meal, so you must be generous with your seasoning. We recommend seasoning your ribs with Pork Ribs Rub, though you’re welcome to use any rub.


4 – First Round of Smoking

Place your ribs on the smoker, bone-side down, for 3 hours. Halfway through, at around the 1.5-hour mark, spray apple juice generously onto the ribs using your spray bottle.


6 – Wrap & Soak

Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap them in aluminum foil, meat-side down. Add a generous amount of apple juice or apple cider vinegar. This allows the ribs to soak up the liquid, resulting in juicy, tender meat.

Increase the temperature of the smoker to 255º F (123° C).


7 – Second Round of Smoking

Place the ribs back on the smoker, this time meat side down in the foil, for another 2 hours.


8 – Third Round of Smoking

Remove the ribs from the heat and flip them inside the aluminum foil so they’re meat side up again; add your favorite BBQ sauce to the meat and return to the smoker for one more hour.


9 – Rest & Serve

Remove the ribs from the heat and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Ribs can be a substantial meal so pair with something light like Smoked Corn on the Cob and a Ceasar Salad with bacon bits.

321 Ribs FAQs

What Temperature Should I Cook 321 Ribs At?

The best temperature to cook ribs low and slow is 185º F (85° C) for the first part and 225º F (107° C) for the remaining time. This allows the ribs to cook slowly, giving them a tender texture and smoky flavor.


What Is The 321 Rule For Ribs?

The 321 rule for ribs has 3 steps. First, smoke your pork ribs for 3 hours. Then wrap in foil and smoke for another 2 hours with an added liquid like apple juice. Finally, cover in BBQ sauce and smoke for 1 final hour.


Are 321 Ribs Good?

321 ribs are amazing! They are tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone ribs that are a hit every single time.


Can You Use The 321 Method for Beef Ribs?

No, the 321 ribs method does not work for beef ribs. Beef ribs are much larger and take more time to fully cook. We recommend reading our Smoked Beef Short Ribs recipe for exactly how to smoke beef ribs.


Why Are My 321 Ribs Dry?

If your ribs end up being dry, you may not have added enough liquid in the second smoke stage after wrapping the meat in foil. It’s also important to ensure you have a source of moisture in your grill anytime you’re smoking something.


Can You Smoke Ribs Too Long?

Yes, you can smoke ribs too long. Smoking ribs too long will make them rubbery and eventually fall apart. If you follow the recipe and its timings exactly, your 321 ribs should be tender and perfectly cooked.