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How Long To Smoke Ribs at 300 & 350: Cranking Up The Heat

When you’re smoking ribs, a low temperature is the way to go. 225 to 275 degrees is the norm, but is it possible to speed things up by going a bit higher? Let’s talk about how long to smoke ribs at 300 and 350 degrees without ruining the texture of the dish.

How Long To Smoke Ribs at 300 and 350 Degrees

When you set the smoker to 300 degrees, it will take about 2.5 to 3 hours to smoke a rack of spare ribs. Baby backs might take even less time on account of their smaller size and leaner texture. At 350 degrees, baby back ribs should be done within a 2-hour window.

Why Do Ribs Take So Long To Cook?

Pork ribs contain a lot of connective tissue and fat. This gives the meat a ton of flavor, but it also means they need to cook for a long time in order to break down the collagen and render the fat. Otherwise, the meat will be chewy and tough.

Fortunately, smoking ribs doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. You can crank up the temperature to 300 or even 350 degrees and wind up with ribs that are moist and tender. It will still take a couple of hours, but the results should be impressive as long as you’ve followed the instructions.

Understanding Rib Types

The total cooking time may vary, depending on what kind of ribs you buy.

A rack of spare ribs usually weighs 3 to 4 pounds. Taken from the underside of the rib cage, these ribs are characterized by their rich, meaty texture and strong pork flavor.

When a spare rib rack is trimmed to remove the sternum and lower cartilage, it’s transformed into a rack of St. Louis-style ribs. These have the same flavor and texture, but they’re easier to handle and have more eye appeal. The cartilage that’s removed from the rack may be sold separately as “rib tips.”

Kansas City-style ribs are another form of trimmed spare ribs, but the cartilage is usually attached. The term “Kansas City-style” may also refer to the sticky tomato-based sauce that chefs add during cooking.

Pork loin back ribs, also known as “baby back ribs,” come from the top portion of the rib cage. They’re smaller than spare ribs, with a defined curvature where the rack was connected to the spine. A single rack weighs about 2 to 2.5 pounds. Although there’s typically plenty of meat on the bone, these ribs are also leaner than spares.

How To Tell When Ribs Are Done

Your goal is to smoke the ribs until they’ve reached an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit. During the resting period, the temp should rise to 200-205, which should give them the ideal texture.

When the ribs are done, the exterior should be deep mahogany in color. This comes about as a result of the spice rub caramelizing with the fat and protein in the meat. However, it’s possible for them to achieve this color before the meat has cooked through. That’s why you should make sure they’ve cooked to the ideal temperature before taking them off the heat.

The toothpick test is a quick way to check whether the ribs are approaching doneness. Insert a toothpick into the center of the rib rack, in the meaty section between two ribs. It should slide in and out as easily as if you’d inserted it into a stick of butter. If you meet with any resistance, the ribs need to stay in the smoker a bit longer.

You can also lift one end of the rib rack with a pair of sturdy tongs and bounce it gently up and down on the grate. When a fissure appears in the center of the ribs, they should be ready to go.

How Long To Smoke Ribs at 300 Degrees

If you opt to smoke the ribs at 300 degrees, we would suggest using the Texas crutch. This means wrapping the ribs in foil for the second part of the cook. The meat will essentially braise inside the foil wrapper, getting you to the finish line that much more quickly.

Note that while butcher paper is usually a solid alternative to foil, we don’t recommend it in this case. It won’t trap the steam as effectively as foil will, so the cooking process will take longer.

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of spare ribs or St. Louis-style ribs (3 to 4 pounds)
  • Prepared yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon apple juice
  • Brown sugar, to taste
  • Honey, to taste
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce (optional)

For the Spice Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Prepare the spice rub by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Set the ribs on a clean work surface with the bones facing up. Check to see whether the butcher has removed the membrane from the rack. If not, use your fingers or a blunt knife to help you pull off and discard the membrane.

3. Trim away any excess fat, if desired. Pat the rib rack dry with paper towels.

4. Slather the rack all over with mustard, then add the spice rub, pressing to make sure the mixture sticks to the ribs.

5. Place the ribs in the fridge and set the smoker to 300 degrees.

6. When the smoker is ready, place the rib rack on the grill with the meaty side facing up. Close the lid and smoke the ribs for 1.5 hours.

7. While the ribs are cooking, prepare the foil wrapper. Set two sheets of heavy-duty foil on a large work surface. Add about half the butter, a sprinkling of brown sugar, a drizzle of honey, and the apple juice to the top layer of foil.

8. When the ribs have been on the smoker for 1.5 hours, take them off the heat and place them on top of the prepared foil, bone side up. Add the rest of the butter and a bit more honey and brown sugar to the bone side of the rib rack. Wrap the ribs in the foil and seal the ends tightly.

9. Return the ribs to the smoker for 45 minutes to 1 hour. At this point, they should be approaching the target temperature of 195 degrees.

10. Take the ribs back off the smoker and discard the foil wrapper. If you’d like, slather the rack with your favorite barbecue sauce.

11. Let the ribs cook for 10-15 minutes more to crisp up the bark and allow the sauce to set.

12. Remove the rack from the smoker and let the ribs rest for 10-15 minutes before serving with additional sauce on the side.

How Long To Smoke Ribs at 350 Degrees

This recipe calls for baby back ribs, as the lean meat will be better able to withstand the higher temperature. Note that we’ve used the Texas crutch for this recipe as well, which should help reduce the cooking time even further.

Ingredients

  • 2 racks baby back ribs (about 4 to 5 pounds)
  • Prepared yellow or Dijon mustard
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce (optional)

For the Spice Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

1. Make the spice rub. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

2. Prepare the ribs by setting them on a clean work surface with the bone side facing up. Remove and discard the membrane, if necessary, and pat the ribs dry with paper towels.

3. Coat the ribs in mustard and add the spice rub. Set the ribs in the fridge to allow the rub to set.

4. Preheat the smoker to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. When the smoker is ready, add the rib racks to the grill with the meat side facing up. Close the lid and smoke the ribs for 1 hour.

6. At the 1-hour mark, take the ribs off the smoker. Wrap them in a double layer of aluminum foil, then return them to the heat.

7. Continue to smoke the ribs until they’ve achieved an internal temp of 195 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour.

8. Remove the foil wrapper and let the ribs cook over direct heat for 10-15 minutes longer. At this point, you can brush the ribs with barbecue sauce, if desired.

9. Let the ribs rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.

The Bottom Line

If you’re pressed for time when preparing smoked ribs, you can compensate by ramping up the smoker temperature for the duration of the cook. Remember that baby back ribs will cook more quickly, so try to go with those if you still have a choice regarding which kind to buy.

Happy grilling!