Does Smoking At High Temp Create Tender Ribs?

by Rick
(Baton Rouge)

I have been smoking St Louis & Baby Back Ribs this Spring at low temp of 225F from 4 to 6 hours and can never get the tender pull off the bones result.

I use a dry rub, water pan, spritz the ribs every 30 minutes with an apple juice/water/vinegar recipe to help keep the ribs moist, and even tried a sauce mop 1 hr. before removing them.

Question: I recently reviewed a recipe from a well-known chef that says smoke ribs for 1 hr. at 450F and sauce mop for 10 additional minutes.
Will this produce juicy tender ribs?

I understand smoking low and slow provides a deep smoke ring and flavor, but I am willing to try anything to get tender ribs.

The ribs pictured look great, but they are not tender.


Agreed Rick, your ribs look great! In short, smoking at high temperature won't give you the tender fall off the bone texture that you are looking.

The tenderness comes mostly from the long low and slow cooking process that breaks down the connective tissues in the ribs and this happens typically when you hit a meat temperature of 180 - 190°F but you can't force the issue by running your smoker at a higher temperature.

Here's a couple of things that I would do differently.

  1. Spray my ribs only near the end - doing it more often than
    this will be affecting the temperature in your smoker and so preventing the ribs from hitting the temp that they need to. In addition, the spray will act like sweat and the ribs will use their internal heat to evaporate the spray and so reduce the meat temperature.

    Don't worry about your ribs being dry, as the connective tissues break down they moisturize the meat.

  2. Use sugar (and not salt) in the rub. Sugar is a natural tenderizer whereas salt only serves to toughen meat. Add salt near the end of the cookout.

  3. I know you haven't said that you did or didn't do this but remember to take the membrane off the bone side of the ribs. The membrane acts as a barrier to smoke flavor and is chewy to eat. Get a knife under one corner and separate the membrane from the meat and when you have a leaf to grab hold, use kitchen towel to get a good grip and pull back the membrane.

  4. Cook at about 200 - 225°F (you can go lower if you want)

  5. Use a thermometer, and keep an eye on the temperature of the meat and don't be afraid to smoke for longer than the usual 4 hour prescription. The absolute minimum temperature that you ribs should reach is 165°F

See Also:-

My Complete Guide To Ribs

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Jul 09, 2020
Also failing low and slow
by: Newbie smoker

I've been having same problem. Used the 3-2-1 approach but still can't get to anything close to fall off the bone.
First two tries were with membrane on but no membrane on 3rd try and same results.
First two tries watching temp but temps seemed inconsistent because hard to avoid getting probe close to bone.
Kept door closed except to open and foil/beer then open at hour 5.
Any thoughts?
Wants to combo high temp/ then low smoke.
She used to succeed very well with 400 plus in oven for two hours or more but I'd like to make new smoker work.

Jul 06, 2012
tender ribs
by: Anonymous

Use less smoke and resist the urge to open the smoker to spray them every 15 minutes.

Throw wood chips or chunks for smoke once after the first hour and again after the second hour. Then stop.

After three hours, wrap the ribs in foil after giving them a good spray with the juice or beer or whatever (I use beer, Tabasco, vinegar and balsamic).

Return the wrapped ribs to the smoker; they'll produce steam and become very tender after an hour or so. Take them out of the foil, apply bbq sauce and grill them on direct heat for a minute or two each side to caramelize the sauce.

Take them off the grill/smoker, return them to foil and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. It took me a while to figure out that the less you play with the ribs on the smoker the more tender they become. Quit opening and messing with the damn thing.

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