How to Smoke Pork Ribs Using the 3-2-1 Method

How to Smoke Pork Ribs Using the 3-2-1 Method

If you’re a fan of BBQ ribs, you’ve likely heard of the 3-2-1 method of cooking. The 3-2-1 method is one of the most popular ways to cook pork ribs because it gives such tender, flavorful results, but not everyone agrees on how it should be done. As the experts in all things pellet grills, we’re here to clear up exactly how to smoke pork ribs using the 3-2-1 method so you can get delicious pork ribs every time.

  1. What is the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs?
  2. How to Smoke Pork Ribs Using the 3-2-1 Method, Step-by-Step

What is the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs?

The 3-2-1 method is super simple, here is the basic methodology:

  1. You smoke the ribs for 3 hours
  2. You essentially steam the ribs for 2 hours in foil
  3. You cook for a further hour uncovered to crisp up the outside and give you a sticky sauce if desired.

To get the perfect results for your 3-2-1 method pork ribs, follow the steps below.

How to Smoke Pork Ribs Using the 3-2-1 Method, Step-by-Step

  • Remove the silvery membrane from your rack of ribs. This can be more difficult than it looks, so take it slow, use paper towel to keep hold of the membrane, and use a blunt knife to work the membrane off of the ribs in areas it doesn’t simply peel away.
  • Season your ribs as preferred. Alternatively, marinate your ribs. If you’re looking for a great recipe, check out our rib recipes here .
  • Set up your pellet grill and set it to 225F. When it reaches temperature, add your ribs bone-side down (so the bone is touching the grill) and leave it to smoke for 3 hours. It’s best to place it bone-side down so the meat will retain the flavors better, and the juices will pool in the rib meat, rather than draining away.
  • Remove the ribs and wrap them in aluminum foil, leaving one side open.
  • Pour in your preferred liquid. This can be water but for the best flavor use apple juice, apple cider, beer, bourbon, or whatever your recipe calls for. Seal the ribs in the foil completely.
  • Return the ribs to your grill in the foil and allow it to continue cooking for 2 hours. Try to place them bone-side down again, but don’t panic if you don’t or can’t because the ribs are sealed inside the aluminum.
  • Remove the ribs again, and remove them from the foil. Bush the ribs with barbeque sauce or whatever your recipe calls for, and return it to the grill. When there are just 15 minutes left to go, up the temperature to 275F if you want stickier results.
  • Remove the ribs, and allow them to sit. When they’re cool enough to eat, serve and enjoy!
  • Not everyone follows these steps, so if your own process evolves over time and differs from the classic 3-2-1 method, that’s okay. Grilling is all about finding what works for you, so tweak and try new recipes until you find a process that hits your sweet spot. If you don’t like your meat to fall off the bone, shorten the time you “steam” your pork for to see if that gives you results you prefer. If you’re looking for new recipes to try, we’ve got a huge database under the recipes tab, but you can find our rib recipes here .