Ricks 3-2-1 Smoked Baby Back Ribs

3-2-1 cooking technique. 3 hours uncovered with rub to smoke the rubs, 2 hours in tin foil to tenderize the ribs, and 1 hour on the grill to create a nice bark and allows you to sauce them if you like.

In all smoking recipes, there will be tweaking of cooking times and temperatures to match your smokers specific sweet spots. There will also be tweaking to acheive your personal “Perfect Rib”. Falling off the bone, stuck to the bone, perfect amount of rub, wood smoking flavor. This recipe is more of a template to explore rather than a set-in-stone gospel to be followed.

This is an edited version of “Jeff’s Naked Rib Rub” and 2-2-1 technique from around 2010 from Smoking Meat. Jeff Phillips has amazing recipes, reviews and insights into getting beginners ready to start smoking meat.


  • The yellow mustard acts as a sticking agent for the rub and loses its mustard flavor during the smoking process.

Tools: Smoker


  • 1 baby back rib

  • Rick’s Naked Rib Rub (or your preferred rub)

  • 1/4 cup per rib of cheap yellow mustard (see notes)

  • Apple juice


  • Setup your smoker to be at 225°F for a 5-6 hour indirect cook making sure to have enough smoking wood for atleast 2-3 hours of smoke.

  • Wash the ribs thoroughly, lay on a flat surface and remove membrane.

  • With boney side up, apply a light coat of regular yellow mustard to the rubs.

  • Sprinkle enough rub on the entire surface of the meat so that you can no longer see the meat.

  • Wait a couple of minutes for the to start looking wet then very carefully and tenderly turn the slab over to a meaty side up.

  • On the meaty side, apple a light coat of reguloar yellow mustard then sprinkle enough rub to where you can no longer see the meat and wait for the “wet” appearance.

  • Place seasoned baby ricks directly on smoker grate for 3 hours.

  • At the 3 hour mark, place the baby ribs in foil, spritzing the ribs with apple juice to provide moisture.

  • Cover them with the foil and return the ribs to the smoker for 2 hours.

  • At what is now the 5 hour mark, remove the ribs from the foil. This is the perfect time to add any type of sauce you would like to your ribs.

  • After removing from tin foil (and optional sauce added), place them onto the grate to continue cooking for an additional 1 hour to firm up the bark and finish them off.