Mastering Competition-Style Barbecue Ribs in Your Backyard

May 20


Bill Anderson

Bill Anderson

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Discover the secrets to slow-smoking ribs like a pro, right in your own backyard. This guide, inspired by the Chatham Artillery BBQ Team, will walk you through the process of creating competition-quality barbecue ribs using a simple Weber kettle grill.


Creating mouth-watering barbecue ribs at home can be a daunting task,Mastering Competition-Style Barbecue Ribs in Your Backyard Articles especially when most recipes leave out crucial details like cooking times and temperatures. In our comprehensive guide, "Competition BBQ Secrets," we provide all the necessary information to help you achieve professional-level results. The best part? You don't need an expensive smoker—your trusty Weber kettle grill will do just fine.

Prepping Your Grill

Setting Up Your Weber Kettle Grill

Most backyard barbecue enthusiasts own a Weber kettle charcoal grill, which is perfect for smoking ribs. Here's how to set it up for offset smoking:

  1. Charcoal Arrangement: Create two piles of charcoal briquettes on opposite sides of the grill, away from the center.
  2. Ventilation: Ensure the bottom vents are open and free of ash.
  3. Lighting the Charcoal: Use lighter fluid or a charcoal chimney to ignite the briquettes. Wait until they turn white, indicating they are ready for smoking.
  4. Wood Chips: Soak your wood chips (mesquite, hickory, pecan, oak, apple, etc.) for at least an hour before use.
  5. Water Pan: Place a disposable aluminum pan filled with an inch of warm water or beer between the charcoal piles.

Why Mesquite?

Mesquite wood imparts a strong, distinctive flavor that can stand up to barbecue sauce. However, use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the meat.

Prepping Your Ribs

Choosing and Trimming the Ribs

You can choose between spareribs and loin back ribs (St. Louis cut). Here's how to prepare them:

  1. Trimming: If using spareribs, cut off the brisket end and trim the skirt meat. Save these trimmings for a tasty snack.
  2. Removing the Membrane: Peel off the membrane from the back of the ribs for better smoke penetration.
  3. Seasoning: Apply your favorite dry rub or keep it simple with just a bit of BBQ sauce.

Smoking the Ribs

Setting Up the Grill

  1. Grate Placement: Position the grate so that the holes near the handles are over the charcoal piles. This allows for easy addition of charcoal.
  2. Rib Rack: Use a rib rack to keep the ribs upright and away from direct heat.
  3. Adding Wood Chips: Sprinkle soaked wood chips directly on the charcoal.

Temperature Control

  1. Thermometer: Insert a thermometer through one of the vent holes to monitor the temperature near the meat.
  2. Ideal Temperature: Maintain a smoking temperature of 230-240°F. If it exceeds 300°F, crack the lid to let some heat escape.

Cooking Time

  1. Initial Smoking: Smoke the ribs for 3 hours without opening the lid.
  2. Foil Wrap: After 3 hours, wrap the ribs tightly in foil and return them to the grill for another hour.

Glazing and Finishing

Final Steps

  1. Unwrapping: After an hour in the foil, remove the ribs and place them back on the grill.
  2. Glazing: Apply your favorite BBQ sauce or a honey-cut glaze. Reapply every 15 minutes for an hour.
  3. Checking Doneness: The ribs are done when the meat pulls away from the bone, or when a slab bends at a 90° angle when lifted with tongs.

Resting and Serving

Let the ribs rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing between each bone. Enjoy the tender, flavorful, and perfectly smoked ribs that are sure to impress.

Interesting Stats

  • Barbecue Popularity: According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 75% of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker, with 63% using it year-round. Source
  • Wood Preferences: A survey by the National Barbecue Association found that hickory is the most popular wood for smoking, followed by mesquite and apple. Source
  • Competition BBQ: The Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctions over 500 barbecue competitions worldwide, highlighting the growing popularity of competitive barbecue. Source

By following these detailed steps, you can master the art of competition-style barbecue ribs in your own backyard. Happy grilling!