I love smoked country-style ribs even more than smoked pork ribs as they are way meatier and there are no bones to mess with while eating them. But that's not all. These country-style ribs have one of the tastiest barks you can imagine. It reminds me of the bark on brisket burnt ends - slightly charred, caramelized, crispy, smoky and full of rustic flavor.
There are a few ways to smoke country-style ribs and my favorite way, by far, is to smoke them over direct heat. You get way more flavor and an amazing million-dollar bark. Sure, when smoked over direct heat they don't come out as tender as when they are smoked over indirect heat. But what they lack in the tenderness department they fully compensate for in the flavor department.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't call them tough, they are just firmer than when cooked low and slow over indirect heat. But they are incredibly tasty. It's no surprise that the Texas Hill Country is full of barbecue joints that cook strictly over direct-heat firepits.
Seasoning country-style ribs
You don't need a lot of seasoning to get a good-tasting country-style rib. Salt, white and black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder - that's all you need. Maybe some paprika. Cooking over direct heat will add a ton more flavor.
The best results with these ribs I've had was when I measured the seasonings, especially the salt. You want it to be just right. Too little or too much salt ruins the taste. The amount of salt is very personal so feel free to modify my recipe. Measuring seasonings also lets you have consistent results from one cook to the next.
At the end of the cook, you can brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and cook for a few minutes more on each side to give them even more flavor.
Smoking Country-Style Ribs
The key to making your smoked country-style ribs tender is to cook them low and slow. It can be a little challenging if you do it over direct heat but totally doable. What you need to do is use just a little of charcoal, enough to maintain about 275F - 300F at the grate level for about 2.5 - 3 hours at the most. If the temperature gets higher, the ribs will crisp up and cook faster, and won't be as tender. Still very tasty though.
The ribs are done when a nice color begins to develop and the meat begins to break apart under the pressure of the tongs. You can smoke over charcoal with a few chunks of mesquite or hickory wood, or over wood burned down to coals as they do it in the Texas Hill Country.
Serving Smoked Country-Style Ribs
Serve them hot, straight off the smoker. They look and smell so good that it's hard to resist waiting even a few minutes anyway.
Try some of my favorite sides for these ribs:
Smoked Country-Style Ribs
- 5 lbs deboned pork butt sliced into 2" steaks and then sliced into 1.5" strips; about 8 country-style ribs
For the dry rub
- 3 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp sweet paprika
- 2 tsp black pepper coarsely ground
- 1 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated onion or onion powder
- 3/4 tsp mustard powder
To finish off
- your favorite BBQ sauce to taste
- Set up your smoker with a fairly thin layer of coals for direct heat smoking and preheat to about 275F - 300F at the grate level.
- Mix the ingredients for the dry rub.
- Apply the rub evenly on the meat strips about 30-60 minutes prior to smoking.
- Smoke over direct heat for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the bark dark turns golden brown and the meat breaks under the pressure of the tongs, flipping every 45 minutes or so. The internal temp should be around 203F - 209F. If your smoker runs a little hotter than 275F-300F at the grate level, the ribs may cook faster so check on them regularly.
- If you'd like to glaze your country-style ribs with a BBQ sauce, do that once they are done. Glaze the ribs with the BBQ sauce and cook over direct heat for a few minutes per side or until the sauce sets. Be careful as it may burn when cooking over direct heat so keep a close eye on the ribs.
- Serve hot with your favorite side dish.