Culinary Arts

Smoke: Pork Ribs

Aaron Franklin

Lesson time 34:01 min

Though best known for his brisket, Aaron is a stickler when it comes to ribs. Learn his tried-and-true process for trimming, smoking, and slicing saucy, moist spare ribs in this intermediate-level cook.

Aaron Franklin
Teaches Texas-Style BBQ
Aaron Franklin teaches you how to fire up flavor-packed Central Texas barbecue, including his famous brisket and more mouth-watering smoked meat.
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[THEME MUSIC] - No matter what skill level you have with barbecue, I think it's of cool to do some stuff that's maybe outside of your comfort zone, but also it's cool to do some easier stuff, like, for practice, if you will. I think spareribs are somewhere in the middle, like intermediate range. I think a lot of times people will just throw ribs on. It's like, oh, just cook them. They're going to be fine. But the truth is, they're really, really finicky. But at the same time, they're also easy. So I think this is right in the middle. You always want to come up with a plan. That way, if you're falling short, if you're getting tired, if it starts to rain, if whatever is going on you, can go reference that. Because a lot of times, you know, you'd be surprised at how fatigue actually sets in. So for this rack of ribs, I want these little guys to come off about 2:00 PM, give or take 20 minutes or so. So I'm gonna start off. I'm just gonna write "at 2:00 PM, off." The whole cook is going to take about six hours. So then I'm gonna fill in the gap. Six hours back from there is gonna be 8:00 AM. And that's gonna be my on time. And then a real standard way to cook ribs isn't exactly how I do it, but a lot of times people do what's called the 3, 2, 1. So that's three hours on, two hours wrapped, one hour unwrapped. I typically like to go about three hours. So when I wrap these things in foil, it's gonna be three hours in, and that is gonna be at 11:00. So then that gives me plenty of time. Most likely, these ribs are gonna come off early, but you'd always rather be looking at it instead of waiting for it. You don't want a bunch of hungry people around. So start off at 8:00. Then we're gonna go over here. And that's gonna be my wrap time. These are the bullet points that I'm looking to hit for this timeline. But really, most of the stuff is gonna be in the very beginning. It's gonna be watching the edging, working the fire just right, making sure that the surface gets colored just the way it should. Most people, if you're gonna go to the trouble to make a list or make kind of an outline of what you're gonna do, I think it's pretty cool to keep this. I have notebooks on notebooks of cooks that I've done in various regions, different weather, rain, cold, all this different stuff, different breeds, different thicknesses, all this stuff. I think when you're trying to learn and you're trying to figure it out, it's always kind of nice to take notes. Because at the end of the cook, you'll probably take this, and you might write down what temperature you were cooking at. You might write down that you wrapped 30 minutes late. But once you collect all this data, then after you eat them, you can go back and you can see if maybe a rib was two fatty, if maybe it was overcooked. You can hone in on what your outline was saying. So I think it's useful to save this stuff, collect the data, and just make yourself better. [MUSIC PLAYING] Let...

The art of smoke and fire

Once a backyard hobbyist, Aaron Franklin is now the James Beard Award-winning owner of Franklin Barbecue, where the line for his famous smoked brisket is hours long. Now the Central Texas barbecue specialist teaches you his meticulous low and slow process for mouth-watering ribs, pork butt, and brisket. With perfectly seasoned cuts and optimal temperatures, you'll learn to handle an offset smoker like a true pitmaster.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Very informative and engaging - I need to get smokin!

Funny. Crazy. Passionate. He knows what his doing. Congrats.

Definitely, I love the passion and knowledge of history Aaron has.

I got into que after eating at Franklins my first time 3 years ago, I’ve been an unofficial student of Aaron’s since then. I’m loving this class


A fellow student

Home run. Done ribs twice this way and turn out great! Mix my own rub with salt, pepper, Montreal, Chicago. Sauced a mixture of beer and spicy, sweet barbecue sauces. Best ribs ever made

A fellow student

I most recently prepped ribs this way, and they turned out well. BUT!...I notice the color on mine is more grey than mahogany. Anyone have thoughts on that? Am I adding too little paprika? Something about the quality of oak I’m using?


Lovin’ Aaron’s class. Made these spare ribs today using Aaron’s recipe. REALLY GOOD! I just wish I had his cooker!

Jillian D.

Love the lessons Arron taught. Made these on my gas grill with a smoke box and hickory wood chips. I went with a homemade rub and beer bbq sauce I have been playing with. Best ribs I’ve made by far!

Larry F.

What is the mixture Aaron is using for the sauce on the ribs. Looks very lose/watery. Different then I have done in the past

ed S.

was really good. i'm concerned with all that pepper! my family not keen on too much pepper; may cut pepper in half. seems like all you would taste is the pepper. comments please.

cesar pino

I don’t have an offset smoker but I used my camp chef pellet grill. Smoke setting for 3 hours and 225 for the next 3 hours wrapped. Used a lower temp due to my cooker being a lot smaller than the one Franklin used. Juiciest ribs I’ve ever had! Family loved them! They really liked flip and dump the juice effect

John O.

I had two recent experiences at “BBQ” joints. In both of them I ordered St. Louis style smoked ribs. In the first place the ribs came out with the consistency of twenty year old asphalt roofing tiles. I took one bite and sent it back to the kitchen. Yesterday I visited another “Smokehouse” and got ribs not quite as bad, but with the consistency of, let’s say, new roofing tiles. My wife thinks that’s because the ribs were “smoked.” ... Or ... that they are “St. Louis” style ...AND... I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. All I can say is that when I eat at Ruby Tuesday (yeah...I know), I get ribs that fall off the bone - every freaking time I go there. They aren’t smoked, nor are they St. Louis style, so maybe my wife is right? Know what the second best ribs I’ve eaten are? Harris-Teeter. Yeah...I know, but all I do is heat them up in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 and they taste great. Also fall off the bone. But they aren’t smoked and aren’t St. Louis style either. Now..I get it. I don’t know how restaurants keep something like ribs fresh unless you have folks lining up out the door and take them right off the grill and serve them up FRESH. What was insidious about the second visit was that my son and daughter-in-law took me to this “special” place because they know I like ribs. I woke up last night at 3:00A.M. berating myself for not sending the ribs back like I did the first time. BUT I COULDN’T without making them feel bad. I’ll admit, when asked how the ribs were, I did respond that I liked Ruby Tuesday’s better. So...I guess my questions are: 1. Are smoked St. Louis style ribs supposed to taste like asphalt roofing tiles with barbecue sauce on them? 2. How the hell does a restaurant keep their ribs from tasting like that - if indeed they are NOT supposed to taste like roofing tiles. I’m going to try another new BBQ joint tomorrow night. Wish me luck!

Randy W.

Full spares(all natural) cooked on my Oklahoma Joes pit. Challenging since I cooked them on the coastal bend at our bay house in Port Alto, Tx., in a 20 mph wind. Faced the box opposite from the wind direction. Good practice with temp control! Came out really good. Thanks Aaron.

A fellow student

The lesson references chapter 14 for more information on the water pan. That lesson appears to refer to offset smokers but never talks about water pans. Is this content elsewhere?