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.

Fire management in an offset smoker. Good depth beyond his u-tube videos

The video is great but the master class website isn’t user friendly

Very informative and well done. A great edition to his book.

Very useful information that helped round out some cooking techniques i have been working on.


Gary L.

Is Aaron cooking St. Louis spares in this video? Based on the trims he's making it seems like he's cutting them St. Louis style, but he says somewhere in the lesson that you can get all different types of ribs, including St. Louis, but this is how I like to trim them. That makes me think this isn't a St. Louis cut. Does anyone know?

Jamie W.

So I am confused about something. I have watched virtually every video I can find with Aaron and I have read his Franklin Barbecue book ( awesome book by the way). The question is, Aaron clearly states that they don't use foil to wrap - they use butcher paper. But in this Master Class video he uses foil for the ribs. Can someone elaborate on one vs the other?

A fellow student

In the oven??? Oh, that's definitely cheating. Why, I'll go watch that home cooking masterclass, instead. LOL!

A fellow student

Ok Aaron Truth. I would have licked that tasty goodness off my hands. You? Of course I would have washed after :)


Okay, out of all these "Masterclass" classes, this set was amazing. I learned so much from A A Ron! This guy knows how to teach, and as an educator for over 20 years that is they key element missing from Thomas Keller and others on this site. I was quite surprised how the little differences make a big deal, and those differences are probbably why my BBQ is less impressive than I hoped for.

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