From Aaron Franklin's MasterClass

Smoke: Pork Ribs

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.

Topics include: Game Plan: Collect the Data · Trim · Slather and Rub · Spritz and Sauce · Wrap · Check, Pull, and Rest · Cut


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.

Topics include: Game Plan: Collect the Data · Trim · Slather and Rub · Spritz and Sauce · Wrap · Check, Pull, and Rest · Cut

Aaron Franklin

Teaches Texas-Style BBQ

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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.

This class with Arron is a true blessing. Thank you for sharing all your wisdom..

Aaron Franklin is the best at what he does! If it's smoking brisket or teaching us about the art, He is concise and fluid. This class was excellent and Aaron is a wonderful teacher.. Thank You... My only retreat ..I want more!!!

Super quick lessons, impactful information that can be applied immediately. Aaron clearly is a master and is passionate for what he does. Loved the class and look forward to watching more!

Great to see a master at his skill showing humility and drive to continue learning the craft!


Mike L.

I like how simple he breaks down the process. I guess we sometimes get wrapped up in all the details and making sure we keep an eye on temp that we over think the cook. This lesson reminded me that I don't need to make cooking ribs such a hard complicated task.

Kent N.

Just turned out great and yes, I applied for that cool Reynolds Wrap, CGO position in August (Chief Grilling Officer).

James C.

I usually use a 3-2-1/2 method, the last 1/2 hr is just put a small layer of BBQ sauce on them and let it crystalize. I run my vertical charcoal unit at 225, with a water pan. I don't need to temp them because as I am trying to pull them off the cooker they just want to fold over on themselves and slightly pull away from the bone. One thing I normally do is cut all the cartilage off the ribs, what is an advantage of leaving it on? No-one I cook for seems to like that meat so I just discard it. One thing I struggle with is getting a nice bark on the ribs, wondering if that could possible be from the temperature I am running at with being so low. Everyone loves them, but just not what I am looking for. I love a good bark and a nice bite to them but struggling to get that.


I usually do a 2-1-1 method in the 250 range... I knew what to expect but I followed this method for grins. i.e. 3 hours @265-270, wrap, and an additional 3 hours @265-270 (I actually went only two hours here). They were peppery due to the rub ratio, but still delicious. However as expected they pretty much mush in that they'd literally fall off the bone whereas I prefer a slight tug. For example you couldn't cut them really, :) Next time I do this method where it's smoke then wrap, I think rather than time it I'll stick to a temperature probe (just poke through the top of the foil) and watch for around 195 if you want tender with a slight tug, or if you want a fall of the bone go ahead and shoot for 200-205 internal temp.

Mike Z.

Wow, these turned out SPECTACULAR! I cooked for only 3 1/2 hours, rested for 1/2 hour. Ribs came out tender, moist, and tasty. These may have been the best I’ve ever had. Thanks Aaron!!!

Robert G.

I have never wrapped my ribs in foil. I usually just use a dry rub and let them cook membrane down never turn them They seem to come out ok. I will try this the next time I make them.

mark R.

Been using tons of different rubs, sauces and methods over the years and never been completely happy. I used this process to the letter turned out perfect... This is my go to now.

Cary N.

I have been using the 3-2-1 method on baby backs for some time with good success. Aaron's ribs LOOK better than mine. Will try his method ,but on baby backs because I am lazy


What are your thoughts on using pink butcher paper for the wrap instead of foil?

David B.

I have never cooked ribs. I'm looking forward to my first time now that I have the information.