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.
Get All-Access


[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.

Great class and I have already put the many lessons into practice. I have graduated to the next level of delicious barbecue!

I love how Aaron teaches, I picked up a ton of pointers on brisket and fires here!

Wonderful! Maybe if I watch this 5-10 more times I'll learn something! I'm an Eastern North Carolina BBQ lover. I'm not going to get into an argument as to which is best. I love it all!!

Loved the detail that Aaron went into. That's exactly what I was hoping for. The class is basically an awesome cook book on steroids. Very glad I bought and watched this masterclass.


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?

Michael K.

I know they not pork ribs but I had to share a pic of my beef ribs. Simple salt and pepper makes a great bark. Really surprised Aaron doesn’t discuss beef ribs as he does serve them at his restaurant

Tom M.

Probably 30 - 40 minutes too long - fell off the bone. The meat was still really moist and tender - will definitely try this again. I liked cutting the sauce and wrapping - great effect on the meat.

Don L.

Loved this lesson. Lots of great information in it. Franklin has such a great delivery.

antonio L.

wow more salt and pepper i respect u but just salt and pepper for everything.

Jeremy G.

Any tips for doing on a pitboss? Use the same temp? I see his temp is higher than the pitboss recipes.

Christian F.

These were the best damn ribs I’ve ever had. A lot of work but worth it. Working the fire is the absolute key in my opinion the rest is pretty easy. I’m highly critical when it comes to my cooking and I’m very proud of these.

thomas W.

made these today for fourth of july, followed the recipe and method to a tee and they were the best ribs I ever had!! Thank you very much Aaron!!

A fellow student

Did this as my first "homework assignment" for class. I was only able to get St.Louis cut spare ribs, as I hit the market at the end of the day. Did the 3-3 technique that Aaron used, and 30 minute rest. Good smoke, good flavor, but totally fall off the bone soft. I had all sorts of problems with my smoker today: up/down temp, a thunderstorm came through and literally sucked the heat out, and rain. I managed to hold 260 for about an hour and a half, but I was above and below that a lot until wrapping. Once wrapped, things stayed consistent. 3 hours wrapped was to long at 265-270. Next time I'm going to check them every 30-60 minutes for tenderness. I'm sure an full sparerib would've made some difference too.