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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.

I am a starting off as a chef, I've always loved bbq, but the type of bbq where I live at is very different, so having the opportunity to learn from Aaron Franklin has been incredible, and I'd love to be able to learn more from him!

Thoroughly enjoyed the class and making the meals as it went. Only wish that some of the classes had spent more time on the cooker itself and maybe a little more time on the warning signs of mistakes. Overall a really enjoyable class.

It gave me a different look at BBQ. I live in the NE and we dont really BBQ a ton . So thank you

I've been trying to become better at my smoking skills and have been learning just by trial and lots of errors. I think this course will help shorten the learning curve and at the same time save a bunch of money along the way


Nikolaos M.

Hey guys, Quick question. When putting them back on after wrap. Did he put them bone side up ? or meat side up ? he does this really weird movement when placing them back in that i cant really tell but it looks like meat side up ! thanks !


Great class - the ribs turned out with amazing tase. However when I unwrapped them from the foil, the meat on most of the ribs literally fell off the bone. Thoughts anyone? Too long in the foil? Not long enough? Not hot enough? Too much spray? thanks in advance.

Gwen B.

Ahh he means 270 F = 130 C. I've slowcooked pork shoulder at 140C and found it a bit overdone. So would agree that 130C is the sweet spot


I found Aaron’s method to be very different from those I have seen from the vast majority of other Pitmasters on television and online. Most all use rubs containing ingredients other than just salt/pepper/paprika and when wrapping they often use brown sugar, squeeze butter, honey...etc. And the cook temp of 270 is really surprising to me. I tried spares at 270 for 3 hours with spritz and rub then wrapped for 1.5 hours more. They fell off the bone, but that’s no good for competition. Don’t know how his were not overdone at that temperature. They looked amazing but I’m not sure how. Can’t argue with his success, but I couldn’t reproduce at that temp. I needed his time profile, but 225 temp on my traeger.

A fellow student

Just made my first rack of spare ribs. Don't have a grill, so I used the oven at 225 but otherwise followed the program from the class. Really great results and enjoying it now - thank you!

Michael B.

I'm really surprised at the 270 degree cook temp. Most resources are adamant on 225-250 degrees max. In my own experience, pork butts and ribs at 250 cook too fast, and are dryer than they should be. 270 seems crazy. My last pork butt was 8lbs, and I did it at 225 for 18hrs and it was perfect. If I cooked that at 270, it'd have been really dry. Is this a function of the larger cooker? I'm just using an xtra large ceramic/kamado.

A fellow student

As an amateur in BBQ (other techniques I've mastered :P)...I have to say I loved him. His passion, his way of transferring knowledge and detailed explanations...oooh! I would suggest this masterclass to anyone whether you enjoy BBQ or not. It's an example of knowing and loving what you do! Thanks!


Made some baby backs using these suggestions. Overall, good, but needs adjustments. What I found: they don’t need six hours at the temp recommended (likely shorter time or heat at 225-250). Flavor with salt and pepper was good. Texture was good, but they shredded which he stated you don’t want that to happen. In past, I did baby backs 4-5 hours at 225ish without wrapping. It did not shred like what I did recently, but dryer side. I think I’ll combine what I’ve done in past with wrapping based off of this lesson.

Kerrieann A.

Oh my goodness.... I am soooo going to mug-him for his backyard!!!! So beautiful and awesome!!! What a perfect spot to be spending the day cooking and relaxing. Can you imagine being a neighbour??? The smells would be divine!!!!

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?