321 Ribs – How To Smoke Ribs The Easy Way

Are you looking to do the 321 method for fall off the bone ribs? 

Then you’re definitely in the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What the 321 method is
  • How to smoke ribs using the 321 method
  •  And much more!
321 Ribs

Do you want to master juicy, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs? If so, then the best way to achieve this is by following the 321 method for smoking ribs.

You don’t have to be a master chef to pull off this technique, but following the instructions below is a surefire way to get the job done right.

Table of Contents

What Is The 321 Method for Smoking Ribs?

If you’re into BBQ, there’s no denying that you’re into ribs. Making them as sumptuous as possible is essential.

That’s why learning how to smoke ribs using the 321 method is a great skill to have.

As a result, we end up with the best ribs that melt in our mouths, making it the perfect starter recipe and one that the family is sure to rave about!

The 321 rib method stands for:

  • The “3” relates to smoking the ribs for three hours directly on the grill or smoker.
  • The “2” stands for the two hours we spend cooking them wrapped in foil with liquid.
  • The “1” is the final hour spent slathering the ribs in sauce after unwrapping them.

Read More >> Top 5 Lump Charcoal For Smoking (2021 Guide)

321 Ribs Facts

What You Need To Know About Smoking Ribs With the 321 Method?

The thing about the 321 method that’s so great is that it’s a foolproof way to make sure that the tender meat falls off the bone.

Every. Single. Time.

321 ribs don’t burn or overcook, so we’ve got very little to worry about.

When using the 321 method, all we need are the following:

  • A spray bottle
  • A sauce brush
  • Aluminum foil
  • A grill or smoker

Read More >> Top 5 Best Smokers For Beginners (2021)

How To Smoke Ribs Using the 321 Method?

  1. Prepare the ribs
  2. 3 Hours of Smoking Unwrapped
  3. 2 Hours of Smoking Wrapped
  4. 1 Hour of Smoking Sauced Up

Step 1: Preparing Our Ribs

For this first step, we’ll need to peel off the underside of the rack of ribs’ membrane.

Then, we rub the seasoning or sauce onto our ribs.

We should wait for at least an hour so that the flavor has time to penetrate into the meat before smoking.

Read More >> Top 5 Best Dry Rubs For Ribs (2021 Review)

BBQ ribs on the smoker

Step 2: 3 Hours of Smoking Unwrapped

Next, set the temp to 225°F and smoke our ribs for three hours directly on the rack.

We can also use a gas grill to simulate a smoker if that’s more convenient.

During this 3 hour smoke, don’t mess with them. Remember the saying, “If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’.”

Remember to add in your wood in this step to get that wood flavor!

Read More >> Top 3 Woods For Smoking Ribs (2021)


Step 3: 2 Hours of Smoking Wrapped

The next two hours are spent tenderizing the meat.

First, we wrap the ribs in foil to allow the meat to steam while being cooked.

This steam will break down the connective tissues, making the meat tender.

We should also pour about ⅓ cup of apple juice, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and a few tablespoons of butter.

These liquids work great for that fall-off-the-bone result you’re looking for (and they’ll taste great).

Similar to the three hours of smoking, we should keep the temperature at 225°F when cooking for two hours. 


Step 4: 1 Final Hour of Smoking Sauced Up

For the final hour of smoking our ribs, we need to continue to cook them at 225°F after brushing on our preferred BBQ sauce.

Let the steam escape by removing the foil. Now, we’ll be able to see that the meat is beginning to fall off the rib bones as they become more tender.

This is why we need to be careful when we’re lifting the ribs from the foil.

They’re so tender that they may fall apart.

Use a sauce brush to apply the BBQ sauce after placing the ribs on the smoker rack. Apply a generous amount of sauce to make it tastier.

Now, we wait for the final hour by the smoker or grill. Get your sides ready because it’s almost chow time!

Final Thoughts On The 321 Method For Smoking Ribs

If you want to try smoking your own ribs, then the 321 method is perfect.

It’s not only easy but has tasty end results every time.

Try it now, and let us know what you think!

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Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I run this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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