How to Smoke Baby Back Ribs on a Weber Kettle (2-2-1)

Smoked baby Back Ribs

How to Smoke Baby Back Ribs on a Weber Kettle (2-2-1)

Smoking baby back ribs on a Weber kettle is extremely easy.  The technique I am going to show you is referred to as the “2-2-1” method and it turns out delicious ribs every single time!

Let me show you how to use your charcoal grill to make the best baby backs you have ever eaten!

Smoked baby Back Ribs


Prepare the Baby Back Ribs

If you are using a 22 inch Weber kettle then you can easily fit two slabs of baby backs on the grill but for this cook I only cooked one.

We are going to start with a slab of baby back ribs that weighs about 3 pounds.

Slab of Uncooked Baby Back Ribs

The first thing we are going to do is flip these ribs over.  We want the meat side down and the bone side up.

There is a membrane on the back of these ribs and we need to take it off.  Get started by using a butter knife and prying up a section of the membrane.

Remove the rib membrane

Once a section of the membrane has been separated you can grab it with a paper towel and pull the whole thing off.

Here is what it will look like when you are done.

Membrane is off

Now that the membrane is off we can apply a dry rub.

Some folks like to put the dry rub directly on the meat. Other folks like to get the meat damp to help the rub stick better.

To get the meat damp you can apply a thin coating of oil or a little bit of mustard.  This step is completely optional but for this cook I went with a little mustard.  If mustard does not float your boat then a thin coating of olive oil or mayonnaise works great as well.

Rub ribs with mustard

Liberally apply your dry rub to BOTH SIDES of the ribs.

Dry Rub for Smoked Baby Back Ribs

  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup Morton kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt


Dry Rub for smoked baby back ribs


Prepare Your Weber Kettle for Smoking

Now that the ribs are prepped it is time to get your smoker ready.  I do most of my smoking on my Weber charcoal grill at around 250F.

To set up your grill you will need to fill a charcoal basket with about 30 Kingsford briquettes and place the basket on the left side of the charcoal grate.

Use a paraffin lighter cube, propane torch, etc to light the top corner of the charcoal bed.  Set the bottom air vent to about 20% open and leave the top air vent completely open.

Kingsford in charcoal basket

Once the corner of the charcoal bed is lit you can add a few chunks of smoking wood.

I like to put a few chunks directly over the lit coals and another one further back in the bed.  This makes sure the ribs get plenty of smoke when they first start cooking and a little boost of smoke later on.

As far as wood choice, I like using maple or apple for baby backs when I want a mild smoke flavor and hickory when I want a stronger smoke profile.  For this cook I used hickory.

Use Hickory for Smoked ribs


Smoke the Baby Back Ribs

Place the ribs on the cool, indirect side of the cooking grate away from the charcoal basket.

Baby Back ribs on the smoker

Make sure you add your wood chunks and then close the lid.  You want the top air vent to be completely open and located over the ribs.

We are going to let the ribs cook uncovered in the grill for two hours to soak up some smoke.

After two hours the ribs have plenty of smoke, have taken on a nice color and are ready for the second part of the cooking process.

Smoked baby Back Ribs at 2 hours

At this point we want to wrap the ribs in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil to accelerate the cooking process.  As long as you are taking the time to wrap the ribs you can add to the flavor profile.  The main flavor that people like to add to their ribs is “Sweet”.

For this cook I added a quarter cup of honey to the ribs.  Other great options are maple syrup, melted peach preserves or apple jelly.

Smoked ribs with Honey

Before you finish wrapping the ribs add a quarter cup of apple juice to the foil pouch.  The apple juice adds some flavor and helps the ribs braise inside the foil.

One of the reasons this technique works so well on a Weber kettle is because the two hour increments we use matches how long a charcoal basket full of Kingsford will last with these vent settings.

After you have wrapped the ribs go ahead and fill the charcoal basket back up with unlit Kingsford.  The old coals will light the new coals.

Charcoal after two hours

There is no need to add any more smoke wood since the ribs will be in the foil and will not be exposed to the smoke.

The foiled ribs go back onto the grill to cook two more hours.

Foiled baby back ribs

After the ribs have cooked in the foil for two hours take them off the grill and remove them from the foil pouch.  Be careful when you open the pouch.  Any escaping steam will be HOT.

Here is what you want to see when you open up the foil.

Smoked baby back rib bone

See how the meat has started to pull away from the rib bone?  That’s a a good sign!!

Once the meat has pulled back from the bone by about half an inch it is time to take the ribs out of the foil, add some barbecue sauce and put them back on the grill.

You will need to add some more charcoal at this point.

barbecue sauce for smoked baby back ribs

Let the ribs finish cooking for another hour until a toothpick can easily slide through the meat with no resistance.

Remove the ribs from the grill and slice between the bones.

Finished smoked baby back ribs

What I have just outlined is a general framework for smoked ribs that is commonly called the “2-2-1” method.

2-2-1 stands for

  • 2 hours exposed to smoke
  • 2 hours in a foil pouch
  • 1 hour out of the foil

Variations on the 2-2-1 Method

The “2-2-1” method I just showed you is a framework that you can tweak to your liking.  Here is a great post that shows how to make 2-2-1 ribs on a pellet grill.

People have fun experimenting with what they put in the foil pouch with the ribs.  Favorite additions include Parkay margarine, brown sugar, spicy honey and more layers of dry rub.

Some people like their ribs to have a little more chew so they only leave the ribs in the foil for one hour.

Feel free to have fun and try your own twists on this classic technique!

Smoked baby Back Ribs

Smoked Baby Back Ribs {Weber Kettle 2-2-1}

Baby back ribs are seasoned with a dry rub and then smoked on a Weber kettle using the 2-2-1 method.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 375 kcal


  • 1 slab Baby Back Ribs about three pounds
  • 3 tbsp yellow mustard optional
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar Dry Rub
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt Dry Rub
  • 2 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning Dry Rub
  • 1 tbsp chili powder Dry Rub
  • 1 tsp granulated onion Dry Rub
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic Dry Rub
  • 1 tsp black pepper Dry Rub
  • 1 tsp celery salt Dry Rub
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce


  • Remove the membrane from the back of the baby back ribs.
  • Season the ribs on both sides with the dry rub. Use of a mustard binder is optional.
  • Set up your kettle for indirect low heat.
  • Smoke the ribs for two hours.
  • Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil with the honey and apple juice.
  • Return the foiled ribs to the grill and cook for two hours.
  • Remove the ribs from the foil, apply barbecue sauce and cook for one hour.
  • The ribs are done when a toothpick slides through the meat with no resistance.


This technique also works with pork spare ribs.  However, since spare ribs are larger than baby back ribs you will want to smoke them for three hours before they get wrapped in foil.
Keyword Smoked Baby Back Ribs

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