Smoking Butts and Ribs

Smoked Ribs and Pulled Pork

Gully Johnson just asked me for some feedback on Facebook.  He wanted to know how I do butts and ribs. Maybe you’ll want to try it too… Feedback is also welcome – variations too. We’re all learning and experimenting to turn cheap meat into something glorious!

Here’s what I wrote him:
Gully… If you want “Easy & Good” here’s one way I do it…

For both the Pork Butt and the Ribs about 24 hours before I cook them. The super simple rub I use is 1 cup of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. You can add few table spoons of paprika for color if you want.

Put the rub on and then toss them into the fridge covering with foil. A typical butt will smoke 10-14 hours depending on the weight. So you’ll probably put the rub on before you go to bed.

The next morning, pack them both with another coating (not dusting) of brown sugar. Back into the fridge. Take the butt out of the fridge and put it on the counter while you set up your smoker.

This’ll allow the temp to come up a little bit but not get into the danger zone. Takes me about 30 minutes to get my smoker going. Then, put your butt into the smoker when it’s up to temp. I cook pork at 220 degrees. Takes longer but damn it’s good!

I’d use either cherry or apple wood along with the hickory. The fruits add good flavor and seem to also add a little to the color as well.

About 8-9 hours into the cook, put the butt into an aluminum pan and cover it. This will trap some of the moisture/drippings and steam it as well.

Let that baby cook until the internal tempo is 180-190. Sometimes it’ll get stuck in the 180’s FOREVER! Once it hits temp, take it off and toss it into a cooler padded with towels – still in the aluminum pan covered with foil. After a few hours, you should be able to pull it.

Now for ribs, I use the same rubbing process and then I cook them using what’s called the 3-2-1 method.

3 hours open, 2 hours wrapped in foil (when wrapping I add some honey and Kerns nectar) and then 1 hour in the open again to firm up.

It’s up to you if you want to brush them with some sauce at the beginning of that last hour.

I’m typically pretty generous with the wood/smoke for the first 3-4 hours and then rely on the charcoal. After three hours they say that the pores of the meat are closed so not much smoke penetrates it.

If the weather outside is bad I’ll also sometimes cheat and finish things off in the oven – but only after 8-9 hours in the smoker!

You can also go to – select the meat, weight and then the time you want to serve it and it’ll give you the step-by-step.

Choose advanced settings to allow for rub and resting times. Otherwise, the default is good.

Let me know if this is helpful – and let me know how it turns out! ~John

Now Figure Out Your Cooking Timeline!

* Change the skill level to “Advanced” and you can play with all the variables!

When you are smoking meats, you need to go in with one expectation. That is that all no two pieces of meat cook the same way.

The MeatSmokingCalculator is simply a tool designed to help you estimate the start time and provide you with some basic cooking instructions that you can use to get your meet done one time, when you are about ready to serve.

As the old saying goes, “It’s done when it’s done.” I recommend checking your internal temps regularly when you get to around 70% of the suggested cook time.

Please feel free to share data, calculations and ideas to make improvements! I’m a sponge and am committed to creating a tool which will be valuable to the BBQ community.

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