Smoked Texas-Style Baby Back Ribs

4.78 from 18 votes
4.78 from 18 votes

The best smoked Texas-style baby back ribs. Delicious pork ribs slow smoked over oak and seasoned with our delicious Texas rib rub. This easy smoker recipe is perfect for beginners and the perfect addition to any BBQ party platter!

smoked texas style baby back ribs

Aaah… ribs. Many BBQ masters turn to elite cuts of meat like brisket to impress, but for me, there’s no crowd-pleaser quite like a good rack of pork ribs.

Pork spare ribs and St. Louis cuts might carry more prestige come competition time, but baby back ribs are easier and quicker to smoke at home—and this smoked Texas-style baby back ribs recipe is a great way to do it.

And although pork isn’t as prominent in Texas-style barbecue as other regions in the US, with the right rub and wood combination we can easily make something closer to what we might find in the region.

Coating the ribs in a simple black pepper rub before then cooking it low and slow on the smoker, these baby backs are rich in flavor, beautifully tender, and coated in a beautiful bark.

From prepping your ribs to making the best Texas-style rib rub, here’s how to smoke baby back ribs.

smoked texas style baby back ribs

Baby Back Ribs Explained

Possibly the most popular type of pork ribs, baby back ribs are the small and lean ribs taken from the top of the rib cage of the pig. They’re easily identifiable by their small (hence the name ‘baby backs’) and curved shape, and they have enough meat both on top of and between the bones to make them satisfying to eat.

Because baby backs are smaller and leaner, they’re much easier to cook (and to eat) than other types of pork ribs, like spare ribs, which has a lot more fat and connective tissue. While spare ribs can take somewhere around 6 hours to smoke, baby backs are often done within 3-5.

This lean meat-to-fat ratio means they can be cooked at a higher temperature. However, we’re really after more smoke flavor and softer meat with these, so we’ll cook them low and slow to develop a beautiful bark and melt-in-your-mouth flavor.

How to Prepare Baby Back Ribs for Smoking

One of the reasons why baby back ribs are so popular for smoking if just how little preparation they need, especially compared to other rib cuts like spare ribs, which contain a lot more excess fat. Baby backs are often (almost) good to go, but it’s always good to give them a quick once-over. Here’s how to do it.

Remove the Membrane

The rib membrane is a thin layer of silverskin found on the underside of each rack of ribs. There’s some debate about whether or not removing the membrane from ribs really makes a difference, but I do it anyway. I want to get as much smoke into the meat as possible, and it’s quick enough to do that you might as well do it.

remove membrane from rib rack

Use a blunt-ish table knife to get under the corner of the rib membrane, and then use a dry paper towel for grip and carefully pull the membrane from the rack. With any luck, the membrane will come away from the ribs. But it’s not uncommon for it to peel away in bits. In which case, just spend a couple of minutes doing what you can before moving on to the next part.

Trim Excess Fat

Using a boning or paring knife, trim any excess fat you see on both the top and bottom side of the rib rack, as well as either end. These can burn quickly when cooked so it’s important to remove them.

Always cut away from yourself when using your knife, and don’t be afraid to leave a little bit of fat on the ribs, as this will help them stay moist while smoking.

Texas Rib Rub

seasoned baby back ribs texas rub

Many people have their own go-to dry rub for their smoked ribs, and I’m no different. While you can easily buy store-bought rib rubs, I’d always recommend making your own. It’s easy, and you can tweak the ingredients to your liking.

If you’re unsure of where to start, our Texas rib rub is a great entrypoint. It stays true to the stripped-back nature of Texas rubs, with just a dash of paprika for a touch of flair and color (attributes that I think are crucial for any kind of smoked pork).

Best of all, the ingredients needed are simple and staples on any BBQ ingredient list. These are:

  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • smoked paprika

To make it, simply blend all the ingredients in a small bowl. Use either a fork or whisk to mix them (I prefer a fork because it’s then easier to crush any lumps that appear).

When ready to apply, apply a thin layer of yellow mustard to the rib rack (this isn’t crucial, but it helps as a binder for the seasoning) before sprinkling with the dry rub blend.

texas baby back ribs smoker grates

Quick Tips

  • Employ The Bend Test: Instead of going by internal temperature, use either the bend or toothpick tests to determine when your ribs are good to go. Find out how to do these with our guide to knowing when ribs are done.
  • Rest: Remember to let your ribs rest after pulling them from the smoker! It’s often overlooked, but resting ribs for just 10 minutes is important to help them retain their juices and shape on the bone for when you serve them.
smoked texas style baby back ribs

Smoked Texas-Style Baby Back Ribs

4.78 from 18 votes
The best smoked Texas-style baby back ribs. Delicious pork ribs slow smoked over oak and seasoned with our delicious Texas rib rub. This easy smoker recipe is perfect for beginners and the perfect addition to any BBQ party platter!
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 4



  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 4 tbsp yellow mustard


  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

Dry Rub

  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika


  • Fire up your smoker to 225°F (107°C). If you’re using a charcoal grill, make sure you are set up for 2-zone indirect cooking.
  • While your smoker warms up, trim any excess fat from the ribs and remove the membrane from the underside of the rib back
  • Apply a thin layer of yellow mustard to the rib rack. This will act as a binder for the dry rub seasoning.
  • In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients. Combine well and use a fork to crush any lumps that may form.
  • Season the ribs liberally with the dry rub
  • Once your smoker is at temperature, place the ribs on your smoker grates. Smoke for 3 hours.
  • After the first hour, lightly spritz the ribs with apple cider vinegar. Repeat this every 30 minutes.
  • Place the ribs in aluminum foil with any remaining apple cider vinegar and wrap tightly. Return to the smoker and cook for 1 hour more.
  • Test to see if the ribs are done by using a pair of tongs to lift the rib rack at one end. If the rack bends and begins to crack, they’re ready to serve.
  • When the ribs are done, pull them from the smoker. Leave them wrapped and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Unwrap foil and serve ribs, either sliced or as the whole rack, with your choice of BBQ sauce and sides.

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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4.78 from 18 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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