Competition /3-2-1 Ribs

3-2-1 ribs are so called because of the cook times used, 3 hours smoked, 2 hours foil baked and one hour grilled. It's a popular method amongst BBQ Competition chefs, because it's almost fool proof and produces great ribs every time.

Method: Hot Smoking

Suggested Woods: Apple/Cherry/Hickory

Approx. Cook Time: 6 Hours


  •  1 Full Rack Ribs
  • Apple Juice
  • BBQ Rub

A note for your ribs, try to get the best quality meat you can from a butcher. Pre-packed ribs tend to have a very small amount of meat on them and if you cook them for this long, they'll turn to rubber.



From a full rack of ribs, you'll need to trim the fat off the top side, to allow you to put flavour into the meat. Start at the edges and with a sharp knife peel back the fatty layer by cutting it away from the meat. Because they're competition style ribs, they have to look good as well as taste good, so you need to cut off the knuckles or 'rib tips', this is the fatter part of the rib and it contains a lot of cartilage. Use a large knife to cut down into the rib between the joint, all the way along so that there are only rib bones. As well as this, but less for aesthetics, you should remove the membrane on the inside of the ribs, leaving the thin layer of fatty tissue behind to keep them together, you should be able to peel it off in one if you get a sharp knife under it one edge, your butcher will normally do this for you if you ask nicely.

Rub the ribs with your favourite BBQ rub or make a rub yourself, wrap them in cling-film and let them rest for an hour minimum.


Put the ribs on the grill and shut the lid with the waterpan in, bone side down for 3 hours check the fire and water level about an hour in. This is the best time to add smoke flavour to the meat, so right at the beginning of the cook add your smoking wood to the fire - we highly recommend apple wood with pork.


Take the ribs off the grill, and lay them on a sheet of tinfoil, bone side up, and fold the long edges up. Pour about 4tbsp of apple juice into your package and seal the package. Put the package back on the grill, still bone side up and shut the lid for another 2 hours.


Take the ribs off, empty the waterpan and replace it in the unit. Unwrap your ribs and put them bone side down on the grill. This part of the cook usually takes an hour, but can vary depending on your fire and the ribs, so check them frequently, every 15 minutes or so, using the flex test to see if they're done how you like them. This is also the part of the cook to glaze your ribs in if that's how you roll.

The flex test is done by picking up the rack about 1/3rd of the way along, bone side down and seeing how much they flex. They should bend about 120°, so the bark on the top of the rack starts to crack, the meat should also be pulling away from the bone of the rib slightly.