3 2 1 Ribs Recipe

how to cook 3 2 1 ribs
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Treager 321 Ribs

I love these 3 2 1 ribs. Nothing else quite says summer like a day smoking or grilling ribs on your patio. Today, I am going to demonstrate my favorite 321 rib recipes on my Traeger Grill. We’ll start by smoking for three hours followed by a tight aluminum foil wrap with apple cider vinegar and white wine before a final hour of smoking with bbq sauce. The ribs will be smokey and fall off the bone tender. Look at the picture below and you can see the awesome smoke ring and crust outside of the juicy center.3 2 1 ribs

My 321 rib recipe is a little different than what you may already know about this method. Most recipes call for an apple cider or apple juice wrap during the second step of the smoking where the ribs are tightly wrapped in tinfoil to tender them up. Instead of apple juice, I use a white wine and apple cider vinegar. The wine and vinegar really help to tenderize the meat and adds a tart flavor and lightens up the meal quite a bit. I’ve used both methods. Both are good, but in my opinion, the wine and cider vinegar creates a much more sophisticated meat in the end.

Pair The 3 2 1 Ribs With One Of These Great Dishes

These 3 2 1 ribs can stand alone, but if you are looking to pair it with something to offer a huge table spread, please check out some of our other favorite recipes like Beer Can Chicken, Cast Iron Grilled ChickenSmoked Turkey Breast, and our Grilled BBQ pizza. I recommend pairing 321 ribs with our Smoked Baked Beans and Zucchini Casserole as sides and to add a little flair to the meal with a Cider Mimosa.

How to Make 3 2 1 Ribs

To properly make the 3-2-1 method make sure you get some of the basics ready before you start smoking.

Preparing the Ribs

First, start with fresh racks of pork ribs or pull frozen ribs out the night before so they are thoroughly thawed. Either St. Louis style ribs or spare ribs will do. One is the upper part of the rib and the other is the lower. For more on the difference between these two cuts, you can read my article on How To Cook Pork Ribs.

You will notice the bone side of the ribs has a thick membrane. Many recipes recommend peeling the membrane from the side of the ribs. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is not really necessary. I will get plenty of smoke into the meat as this cooks as you can see from the picture above. Personally, I will peel the membrane if it comes off easily. Otherwise, I will score the bone side with a knife. This is all you need for the smoke to permeate the meat. Here's a pro tip: If you can't pull the membrane off, you can cut it with a knife several times to let the smoke reach the meat instead. Click To Tweet

Understanding the 3-2-1 Method

You may have heard of the 3-2-1 ribs method of smoking or grilling. What it means is three hours of slow cooking your meat on your smoker or grill. Then, two hours wrapped in foil with some liquid (usually apple juice or apple cider but I’ll give you my recipe for something much better), and then one hour with BBQ sauce after the ribs have been removed from the tinfoil to firm up the ribs in the end. I have some tips for each step as you follow the directions below.

Ingredients

Starting your ribs is very easy. Just remember ribs 321. Start with a “3” hour cook at 225 degrees in the beginning:

  • 2 racks of ribs
  • Your favorite Rib Rub*
  • 1/3 cup Mustard

*There are a lot of rib rubs to choose from. Personally, my favorite is using fresh herbs from the garden and then using store bought herbs for the spices you can’t grow. Please read how I make my own dried herbs and save money and get fresher food from it. If you want sweeter ribs, use brown sugar mixed into the mustard.

Then, the “2” is a two-hour cook where you wrap ribs in tinfoil:

  • one half cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey

Finally, the “1” hour cook to set the BBQ sauce.

  • BBQ sauce (optional)

Equipment Needed

Making the 3 2 1 Ribs Recipe

I demonstrate this 321 ribs recipe in the video below so you can hear my comments and see how I make it. I’ll write the full recipe further down and give step by step commentary if you want more information.

The 3 Hour Cook

First, I’ll start with the “3.” This is the initial smoking of the ribs. Set your Traeger smoker at 225 degrees. This is where you infuse your meat with that great smoke flavor and begin a low and slow smoke. Flavoring the meat by using a dry rub, mustard, and brown sugar if desired. This will give your ribs a great outer crust. It is as simple as coating the ribs with your favorite rib rub and then drizzling on some mustard. With a spoon, spread the mustard around to cover the top side of the ribs.

321 rib recipe

At the end of the three-hour cook, your ribs will look like something like this:

smoking ribs

The 2 Hour Cook

The most important part of this step in the 321 rib method is to wrap ribs in foil very tightly. That is key to keeping them in the steam and juice. This step wraps the ribs tightly in tinfoil with the juice we made. The ribs will continue to grill and cook low and slow, but this step will help tenderize the meat and make them fall off the bone. If you want, you can extend this step an hour as well.

Make your juice by mixing the apple cider vinegar, white wine, honey, and brown sugar in a bowl. Lay out a single piece of tinfoil long enough to cover the whole rack. Place your rack of ribs onto the tin foil and make it into a boat so that it will catch all of the juice you made.

smoking ribs

Pour the juice onto your ribs splitting it evenly between the two racks. You can’t have too much juice, so don’t go light on it. If you decide you want more, just make a little more. It would be ok if the ribs boiled in the juice for two hours.

ribs recipe

To successfully wrap ribs in foil, I double the aluminum foil and turn them upside down (meat side down, bone side up) so that the meat literally boils in the wine and vinegar. So basically, I have a second sheet of tinfoil that goes on top and then wraps under the ribs so that when I turn them over, this layer collects all of the juice and the meat side of the ribs sits in the liquid. The vinegar will give the ribs a great tangy flavor.

321 ribs

At the end of this two-hour cook, remove the ribs from the aluminum and discard the foil. The ribs will look like the picture shown below. Notice how the meat is softening so much it is peeling away from the ribs already.

bbq ribs smoking ribs

The Final Hour of Cooking

If desired, you can just leave the ribs as is and firm them up on the smoker. Otherwise, adding BBQ sauce to finish is a sure winner too.

BBQ ribs

After an hour, you can pull them off. Let them rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serve.

3 2 1 ribs

Printable Recipe

3 2 1 Ribs Recipe

Smoky, tangy, and fall off the bone tender ribs. More tips on our blog!

10 minPrep Time

6 hrCook Time

6 hr, 10 Total Time

Yields 2 racks

Author:

Recipe Image
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Ingredients

  • 2 racks of ribs
  • Rib Rub
  • 1/3 cup Mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce

Instructions

  1. Smoke the ribs at 225 degrees. This is where you infuse your meat with that great smoke flavor and begin a low and slow smoke. Flavoring the meat by using a dry rub will give your ribs a great outer crust. Use your favorite rib rub and then drizzle on some mustard. With a spoon, spread the mustard around to cover the top of the ribs.
  2. Make the juice out of the vinegar, wine, sugar, and honey. This step wraps the ribs tightly in tinfoil with the juice we made. The ribs will continue to cook low and slow, but this step will help tenderize the meat and make them fall apart. Lay out a single piece of tinfoil long enough to cover the whole rack. Place your rack of ribs onto the tin foil and make it into a boat so that it will catch all of the juice you made. Pour the juice onto your ribs splitting it evenly between the two racks. You can't have too much juice, so don't go light on it. If you decide you want more, just make a little more. It would be ok if the ribs boiled in the juice for two hours.
  3. After the two hour cook, remove them from the tinfoil. You can just leave the ribs as is and firm them up on the smoker. Otherwise, adding BBQ sauce to finish is a sure winner too.
  4. After an hour, you can pull them off. Let them rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serve.
Recipe Type: BBQ
7.6.7
18
http://fourkidsandachicken.com/2017/08/30/3-2-1-ribs-recipe/

3 2 1 ribs recipe

I really love the 3-2-1 ribs on the Traeger. This is without a doubt one of my favorite methods of cooking ribs. It took me a little trial and error, but hopefully, this 321 rib method will bring your ribs to a competition level overnight.  We thought this was a really fun way to cook with wine. If you want another winning recipe, we have another wine-smoking favorite with our Red Wine Smoked Roast Beef.

ribs recipe

If you want another incredible Traeger recipe, check out our dry rub chicken wings too.

chicken wings

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