Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


Kansas City Spare Ribs

Adapted from Raichlen on Ribs (Workman, 2006)

  • Advance Prep: none

Tender Kansas City-style Spareribs, hickory smoked and served with a spicy apple BBQ sauce.


  • Yield: 4
  • Method: Smoking/ indirect grilling
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For the rub and the ribs

  • 1 tablespoons seasoning salt, such as Lawry’s
  • 1 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoons meat tenderizer
  • 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 racks St. Louis cut spare-ribs (4 to 5 pounds total)
  • 2 12 ounce ounce bottles beer
  • 4 cups hickory chips or chunks, or as needed, or applewood logs (optional) Bottle sprayer or mister (optional)

Step 1: Make the rub. Place the seasoned salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, garlic powder, meat tenderizer, and cayenne in a bowl and stir to mix, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.

Step 2: Prepare the ribs. Place a rack of ribs meat side down on a baking sheet. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of the rack by inserting a slender implement, such as a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer, under it. The best place to start is on one of the middle bones. Using a dishcloth, paper towel, or pliers to gain a secure grip, peel off the membrane. Repeat with the remaining rack.

Step 3: Arrange the ribs on a baking sheet. Sprinkle on both sides with the rub, rubbing the spices into the meat.

Step 4: Set up your smoker and preheat to 225 to 250 degrees.

Step 5: Arrange the seasoned ribs bone side up in your smoker. Smoke until nicely browned and very tender, 5 to 6 hours in all, turning the ribs over half way through. After the first hour, mist or mop the ribs with beer; after that, mist or mop every hour until you apply the barbecue sauce.

Step 6: Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce for the last 30 to 45 minutes of smoking.

Step 7: Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the racks in half or cut into individual ribs. Serve with extra barbecue sauce.