If you’ve read any of my other content, you know I’m not very good at leaving good enough alone. The baby back rib sandwich I’m going to give you the rundown on is no different.
I love baby back ribs, and most of the time I’m content just eating them right off the bone. There’s debate as to which method is the best for cooking baby backs, but I typically follow the “321 method” or a close variation of it.
What is the 321 Method for Ribs?
The reason so many people like the 321
- Three hours meat side up, at 180 or 225
- Two hours wrapped in foil with butter, brown sugar, and apple juice (temp 225)
- One hour unwrapped meat side up, brushing barbecue sauce on at the beginning (temp 275)
I do my best to follow this method every time I cook ribs, and the results are always good. Sometimes I’ll cook them a little longer than three hours
As long as you follow the rough framework, your results will be good.
Meat Side Up, or Bone Side Up?
Some people will recommend going meat side down during the wrapped portion, but I prefer not to do this. As long as the meat is tightly wrapped in foil, I’d prefer to keep the ribs bone side down. The moisture in the wrap will steam the meat, and if you have the ribs meat side down they’ll be sitting in all that juice and could turn to mush… That is not the desired doneness we are looking for!
We are however, looking for ribs that are tender enough to slide the bones out clean. For that reason, I cooked the rack of ribs for BBQ pork rib sandwiches following a 3-3-1 method.
BBQ Pork Rib Sandwiches
There are a few things you should do before you throw your ribs on the smoker. The first step is to square up the
After the ribs are prepped, set up your smoker to cook at 180 degrees. I used oak pellets for this cook, but cherry or apple pellets pair well with pork ribs too. Place the ribs meat side up in the smoker, and let them take on smoke for 3 hours.
Wrapping Baby Back Ribs
After three hours remover your ribs from the smoker, and place the rack meat side up on two pieces of foil that are approximately double the length of the ribs. Cube up a stick of butter and place on top of the ribs, followed by a 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and then sprinkle some more rub on top.
Close up the foil tightly around the ribs, being careful not to puncture the foil with the rib bones. Situate the foil so the seam is at the top. Before you seal it shut, pour a 1/4 cup of apple juice in as well. Pour the juice so it runs down the inside of the foil instead of directly on the meat. You don’t want it to wash away any bark that has established.
Turn the heat up on your smoker to 225 degrees, and let the ribs cook for an additional 2 and a half to 3 hours. This is longer than normal, but we want to be able to pull the bones clean at the end of this cook.
When the three hours are up carefully remove the ribs from the foil. There’s gonna be a significant amount of moisture and steam in that foil pack, so it’s best to open it over a cookie sheet to prevent a mess.
Place the ribs back on the smoker meat side up, and brush on your favorite barbecue sauce. Turn the heat up to 275 and let the ribs cook for an additional 30 minutes to an hour.
Pulling Bones for BBQ Pork Rib Sandwiches
When the ribs are done cooking pull them off the smoker and place the rack on a large cutting board to rest for ten minutes. Be careful! These ribs are gonna be super tender.
While the ribs are resting slice a large loaf of bread in half. I used sourdough, but what you choose is up to you.
Flip your ribs over, meat side down, and slowly pull each of the bones out. You might have to wiggle them a little bit, but they should slide right out, clean as a whistle. After you’ve removed all the bones, flip the rack over, and place it on the bread. I added pickled onions, and then another layer of bbq sauce before adding the top piece of bread, and slicing it up to serve.
BBQ Pork Rib Sandwich
- 1 rack pork baby back ribs
- 3 tbsp bbq rub
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Pickled Onions
- 1 loaf Sourdough Bread Sliced in half longways
- 2 tbsp Barbecue Sauce
- 8 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Square up the ribs, and remove the silverskin. Rub both sides with olive oil, and then apply 2 tbsp of the rub.
- Place the ribs in your smoker meat side up and let cook at 180 degrees for three hours.
- Remove the ribs from the smoker and double wrap with foil. Before sealing add the butter, apple juice, brown sugar, and the remainder of the rub.
- Place the ribs back in the smoker and let cook at 225 degrees for an additional 2.5-3 hours
- Carefully remove the ribs from the foil and place back in the smoker. Brush with barbecue sauce and turn up the heat to 275. Let the ribs cook for about 30 more minutes.
- Remove ribs from smoker and let rest for 10 minutes
- After the ribs have rested, carefully remove each of the bones, and then place the rack on top of your bread. Generously top with pickled onion and more barbecue sauce, slice, and serve.