Healthy Smoked Spare Ribs
Everyone loves a good rack of pork ribs, but it’s tough to find a recipe that has great flavor and is healthy. Most of the recipes out there for ribs include a lot of sugar. This is the BEST way to smoke spare ribs. This paleo smoked spare ribs recipe creates a moist, flavorful rib, that comes off the bone easily with every bite. Before I share with you how I made the ribs, here’s a little backstory on my experience with smoking meat I think most guys can relate to.
Following Recipes is Not My Specialty
My wife does a phenomenal job preparing AIP diet / Keto meals for us most days of the week, but Sundays are all mine. We call it “Smoked Meat Sunday”. I LOVE SUNDAYS. In fact, I might be a little obsessed with smoking meat. Today is Sunday, and I’m making Smoked Spare Ribs.
There’s some irony in me writing recipes to share with you because I don’t follow recipes very well… It drives my wife CRAZY. She is so good at finding recipes, following them EXACTLY as they are written, and producing phenomenal results. Me, not so much. A great example of this is one of the first meals I made for our family and some friends.
The Meatball Incident
We bought our Traeger grill just after we moved into our house last year, and one of the first meals I made was smoked meatballs. I searched online for a recipe, and then KINDA followed it. After adding all the ingredients to my meat and sausage mixture I formed the balls. I threw them on the Traeger at 225 for a few hours, then cranked the grill up to 375 at the end to really crisp up the outside.
We invited our friends over for the delicious feast, and I watched as they took the first bite.
MMM these are good, they both said as they took a large sip of water.
Encouraged, I took my first bite, and then my heart sank. In fact, it might be the worst bite of food I’ve ever taken. The texture was almost perfect, a slight crunch on the outside, with tender meat on the inside. As my tongue relayed the flavors to me I instantly realized the mistake I had made. This recipe called for just a few tablespoons of salt, but I had used a whole cup. A whole cup of salt in 2 pounds of meat.
What was I thinking?
Do As I Say, Not as I Do
Since the meatball incident, my cooks have been progressively better. I can assure you that if I share a recipe with you, it turned out good. Follow my ingredients and steps, and you’ll have a delicious meal… Don’t do what I did 🙂
Smoked Spare Ribs
I really like these smoked spare ribs. They have a bold smoky flavor brought on by an unlikely combination of coffee and paprika in the rub. The texture of the crispy bacon on top followed by the moist pork rib meat creates a party in your mouth with every bite.
We really love baby back ribs most of the time, but we are using spare ribs this time because of the extra surface area they provide to hold the bacon weave.
You can skip the bacon weave if you want, but I’m not sure why you would do that.
How Long Do You Smoke Pork Spare Ribs?
These paleo smoked ribs take time, 7 hours in total, so make sure you plan ahead.
Do You Brine Pork Ribs?
Want to take your ribs to the next level?
The night before you cook your ribs create a simple brine for them. Combine the following ingredients:
- 1 quart apple cider
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup table salt
Fully submerge your ribs in the brine overnight. This simple step will make your ribs more flavorful, moist, and tender.
Smoked Spare Rib Dry Rub
I really like the simplicity and earthy flavor this spare rib rub imparts. The dry rub includes the following ingredients:
- 1 tbsp Paprika
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp coffee
Mix the rub ingredients in a small bowl, and put to the side.
Smoked Spare Rib Prep
Once your dry rub is ready, it’s time to get the ribs prepped. I trim a little bit of the fat off of the ribs, but I leave the tips on. The tips have a lot of fat in them and help keep the meat moist throughout the cook.
Once I’ve trimmed off any excess fat, I rub the entire surface of the ribs with garlic infused olive oil. After the olive oil, I rub the ribs with the dry rub I shared above.
How to Smoke Spare Ribs
Turn on your smoker and take the necessary steps to get it up to 225 degrees. This is easy on a Traeger, but if you’re using a charcoal based smoker this can take more time. Plan accordingly.
Once the smoker is up to temp place the pork ribs meat side up on your smoker grate. You’ll want to leave them untouched for 90 minutes. Don’t peek! They’ll be fine I promise.
After 90 minutes open your smoker and flip the ribs to meat side down. Smoke the spare ribs meat side down an additional 90 minutes.
Prepare a Bacon Weave
Lay a piece of parchment paper out on your counter. This will be the base for your bacon weave. Put five pieces of bacon parallel to one another with no overlap on top of the parchment paper.
Fold the 1st, 3rd, and 5th piece of bacon back onto itself in half. Lay a piece of bacon perpendicular to the 5 pieces of bacon on the paper, overlapping the 2nd and 4th piece of bacon that is not folded back.
Unfold the previously folded layers of bacon, which should now go over the piece of bacon you just lay down. Repeat this process again, this time folding back the 2nd and 4th piece, and then overlapping the 1st, 3rd, and 5th.
Continue with the weave until it’s complete.
Bacon Weave on Spare Ribs
By now your paleo spare ribs have smoked for 90 minutes meat side up, and an additional 90 minutes meat side down. Remove them from the smoker. Using the parchment paper as a vehicle carefully put the bacon weave on top of the spare ribs.
Some of the pieces of bacon may come out of place during transport, that’s ok. Do your best to get the bacon back into the weave, and then put the bacon covered spare ribs back in your smoker.
You’ll want the ribs to smoke for an additional 2 hours with the bacon weave on top. The paleo smoked spare ribs are complete when the meat has pulled back about 1/2 an each from the end of each rib bone.
I didn’t put bbq sauce on these, but you can brush with your favorite bbq sauce during the last twenty minutes of the cook to ass some additional flavor
These Smoked Spare Ribs are the most flavorful ribs we’ve made and taste delicious just as they are. The addition of bacon means you don’t even need a sauce to create a mini party in your mouth. Paleo Smoked Spare Ribs are also Keto friendly, and sure to please a crowd.
Smoked Spare Ribs
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 1 Tablespoons Coffee Finely Ground
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Black Pepper Ground
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Garlic Infused
- 1 Rack of Spare Ribs
- 1 Pound Bacon Uncured Sugar-free
- Turn on your smoker and take the necessary steps to get it up to 225 degrees. This is easy on a Traeger, but if you're using a charcoal based smoker this can take more time. Plan accordingly.
- Remove your spare ribs from the refrigerator and rinse under cool water then pat dry. Put the ribs meat side down and remove the silver skin membrane that runs the length of the ribs called the peritoneum.
- Combine your Paprika, coffee, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. It should be noted that I'm a little crazy about coffee, so I ground some whole bean coffee just prior to adding to the rub. This isn't necessary. Seriously, there are zero benefits to grinding your own in this scenario.
- Rub your ribs with Garlic infused Olive oil.
- With your ribs meat side down, generously apply your rub, then flip to meat side up and apply rub to the meat side.
- Place your Spare Ribs meat side up on the grate of your smoker. Let the ribs cook, untouched, for 90 minutes
- After 90 minutes flip your spare ribs to meat side down, and cook for an additional 90 minutes.
- Prepare your bacon weave!
- Once your Spare ribs have cooked for 90 minutes meat side down, flip, and place your bacon weave on top. Close your grill and let the spare ribs with the bacon weave on top cook for at least 2 more hours.
- The ribs are done when the meat has pulled away from the end of each rib bone by about 1/2 of an inch.