The 4 Things You Need to Know About Smoking Ribs

John Rivers founder and owner of 4 Rivers Smokehouse tells us what we need to know about making his St. Louis-style ribs

John Rivers tells us the four most important things to remember when making his St. Louis-style ribs.

Cooking your own barbecue (real barbecue) can be intimidating for first-timers, but the reward of slow-smoked, tender ribs at the end of the day is well worth it, which is why we asked John Rivers, owner–founder of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, with locations throughout Florida, for a few tips to making perfect, tender ribs.

Rivers’ St. Louis-Style Ribs are tender, sweet, and delicious. St. Louis spareribs tend to be fattier with more meat on the bone than loin-back or baby back ribs. Baby back ribs are cut from the top of the rib cage and abut the loin, while St. Louis cut, which is the most popular cut in Kansas City, are cut from the middle-bottom of the ribcage. You can use St. Louis and loin back ribs roughly interchangeably; however, spareribs might need a little more time as they are typically larger.


For ribs as tender and delicious as you can pick up at 4 Rivers Smokehouse, check out John Rivers rib cooking tips below:

  • Always smoke with the meat side up.
  • Smoke until the meat pulls back from the bone on the tips (about 1/2 an inch from the bone). Use this as an indicator that the ribs are done.
  • Don't put sauce on until the very end (the last 30 minutes of smoking) or, better yet, sauce the ribs just before flashing them on the grill after smoking so the sugar caramelizes and you get a nice crunch atop the succulent meat.
  • Spray ribs with apple juice in the latter period of smoking. Apple and pork go great together.