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St. Louis Ribs

Try these St. Louis Ribs at your next weekend barbecue

St. Louis Ribs

These St. Louis-style ribs from John Rivers’The Southern Cowboy Cookbook are basted with apple juice for lightly sweet, smoky, tender ribs.

This recipe is courtesy of John Rivers and the 4 Rivers Smokehouse team.


  • 1 full rack of St. Louis–style ribs (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 Tablespoons your favorite dry-rub, such as 4R All-Purpose Rub
  • 2 Cups apple juice, poured into a squirt bottle
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 Cup barbecue sauce (of your choosing)


To prepare the smoker, soak wood for 1 hour before smoking. Light charcoal and allow to burn to a white ash. Place soaked hickory on top of hot coals and allow the temperature to settle at 225 degrees F.

Meanwhile, remove membrane on underside of rack of ribs (or score along the length of the rack with a knife, taking care not to puncture the meat). Apply rub evenly over top of ribs. Place in smoker and cover. Check and replace wood and coal every hour to maintain a constant temperature. After 2 hours, begin to spray the ribs with apple juice every 30 minutes

Continue smoking and spraying ribs for another 1½ hours, until the meat turns a dark brown and begins to pull back from the ends of the rib so ¼ to ½ inch of the bone is exposed and meat is tender to touch. Remove ribs from smoker. Spray with apple juice and sprinkle top with brown sugar and honey, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place ribs back in smoker for 30 minutes. Remove ribs from smoker and keep wrapped until ready to serve. If longer than 30 minutes, place ribs in an empty cooler and close lid tight to preserve heat.

Just before serving, heat a gas grill to medium-high. Remove ribs from wrapping and drizzle with BBQ sauce. Place ribs on hot grill, bottom side down, for 3 minutes. Flip only once, and grill the top side for another 3 minutes, until meat is slightly charred and sugar from the BBQ sauce has caramelized.