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A stack of BBQ ribs

Barrel-cooked St. Louis-style ribs recipe


The barest-bones, simple recipe for cooking ribs in a barrel smoker. 


  • 3 slabs St. Louis-style ribs
  • BBQ rubs of your choice


  • Start a fire in your barrel smoker, larger lumps of charcoal are better. Use the air probe from your Smoke X4 to monitor the temp and try to hone it in around 275°F (135°C). Use Billows, if you have it.
  • Remove the membrane from your ribs.
    • We chose not to trim the meat on the back of the ribs so that they’d be a little thicker and resistant to the heat in the bottom of the barrel.

removing membrane from ribs

  • Season your ribs somewhat generously with your favorite BBQ rubs.
  • Insert the meat hooks into the slab of ribs. Counting from the sturdier end of the rack, insert one hook about 3 ribs down. Then insert a second hook two ribs further down. Hook the two hooks together.

A slab of ribs on a barrel cooker hook

  • Try hanging your ribs in the barrel. If they still hang too low (ours were touching the coals), remove them and cut off a rib or two from the end. 
  • Insert a probe into each rack of ribs about halfway down the rack and hang them in the smoker. Set the high-temp alarm on your Smoke X4 for 195°F (91°C). 

Inserting a probe in the ribs

  • If you like, you can spritz them every hour or so, but we didn’t. 
  • When the high-temp alarm sounds, verify the temp with your Thermapen.
  • Remove the ribs from heat, let them rest for a few minutes at least, and serve them up!

Slabs of ribs