Baby Back Ribs On the Smoker

You can make delicious tender baby back ribs on the smoker! It takes some time but you will end up with tasty ribs that are perfect for a summer bbq, pool party or for any occasion.

ribs on the cutting board with bbq sauce

Prepping the Ribs

A rack of ribs has a thin little skin over the back side. It is called the silver skin. You will need to remove this.

The silver skin is on the bone side of the ribs. Below you will see a rack of ribs. The silverskin is not on the meaty side.

Rack of ribs before seasoning them

Turn it over and you will see the silverskin.

To remove the silverskin, take a knife and make a shallow cut length-wise down the length of the ribs. Then wedge your finger or a knife (carefully) under that slimy film and start tearing. You can also grab a paper towel and use that to get a good grip, but I usually am able to just pull that right off!

ribs with the silverskin being removed from the rack of ribs for cooking on the smoker

Next, its time for the rub-season the ribs with a rub of your choice. (If your ribs came seasoned, skip this step.)

Choose a rub or seasoning you like. Traeger has delicious seasonings and rubs. You can also use a garlic salt blend or simple seasoned salt.

 ribs being seasoned with seasonings to put on a smoker to cook
Each rack of ribs on this photo has a different seasoning

Liquid Needed for Smoked Ribs

Baby Back Ribs on the smoker need a bit of moisture when they are wrapped in foil for their final smoking round.

You can use apple juice, Dr Pepper, Coca-Cola, Root Beer …anything that is sweet works great (stay away from the diet and zero sodas).

If you don’t want to use juice or soda, or don’t have any on hand, throw 5-6 ice cubes in the foil when you wrap the ribs. You just need some moisture to keep the ribs moist and tender. If the moisture isn’t sweet, it won’t make that much difference – surprisingly ice cubes work great!

Smoked Baby Back Ribs-Round 1

Heat your smoker on 180 degrees Fahrenheit with the lid closed. Let it heat for 10 minutes.

Place your ribs on the grill, meat side up. (Ignore the dirty smoker!)

Let them smoke for 3 hours at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not check on them – 3 hours exactly is all you need.

After the 3 hours is up, take the ribs off the smoker and raise the smoker’s temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. I use a baking sheet and tongs to take them off the grill.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs-Round 2

Take the ribs inside (I use a baking sheet) to wrap them in foil with some liquid. The liquid is used to keep the ribs moist while smoking them the rest of the way.

Ribs on a baking sheet that were just smoked on a smoker for 2 hours and now will get wrapped in foil

You will use 4 sheets of heavy duty foil (I prefer the extra wide heavy duty foil) for each rack of ribs. 2 pieces on the bottom and 2 on top.

Place a rack of ribs on 2 pieces of foil.

A rack of ribs on a piece of heavy duty foil

Fold up the ends (so the juice doesn’t spill out) and pour your apple juice in the foil with the ribs. Do not pour the juice on the ribs, just to the side/under the ribs.

Apple juice poured in foil with a rack of baby back ribs

Take your other 2 pieces of foil and place them on top of the ribs then fold up the sides and ends tightly.

Ribs folded up in foil sealed tightly to be put on the smoker
Two rack of ribs wrapped in foil to be it on the smoker

Back out to the smoker they go on 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Let them smoke in the foil for 2 hours.

Ribs wrapped in foil on the smoker

Once the 2 hours is up, take them out of the foil. I take my ribs back inside on the baking sheet and carefully unwrap them. There will be plenty of juices in the foil so be careful when unwrapping them.

Smoked Ribs after they have smoked for 2 hours in foil on the smoker

TIP: Look at the rib bones. Are they exposed? If they are, your smoked ribs are perfectly tender and smoked!

Up close shot of smoked ribs showing they have cooked enough to exposed the bone which means they are tender

Using a basting brush or spoon, slather the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce on both sides.

Ribs slathered in BBQ sauce

Finally, take the smoked ribs back out to the smoker to heat the barbecue sauce on them. I don’t like to leave them out their too long, you just want the sauce heated.

TIP: A hot grill is great for this step and helps tighten the sauce to the ribs.

Ribs with BBQ sauce on them on the smoker
Ignore the dirty grill!!

Take the ribs off of the smoker. Cut them into portions to eat! Enjoy!

Up close shot of bbq ribs on the smoker
Ignore the dirty grill!
Ribs cut into sections for eating
Up close shot of bbq baby back ribs with dripping bbq sauce

Baby Back Ribs on the smoker are so delicious. We love to eat our ribs with my Crock Pot Party Potatoes.

Foil Packet Loaded Potatoes, BBQ Baked Beans, Homemade Coleslaw, a salad with my Parmesan Vinaigrette, or garlic bread. This is the perfect meal for a Sunday Dinner, Summer BBQ, or Game Night (or as a kickoff to warmer temps)!

Also try my Pulled Pork on the Smoker , Tri-Tip Roast on the Smoker or Whole Chicken on the Smoker.

Baby Back ribs with a dish of bbq sauce

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Up close shot of bbq baby back ribs with dripping bbq sauce

Baby Back Ribs on the Smoker

These ribs are fall-off-the-bone goodness with a smokey taste that cant be beat! 
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Smoking Time: 5 hours
Servings: 4 people or more


  • 1 Rack of baby Back Ribs
  • 3 Tbsp or more Rub/Seasoning of your choice You can use more or less to your liking
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Juice, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer or Coca-Cola *5-6 ice cubes work too instead of juice or soda
  • BBQ Sauce of your choice
  • Heavy Duty Foil for wrapping the ribs *Extra Wide works best


  • Heat your smoker on 180°F for 10 minutes. Keep the lid closed.
  • Remove the silverskin from the bone-side of the ribs.   You can easily do this by making a cut length-wise down the length of the ribs and lifting up the thin filmy layer of  the silverskin and tearing it off. See blog post above.
  • Sprinkle your rub/seasoning on the ribs, making sure the entire surface on both sides is seasoned.
  • Keep the smoker temperature at 180 °F. Place your ribs on the smoker, meat-side up. Close the lid and let smoke 3 hours.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker, using tongs and put them on a large plate or platter. (A baking sheet works great too).
    Place the ribs, length-wise, on 2 pieces of foil (so the foil is doubled up).
    * Make sure your piece of foil has extra room on each end of the ribs so you can close it up tightly.
    *Make sure your ribs stay meat-side up!
    *(I like to use Heavy Duty, Extra Wide Foil because its the perfect width for ribs and it is sturdy)
  • Next, add your juice/soda (or ice cubes) to the ribs, on the side in the foil, not on top on top of the ribs. Slightly fold up the edges of the foil to make a "bowl" so the liquid stays in place.
    Place 2 more pieces of large foil on top and seal up the edges tightly.
    * See the blog post above to see photos of how I wrapped my ribs in foil.
  • Raise the temperature on your smoker to 225°F. Place the foil wrapped ribs (meat-side up) on the smoker, shut the lid and let them smoke for 2 hours.
  • After the ribs have smoked for 2 hours remove the ribs from the smoker. (A baking sheet and tongs work best.
    Slowly unwrap the ribs- BE CAREFUL-they are hot and the steam will rush out!
    Discard the foil. Slather the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and then return the ribs to the smoker to heat the BBQ sauce on them. (Only a few minutes is needed)
  • Once the Ribs are done, take them off the smoker. You can slather the ribs with more BBQ sauce if desired. Cut the ribs into portions for eating and enjoy!
    *Serve with your favorite salad, baked potatoes, fresh garlic bread or fresh veggies!


Any liquid can be used as long as it is sugary and sweet. The ribs just need moisture in the foil so they can stay moist while smoking so your ribs are tender. Ice Cubes work great too!
A grill is great for the last step after basting the ribs with BBQ sauce.  If you love the grilled flavor and love how the sauce sticks/tightens to the ribs when grilled, go right ahead and fire up the grill! Just adjust your time and watch them closely so the BBQ sauce doesn’t burn! 

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should only be used as an approximation.

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