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Old School Baby Back Ribs Recipe

What is an “old school” rib you may be asking? Long before the days of competition BBQ (and using every trick available to turn ribs into something that looks closer to freshly varnished furniture than pork), there was a way to turn out great ribs. Ribs that had great bark, almost a crunch on the exterior, and tender smoked meat near the bone. Just time, smoke and basting, or “mopping” as they called it, was used. This baby back ribs on the grill recipe shows you how to achieve those great ribs of yesteryear. Notice this recipe doesn’t call for any sauce. You are welcome to sauce your ribs—make them your own. Back in the day, though, sauce was served on the side to dip your ribs in.


  • 2 racks of baby back ribs
  • ¾ C Grilla AP Rub
  • ¼ C yellow mustard or vegetable oil

Ingredients - Mop

  • 2 C apple juice
  • 1 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 4 TB Grilla AP Rub

Ingredients - Rib Dip


Start by picking out some nicely marbled baby backs or St. Louis cut ribs if you prefer them. The St. Louis ribs will likely cook a little faster as they are typically a little more uniform in shape and thickness.

Next pull the silver skin and rinse your ribs. The rinse is important because during the butchering process, sometimes bone dust or bone fragments can be left on the meat. Lightly coat your ribs with the mustard or oil and then dust with your rub. Allow your ribs to rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. The oil/mustard will help really pull the spices and herbs in the rub into the meat since the majority of herbs and spices are oil soluble.

Bring the ribs to room temp about 45 minutes before you place them on the Kong, Silverbac, or Grilla. Mix together all the mop ingredients and find a brush that will soak up the mop well so it can be applied.

Preheat your Grilla Grill to 225 to 250 degrees. If you are using a charcoal grill, you want to set it up for indirect heat. Also there will be a fair bit of run off from the mop, so if using a pellet grill, you may want to set a pan under the grates or check your catch can often so it does not overflow.

Put the ribs on the grill and smoke them for 1.5 hours. At this point the mopping starts. Repeat the mopping process every 30 to 45 minutes.

At about the 4.5-point of the cook, start checking the ribs for tenderness. The meat should be pulling back from the bone and if you lift up one of the bones in the middle of the rack, it should break cleanly with little to no meat stuck on the bone. Once the ribs are done, you have a couple of options. You can redust the ribs and serve them “dry” for more of a Memphis-style rib (which has fantastic bark and texture) and serve with the dip above. You could also use the rib dip as a final glaze if you want more of a Kansas City-style. Both bbq rib recipes will be crowd pleasers.

How to Pick the Best Baby Back Ribs for the Pellet Grill

Although having the right wood pellet smoker grill and a great traditional baby back ribs recipe on hand matter, so does the cut of ribs you choose.

Our pitmaster recipe recommends that you opt for St. Louis-style spareribs if possible. They tend to have a consistency that works quite well on the smoker. Plus, they cook fairly evenly, which you and your hungry guests will appreciate.

When choosing baby back ribs for your pellet grill, select ones with a balanced level of marbling. Marbling simply means fat interlaced with meat. When you cook your traditional baby back ribs low ‘n slow, the fat will help break down and naturally tenderize the meat. Of course, you want to avoid a totally fatty set of ribs with far too little meat.

If you can find whole slabs of St. Louis-style baby back ribs, go for them. Whole slabs have not been cut in half by your butcher. They allow you to complete an entire rack of ribs at once. Besides, showing off a huge, long slab of baby back ribs makes you look like jungle royalty.

Finally, take a “no bones about it” approach. That is, pick ribs with lots of meat and fat covering the bone. Exposed bones will start to fall out and cause your cooking to happen non-uniformly. That can mess up your cooking times and cost you some of your savory ribs.

Preparing Your Smoker Grill to Smoke Baby Back Ribs

Before tossing your ready-to-go ribs on your Silverbac or other Grilla Grills smoker, do yourself a favor and clean it well. Make sure those grates are shining and tidy. The less built-up muck from other smokes, the better.

Because cooking ribs on the grill can get a little messy with drips, either add a drip pan or cover the bottom of the smoker grill with something to catch the juices. Believe us when we say you will be happy you took a few additional steps. Easy scrubbing afterwards means you can enjoy the bounty!

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Holland, Michigan 49423