There has been some serious debate between the meat aficionados who love “fall off the bone” ribs and many professional pitmasters who argue that the meat should still be attached to the bone when it is cooked.
This according to the pros, means that the meat should pull off cleanly from the bone only after you bite it. And that it is at this doneness when the taste and texture of the meat are at their best.
The fans of the “fall off the bone” doneness usually resort to the famous 321 rib cooking method, which includes 3 hours of smoking, two hours of smoking the wrapped rack, and 1 hour of smoking while brushing the meat with the BBQ sauce or seasoning of your choice.
Those supporting the other cooking method claim that the meat falling off the bone means that it is overcooked and loses its taste qualities and texture as a result.
But whichever theory you support, when you smoke ribs, it is recommended that they are smoked at a low temperature for as long as it takes for the meat to reach the safe and desired doneness.
But not everybody has the patience and the time to spend many hours smoking the ribs low and slow at temperatures of about 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
For faster results, you can crank up the heat a little to shorten the cooking time of the pork ribs.
If you are wondering how long to smoke ribs at 250 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit, which will save you quite a lot of time for cooking, read on to find out more.
Let’s Talk About Rib Types
Even though this article is about pork ribs, you need to keep in mind that there are several cuts of pork ribs that differ in texture and flavor and require different cooking temperatures and times.
The four main types of pork ribs include the spareribs, the baby back ribs, the St. Louis-style ribs, and the Country-style ribs.
The spareribs are long meat cuts, also referred to as side ribs. They are from the belly behind the shoulders of the hog. Typically a rack of spareribs is flat and broad and includes 11 to 13 bones with meat in between and on top. They contain a lot of fat and not so much meat but are still considered the tastiest option by many.
The back ribs are also called baby back or loin ribs, and sometimes riblets. Each cut usually weighs 1-1.5 lbs. and typically contains more fat than the other pork rib types. It has small and easy-to-handle delicious ribs. Baby back ribs are curved in shape and contain less but leaner meat than the spareribs.
St. Louis-style ribs are from the belly side of the animal and are in the form of a tasty rectangular rib rack that doesn’t include any tips, cartilage, or breastbone.
Country-style ribs come from the shoulder blade end of the animal’s loin and typically contain the least fat and most meat of all other pork rib cuts.
Due to their structure and size, spare ribs take longer to smoke and cook than baby back ribs, so make sure to adjust your cooking time and increase it by about 50% if preparing spare ribs instead of baby back ribs.
In general, you can expect the baby backs to take about 4 hours to cook while the spare ribs will need about 6 hours to reach the desired internal temperature and doneness.
“Falling Off the Bone”
Many new barbecue enthusiasts and backyard pitmasters have a hard time determining when the ribs are ready and when it is time to remove them from the smoker or grill.
The most commonly accepted rule of thumb is that the tastiest ribs have their meat falling off the bone. This means that you can literally pull out the bones without tools or effort so that the meat falls off.
But while some consider this the perfect doneness, many professional BBQ champions disagree and claim that when the meat starts falling off the bone like that, then the ribs are overdone. This, according to the pros, means that the meat has lost some of its moisture and has dried out, which becomes especially evident when the leftovers are reheated.
According to the professionals, the ribs should be removed from the smoker or grill once their internal temperature reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you prefer to have your meat falling off the bone, then you may want to continue cooking them until the internal temperature reaches 203 to 205 degrees. They, though, could be considered overcooked at most
BBQ competitions. The best way to get this result is to use the popular 321 rib method.
It would be best if you used a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the ribs, but you can also check for their doneness by looking at the bone ends. If you can see 1/4th to 1/2th of an inch of bone on end, then your ribs are probably ready.
You can also test the doneness of the pork ribs by bouncing the rack up and down on the grill grate or rack several times. If it cracks around the middle, your ribs are ready and need to be taken out of the smoker or grill immediately.
Perfect Wood for Smoking Pork Ribs
While everyone has a different taste, most pitmasters and enthusiasts prefer using sweet, smoky fruit woods such as apple, cherry, or pecan when smoking the leaner baby back ribs.
Since spareribs have more fat and are larger, you can use wood like oak which has a robust flavor but is not too overpowering.
For an even smokier result, you can add some mesquite or hickory to the oak or other wood chips you are using for the smoking.
How Long To Smoke Ribs At 250
So, finally, we come to the answer to your question about the right time to smoke ribs at a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. When cooking the ribs at this temperature, you can expect an average rack of baby back ribs to be done in about 5 hours and a rack of spareribs to be ready in 6 to 8 hours, depending on their weight.
Baby Back Ribs
If you have decided to prepare baby back ribs at 250 degrees, here are some simple steps to follow if you want the best results:
If the silverskin on the rib rack has not been removed already, use a sharp knife to remove it yourself. It is a gray-colored membrane that runs along the side of the bones. You should also take the time to trim off any excess fat before smoking the meat.
Once you are done, dry the meat by patting each side with a paper towel and proceed to season it.
First, apply Dijon or yellow mustard on the entire exterior of the rack, which will help the dry rub stick. Then use a BBQ rub of your choice and apply it generously, pressing it into the mustard and meat. You can also use a homemade dry rub made of salt, freshly ground pepper, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and other dry ingredients you like.
Set the smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and once it reaches this temperature, place the rack inside without wrapping directly on the cooking grate. Let the ribs cook for about two hours without opening the lid or door.
After two hours of smoking at 250 degrees, take the meat out. Place it on a double-layered heavy-duty aluminum foil which you have drizzled with some melted butter and honey, and wrap the rib rack tightly. Put it back in the smoker and let it cook for another two hours.
Take the ribs out, unwrap them and let them cook for another hour. Make sure that you apply a preferred BBQ sauce periodically during the last 30 minutes of the cooking.
Once they are removed from the smoker, let the ribs rest for about 15 minutes. Then you can separate the ribs and proceed to serve them with a side dish or sauce of your choice.
How Long To Smoke Ribs At 275
If you want to prepare the ribs at a temperature of 275 degrees to save time, we recommend that you opt for the larger and fattier spareribs.
Cooking spareribs at 275 degrees should take about five hours for an average-sized rack. If you are going to smoke baby back ribs at 275 degrees, then you can expect the cooking to take about 3-4 hours.
Here is how to prepare spareribs at 275 degrees for the best results.
Inspect your rack of spareribs and use a sharp knife to remove the silverskin if it is still on. Start from the corner of the grayish membrane, and peel it slowly and carefully with the knife. Make sure that you remove any leftover pieces of the silverskin and trim off any excess meat as well.
Dry the spareribs by patting them thoroughly with paper towels. Then coat the rib rack with some yellow or Dijon mustard lightly to help the dry rub stick better to it.
Use a BBQ dry rub of your preference. Apply it, and massage it into the mustard and the meat.
Set your smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the rib rack in it once the temperature has been reached and stabilized.
Close the lid or door and let the ribs smoke for about an hour. Then flip them over and let them cook for another hour.
Once the two hours are over, use double-layered heavy-duty aluminum foil to wrap the entire rib wrap wholly and tightly to create a seal. Continue cooking the wrapped meat for another two hours.
After the two hours are over, remove the wrapping, place the ribs with the bones side down on the grate, and cook them for an hour. In the last 30 minutes of the smoking, feel free to apply the BBQ sauce which you prefer on the ribs periodically.
Remove the ribs when their internal temperature reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit and let them rest for 15 minutes, separate the ribs and serve them individually with the sauce and sides of your choice.
Even if you decide to take a shortcut and smoke your pork ribs at higher temperatures than recommended, you will still need to have patience and time.
Even though the low and slow smoking of pork ribs calls for a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit, you can still end up with delicious ribs by preparing them at higher temperatures of 250 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just remember to follow the instructions and choose the proper cooking temperature for the right kind of pork ribs you are making if you want to wow your family and friends with delicious, tender smoked meat.
We wish you good luck, and enjoy your mouthwatering smoked ribs!