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Award Winning Competition Ribs Recipe

Sliced competition pork ribs
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4.17 from 86 votes
If you want to produce award-winning ribs, here is a recipe to help you get it done. Once you have a few contests under your belt, feel free to make minor tweaks to make the recipe uniquely yours.

Serve with: your favorite local beer, but wait until after turn-ins.

Main Course


Servings: 1 slab of competition ribs


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours


  • 1 slab St. Louis cut ribs
  • 1/4 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt per pound of meat
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 stick margarine such as I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (1/4 cup (56.5 g))
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works. For this recipe, you want to use 1/4 teaspoon Morton coarse kosher salt per pound (453.6 g) of meat.
About the mayonnaise: The use of mayonnaise is completely optional but is something that I have done for years. As with the more popular yellow mustard, the mayonnaise serves as a binding agent for the dry rub without altering the flavor of the finished meat. Unlike mustard, mayonnaise is high in fat, something that can only benefit the ribs).
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Remove the membrane from the slabs of ribs (read more on removing the membrane here).
  • Season the ribs with Kosher salt. If you can, give the salt 1 to 2 hours to be absorbed. The process of salting in advance is called dry brining. The rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat, but ribs consist of only about 50% meat, so use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. You can simply eyeball it by sprinkling on the same amount of salt you would sprinkle on the ribs if they were served to you unseasoned. 
  • Fire up. Prepare a smoker for indirect cooking. Alternatively, you can set up a charcoal grill for 2-zone cooking by placing a chimney full of lit charcoal briquets on one side of the grill's charcoal grate in order to create direct and indirect cooking zones. Adjust the smoker or grill vents to bring the temperature to about 225°F (107.2°C) and add two to three chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that one half of the grill is off and the other half is heated enough to maintain a temperature of approximately 225°F (107.2°C) on the indirect side.
  • Once the smoker or grill is ready, brush both sides of ribs with mayonnaise and season with Meathead's Memphis Dust dry rub.
  • Cook. Place the slabs of ribs meat side up on the main cooking grate as far away from the heat source as possible. Cover the smoker or grill. Allow the ribs to smoke until the meat just begins to shrink back from the ends of the bones, about 3 1/2 hours.
  • Lay out two double layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil approximately eight inches longer than the ribs. Cut the stick of butter into 1/2 tablespoon pieces and top each double layer of foil with two tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon of honey drizzled over the butter, and two tablespoons brown sugar sprinkled over the top. Lay the ribs meat side down on the butter, honey and brown sugar mixture. Place another two tablespoons margarine, a tablespoon of honey, and two tablespoons brown sugar evenly on top of the bone side of each slab of ribs. Fold up the sides of the foil to create a boat, pour in the apple juice, and loosely seal the foil.
  • Place the foiled ribs sealed side up on the smoker or grill and cook until the ribs shrink back from the ends of the bones by 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6.4 to 12.7 mm), about 1 hour.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker or grill and cautiously open the foil packet to allow the steam to escape. Remove the ribs from the foil and set them back on the smoker or grill meat side up. Cover the smoker or grill and allow the ribs to cook until tender but not falling off the bone, about 20 minutes. We prefer to use the "bend test." Use tongs to pick up one end of the slab of ribs, then bend them slightly. If they are ready, the slab with bow until the meat starts to crack on the surface.
  • When they are ready, brush sauce on both sides of the ribs and turn them meat side up on the smoker or grill. Cover the smoker or grill and cook until the sauce sets and becomes tacky, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Serve. Remove the ribs from the smoker or grill, and slice. For competition, set 4 to 5 ribs side-by-side in the turn in box and top with another 4 to 5 ribs.
    Competition rib turn-in box