Are you craving some mouthwatering pork ribs, but they’re frozen solid in the depths of your freezer? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Today, I want to share a little secret with you: you can cook frozen ribs in the smoker and still achieve incredible results. Sounds unbelievable, right? Well, let me tell you all about it.
My good friend Al, a seasoned moderator at the Smoking Meat Forums, recently tried smoking some frozen ribs out of sheer desperation. He was pressed for time and couldn’t wait for them to thaw like he normally would. To his surprise, they turned out absolutely delicious! Naturally, this piqued my curiosity, and I just had to give it a shot. Guess what? I had tremendous success too, and now I’m here to share this technique with you.
Al’s Method and Options
Al graciously gave me permission to use his original images for this write-up, so you can see exactly how it’s done. But first, let’s go over the basics. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 or more racks of frozen pork ribs*
- Yellow mustard (hotdog mustard)
- 3 TBS Jeff’s Original rub
*This recipe is written for baby back ribs, but spare ribs and St. Louis style spare ribs work equally well. Just keep in mind that they may take an extra hour to reach 160°F (71°C) in the first stage of the cooking process.
The Magic Begins
Let’s say it’s 10 AM and your significant other is desperately craving some pork ribs. You’re faced with the challenge of the frozen rib fortress. Usually, you would have to let them thaw overnight or spend hours changing the water in the sink. But not today! Cooking them frozen allows you to start right away and uses the cooking time to thaw them. The whole process takes around 5-6 hours, depending on the type of ribs.
Now, before we proceed, there’s a small detail to consider: the membrane. Typically, I recommend removing it before cooking ribs. However, because we’re dealing with frozen ribs, you must either remove the membrane before freezing or after they’re cooked. It’s your choice.
The Mustard Binder
Al suggests using yellow mustard as a binder, but it’s optional. I tried it both ways, and the seasoning sticks just fine without the mustard. However, I personally prefer using mustard for that extra flavor kick. Apply a thin layer to help the rub adhere to the ribs, and you’re good to go.
Al keeps it simple with just salt and pepper for his rub, but I like to use Jeff’s Original rub. It adds a perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness, without overpowering the taste of the meat. Apply the seasoning generously to both sides and the edges of the ribs.
Into the Smoker
Now it’s time to fire up your smoker. Aim for a temperature of around 250°F (121°C) if possible. Al used his trusty Lang smoker for this, but any smoker will do. Once the smoker is hot and ready, place the rack of ribs directly on the grate and let them cook for approximately 2 hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). Note: if you’re using spares or St. Louis style ribs, it may take closer to 3 hours.
Option: Foil Wrap for Extra Tenderness
Although optional, wrapping the ribs in foil at the 160°F (71°C) mark will make them incredibly tender. Here’s how you do it: lay out a large piece of foil on a table or cutting board. Pour about ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (ACV), ¼ cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup of honey, and about ¼ cup of barbecue sauce onto the foil. Add half a stick of butter, cut into equally sized pats. If you have Jeff’s Original barbecue sauce, I highly recommend using it.
Next, place the rack of ribs meaty side down on top of the flavorful concoction and wrap the foil tightly around them. I suggest using a double layer of heavy-duty foil to prevent any steam from escaping.
Place the wrapped baby back ribs back into the smoker for another 2 hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 195°F (91°C) in the meat between the bones. Alternatively, you can also use the oven for this step if it’s more convenient, as the ribs are now tightly wrapped and won’t be affected by the smoke.
Once they’ve reached the desired temperature, remove the ribs from the foil. Resisting the urge to devour them right away, Al likes to put them on a gas grill over high heat (around 600°F) to burn off the membrane and/or add some sticky sauce if desired. Remember to place the rack of ribs membrane-side down on the grill grate. Depending on the heat of your grill, it should only take about 3 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.
The Grand Finale
Finally, it’s time to slice up those tantalizing ribs and bask in their deliciousness. You’ll be amazed at how tender and flavorful they are, considering they started off frozen. I’ve tried this method multiple times, both with and without the foil wrap, and the results are consistently fantastic. The frozen aspect doesn’t harm the ribs; if anything, it seems to increase their moisture and create a delightful smoke ring.
Give It a Shot!
Now that you know the secret to smoking frozen ribs, it’s time to put your culinary skills to the test. I would absolutely love to hear about your experience with this technique. Feel free to share your feedback and any modifications you made along the way. Together, we can create a community of rib-smoking enthusiasts who love to experiment and enjoy amazing flavors.
In case you’re interested, Al’s original post can be found over at the forum.
And hey, if you’re looking for more mouthwatering recipes and tips, visit Ekilove – your go-to destination for all things delicious. Happy smoking!