3-2-1 Baby Back Ribs

5 from 5 votes

3-2-1 Baby Back Ribs

If you love ribs where the meat falls off the bone, look no further than this 3-2-1 baby back rib recipe. This method is easy and generally fool proof. It creates ribs that are juicy and so tender that you can pull the meat off the bone with your fingers.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes


  • Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill
  • Z Grills Hickory Wood Pellets


  • racks of pork ribs
  • cup  yellow mustard
  • cup  apple juice
  • cup  brown sugar  light
  • 1/2  cup  honey
  • 3/4  cup  butter
  • cups  of your favorite BBQ sauce 
  • 1/2  cup  Roasted Chipotle Garlic seasoning
  • 1/2  cup  Maple Bacon seasoning
  • 1/2  cup  Bourbon Molasses seasoning


  • Pat-dry your ribs with a paper towel, then peel the membrane off the back of each rack of ribs. Flip your racks to trim any loose ends and excess fat. Tip: Over the middle bones of the rack, slide a butter knife under the membrane. Left and loosen the membrane until it tears. Grab the edge with a paper towel and pull it off.
  • Coat both sides of the ribs with yellow mustard.
  • Sprinkle and pat your rub (Roasted Chipotle Garlic seasoning, Maple Bacon seasoning, and Bourbon Molasses seasoning blend) on all sides of the meat.
  • Set your Pellet Grill at 225 °F.
  • Place the ribs on your grill and smoke them meat-side up for 3 hours.
  • After 3 hours, transfer the ribs to a large, rimmed baking sheet and increase the grill temperature to 275°F.
  • Take 2 long strips of heavy-duty aluminum foil for each rack. Place the ribs bone-side down on the foil and cover all the ribs with brown sugar, butter, honey, and apple juice. Wrap and return them to the grill for another 2 hours.
  • Take the foiled ribs off the grill and carefully remove the foil as the steam will be extremely hot.
  • Generously coat the ribs in your favorite BBQ sauce and return the ribs to the grill for the last hour.
  • Take out the ribs and serve.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Grilled

About The Author

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Z Grills

Z Grills is a grill manufacturer with over 30 years of experience within the industry. With over 650,000 pellet grills sold and 85 million cooks made, trust us.

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  1. Michelle Viscione says:

    5 stars
    We used this recipe yesterday and loved it.

    Our family had a debate about step 7 where it says to “cover all the ribs with brown sugar, butter, honey, and apple juice”. Are you supposed to mix those 4 ingredients together? Or spread them each individually over the ribs?

    1. z grills Author says:

      Hi Michelle,

      So glad you love the recipe! For step 7, spread brown sugar, butter, honey, and apple juice individually over the ribs.

  2. Made these tonight and they turned out amazing!! Recently purchased a ZGrills 11002B. The outside temp was 21° and the grill maintained temperature within 5° the entire cook time. I absolutely love this smoker!

  3. Ron Eifert says:

    So the total cook time should be 6 hours—-3+2+1=6 (at least in my school district) lol

  4. JOHN KEATING says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe! I always receive rave reviews from friends, family, and neighbors. Reviews like, “Divine!, Top Restaurant Quality, and plenty of OMG’S!!!”. All done on my Zgrill 700 Bronze Fire Beast 🔥 So thank you so much for the terrific recipe!

    1. z grills Author says:

      You’re welcome. Have a good day!

  5. 5 stars
    That recipe is the bomb! I actually skipped the last hour of the smoke because the meat was already dalling off the bone. Best ribs I’ve ever made! Thank you! Sweet and tender! So good!

    1. z grills Author says:

      That’s great!

  6. Tara Bray says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe! I think all my family and friends do too…they’ve made me the rib master. My grandkids (all 7 of them) ask: “Why can’t everyone make ribs like Nana’s ribs?” I tried a different recipe ONCE…will only use your 3-2-1 method now. I haven’t heard one complaint. Best recipe…AND best grill! We got rid of our other smoker and our other gas grill and only use our Z Grill now.

  7. Jimmy Faris says:

    Seems like there’s something missing in your recipe. It says in step 6, after three hours to transfer to a baking sheet and increase the temperature. Do you cook/smoke it for another hour? The total cook time says 6 hours, and in step 7, it says to cook for two more hours. Can you clarify please?

    1. z grills Author says:

      Hi, Jimmy. Thanks for your advice. I understand your point, and I’ll simply clarify it in step 7. The cooking time will vary based on the size of the ribs.

  8. Thomas Dudley says:

    5 stars
    I love the recipe and have tried it and it works. Is there a recipe book for Z pellet grills? And how can I get one?

    1. z grills Author says:

      You can buy anyone of our models that get these Z Grills feature recipes on the Z Recipe E-Book, if you already bought Z Grills pellet grill, we can send the recipe E-Book to you.

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