Nothing says summer like some ribs on the smoker. But there is an age old question that we need an answer to: when you wrap ribs is foil or peach butcher paper best? We’ve heard a lot of opinions on the internet about which is best. We’ve tried both but have never put them side by side to see the difference. We are going to go through the process of how to smoke ribs and share our results at the end.
Spare Ribs vs. Baby Back Ribs
For this experiment we are using spare ribs. You may be wondering what the difference is between spare ribs and baby back ribs. Spare ribs are cut from the lower part of the hog behind the shoulder. They usually have 11 to 13 ribs. Baby back ribs are cut from where the ribs meet the spine after the loin in removed. They are called “baby back” because they are smaller than spare ribs.
How to Smoke Ribs
First, coat them with a little bit of yellow mustard. Now, this may upset some of you at home. We’ve heard from award-winning competition barbecuers who use mustard and also heard from award-winning barbecuers who don’t use any mustard. It really comes down to your personal preference. We like to use it because it really helps the seasoning stick to the ribs. To season, we used Rescue Rub from Code 3 Spices. You can find this online at code3bbqsupply.com. If you don’t have this in your cabinet, we offer a free recipe on our website for our flavor bomb pork rub. It goes really well with ribs and pulled pork. Thoroughly coat your ribs with the rib rub.
Once your smoker is rolling smoke at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, throw those spare ribs on. Leave them on for about 2.5 hours or until an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is reached. A good tip is to spritz your ribs every hour with juice to really lock in that moisture. You can really use anything, we recommend pineapple, apple or orange juice.
Wrap Your Ribs
Now i’ts time to wrap ’em up. Lay our your foil, you really want to have more foil than less. Throw down a couple pieces of butter. Butter is going to help provide some richness and some moisture. Sprinkle some brown sugar and spritz with orange juice. Follow the exact same process, but with peach butcher paper. Set the ribs meat side down, bone side up. Wrap up the ribs just like you’re wrapping up a Christmas present…but better. You really want to get it airtight to keep all that moisture in. Now they’re going to go back on the smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit and we’re going to leave them there for an hour.
Once that hour is up, unwrap your ribs. Right after you take these out of the wrap, you lose a lot of seasoning in those juices. So go ahead and apply just a little bit more seasoning it. Go ahead and get them back in that smoker for about another 30 minutes. This is going to allow the ribs to really bark up. Let them rest for about 10 minutes. A good tip to tell if your ribs are completed: when you pick them up the bark will start to crack.
Smoked Spare Rib Results
So, let’s talk about some of the differences we saw. They are almost indistinguishable. The foil wrapped ribs have a slightly better bark relative to the butcher paper. The other thing is how the ribs stick out on the foil versus peach butcher paper. We think the foil was wrapper tighter creating more of a braise, causing the meat to pull back a little bit further. As far as taste, they are both tender, delicious smoked ribs.