Smoking ribs on a Weber kettle grill is a popular way to infuse tender, fall-off-the-bone rib meat with delicious smoky barbecue flavor. The exact amount of time needed to smoke ribs on a Weber kettle depends on a variety of factors, including the size and type of ribs being cooked, the cooking temperature, and the desired degree of doneness.
On average, smoking ribs on a Weber kettle grill takes between 4-6 hours depending on the size of the ribs and desired tenderness. Baby back ribs take 4-5 hours while spareribs can take up to 6 hours due to their larger size. The ribs are done when the meat has pulled back from the bones by at least 1⁄4 inch and the meat probes tender when poked with a fork or toothpick.
Detailed Cooking Times
Here is a more detailed look at approximate smoking times for ribs on a Weber kettle:
Baby Back Ribs
- 2 racks of baby back ribs (4-5 lbs total): 4-5 hours
- 3 racks of baby back ribs (6-7 lbs total): 5-6 hours
- 2 racks of spareribs (6-7 lbs total): 5-6 hours
- 3 racks of spareribs (9-10 lbs total): 6-7 hours
St. Louis Style Ribs
- 2 racks (5-6 lbs total): 5-6 hours
- 3 racks (7-9 lbs total): 6-7 hours
The ribs are done when you can twist a bone and it rotates easily. The meat should have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by at least 1⁄4 inch. Use a fork or toothpick to test tenderness – it should slide in and out of the meat easily when they are fully cooked.
Factors That Affect Cooking Time
There are several factors that can affect the amount of time it takes to smoke ribs on a Weber kettle grill:
Type and Size of Ribs
The type of ribs will impact cooking time. Meatier spareribs take longer to smoke than smaller baby back ribs. Larger ribs also require more time than smaller slabs.
Number of Racks
The more racks of ribs you smoke, the longer the overall cooking time. Each additional rack adds roughly 1 hour to the total time.
If smoking at a higher temperature (275-300°F), ribs will cook faster than smoking low and slow (225-250°F). Lower, slower smoking gives the most tender results.
Wood Chips vs. Chunks
Wood chips create smoke faster but burn off quickly. Chunks provide smoke over a longer period. Using only chips may require replenishing more often during the smoke.
Pulling the ribs off the grill once they reach an internal temperature of 195-205°F will result in more tender meat than pulling them off based on time alone.
The longer you smoke the ribs, the more tender the meat will become. If you prefer fall-off-the-bone ribs, smoke them for a longer amount of time.
Tips for Smoking Ribs on a Weber Kettle
Follow these tips for smoking delicious, tender ribs on your Weber kettle grill:
- Trim off any excess fat or membrane for more even cooking.
- Rub the ribs all over with a dry rub or spice mix for flavor.
- Use indirect heat by pushing the coals to one side and placing the ribs on the other.
- Add wood chips or chunks to generate smoke – use apple, cherry, hickory, etc.
- Maintain a temperature between 225-275°F by adjusting the vents.
- Flip and rotate the ribs every 1-2 hours for even cooking.
- Wrap ribs in foil at the midway point to power through any stall.
- Brush with barbecue sauce during last 30-60 minutes once bark has formed.
- Let ribs rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Follow this simple step-by-step guide for smoking ribs on a Weber kettle grill:
1. Prepare the Ribs
Start by trimming any excess fat or membrane from the backside of the ribs for better absorption of smoke and seasoning. Peel off the membrane then rub the racks all over with a dry spice rub. Let them sit while you prep the grill.
2. Set Up the Grill for Indirect Heat
Pile charcoal on one side of the grill and light it. Replace the cooking grate once the coals are hot. Add soaked wood chunks or chips onto the hot coals for smoke. The ribs will cook over indirect heat on the empty side.
3. Place the Ribs on the Grill
Lay the rib racks meat side up on the empty side of the grill away from the coals. Try to maintain a temperature of 225-275°F by adjusting the vents. Close the lid.
4. Maintain the Temperature
Monitor the temperature and adjust the vents as needed to maintain 225-275°F. Add more hot coals or wood chunks if needed to replace what has burned through. Keep the lid closed as much as possible.
5. Flip and Rotate
Flip and rotate the ribs every 1-2 hours for even cooking. This helps prevent hot spots. If any areas are cooking faster, rotate that section away from the heat or shield it with foil.
6. Wrap in Foil
Once the ribs have smoked for a couple of hours, wrap them tightly in foil. This steams the meat to get through any stall. Return to the grill to finish cooking.
7. Glaze and Crisp
Unwrap the ribs during the last 30-60 minutes. Brush with barbecue sauce to glaze and increase caramelization. Keep the lid off during this time to crisp them back up.
8. Rest and Serve
When the ribs are fully cooked, remove from heat and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting. This allows the juices to redistribute. Slice between the bones and serve!
How to Tell When Ribs Are Done
Determining doneness for ribs can be tricky. Here are some ways to test when they are ready to come off the grill:
- The meat has shrunk back from the ends of the bones by at least 1⁄4 inch.
- A fork or toothpick slides in and out of the meat easily.
- The meat between the bones cracks and begins to split when bent.
- The internal temperature taken in the thickest part of the meat reaches 195-205°F.
- The ribs pass the bend test – pick up the slab from one end and if it starts to break they are likely done.
The most reliable way is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Look for 195-205°F in the thickest section once the ribs have smoked for the estimated time based on their size.
Having trouble getting perfect smoked ribs off your Weber? Use this troubleshooting guide:
|Ribs taking too long
|Cooking temp too low
|Increase air flow to raise temp
|Thick membrane on ribs
|Trim membrane for faster cooking
|Ribs burning or bitter taste
|Cooking temp too high
|Close vents to lower temp
|Too much smoke
|Use fewer wood chips, space out additions
|Ribs not getting smoke flavor
|Not enough smoke
|Add more wood chips or chunks
|Smoking too hot and fast
|Lower temp to 225-250°F
|Tough, chewy ribs
|Cook longer until tender
|Rotate ribs and distribute heat evenly
|Spritz with juice/cider, don’t oversmoke
|Not enough moisture
|Wrap earlier, add liquid when foiling
Smoking ribs on a Weber kettle grill delivers finger-licking, barbecue-flavored results. For baby back ribs, plan on 4-5 hours of smoking time, while meatier spareribs can take up to 6-7 hours to fully cook low and slow. Maintaining an even temperature between 225-275°F and using an instant-read thermometer are keys to perfectly smoked ribs. With a little practice using the vents to control heat and generating the right amount of smoke, your Weber kettle can produce competition-worthy ribs.