What is the best way to smoke ribs on a propane grill?

What is the best way to smoke ribs on a propane grill?

Smoking ribs on a propane grill can be a delicious and satisfying way to prepare this classic barbecue dish. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it from Papa Ken at Maine Grilling Products.


  • Ribs: You can use baby back ribs or spare ribs, whichever you prefer.
  • Dry Rub: Choose or make a dry rub of your choice. Common ingredients include paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
  • Wood Chips or Chunks: You'll need wood chips or chunks for the smoke flavor. Hickory, apple, cherry, or mesquite are popular choices.
  • Aluminum Foil: For wrapping the ribs.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Optional, for glazing the ribs during the last stages of cooking.


  • Propane Grill: Make sure it has a lid and can maintain a consistent temperature.
  • Smoking Box or Foil Packet: You'll need this to hold the wood chips or chunks.


  1. Prep the Ribs:

    • Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs for better seasoning penetration. You can do this by sliding a butter knife under the membrane at one end and then gripping it with a paper towel to pull it off.
    • Trim any excess fat from the ribs.
  2. Apply the Dry Rub:

    • Generously coat both sides of the ribs with the dry rub. Use your hands to massage the rub into the meat.
    • Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld.
  3. Prepare the Grill:

    • Fill the smoker box with wood chips or chunks and soak them in water for about 30 minutes before use. Drain the wood chips/chunks before placing them in the smoker box.
    • Preheat one side of the grill to a low and consistent temperature, around 225-250°F (107-121°C).
  4. Set Up for Indirect Grilling:

    • If you have multiple burners on your grill, turn on the burner(s) on one side and leave the others off. You'll cook the ribs on the side without direct heat, using the other side for indirect grilling.
  5. Add the Ribs to the Grill:

    • Place the ribs bone-side down on the indirect heat side of the grill.
    • Place the smoking box or foil packet filled with wood chips/chunks directly over the lit burner.
  6. Maintain Temperature and Smoke:

    • Close the grill lid and monitor the temperature regularly. Adjust the burner as needed to maintain a consistent temperature of 225-250°F (107-121°C).
    • Add more soaked wood chips/chunks to the smoking box or foil packet as needed to maintain a steady flow of smoke.
  7. Cook Low and Slow:

    • Smoke the ribs for 3-4 hours, depending on their size and thickness. You'll know they're done when the meat easily pulls away from the bones.
  8. Optional Glazing:

    • If you like, you can brush the ribs with barbecue sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking for a sweet and sticky finish.
  9. Rest and Serve:

    • Remove the ribs from the grill, wrap them in aluminum foil, and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Remember, the key to great smoked ribs is patience and maintaining a consistent low temperature throughout the cooking process. Enjoy your delicious propane-grilled ribs!

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