You’ve probably heard about the hot-and-fast brisket trend in barbecue—but what about ribs? Are hot-and-fast ribs a thing? No doubt, a traditional low-n-slow barbecue is still the best way to get the most flavor and almost guarantee tender, juicy meat. However, not everybody has a spare 8 to 10 hours to cook ribs the traditional way. I wanted to find out all there is to learn about cooking ribs at high temperatures, so I asked the barbecue experts.
The best way to smoke hot-and-fast ribs is to set the temperature of your smoker between 300⁰F and 350⁰F. Cook the ribs unwrapped to increase smoke absorption and flavor. It’s important to rotate and spritz the ribs every 15 minutes when cooking ribs at high temperatures. Also, be careful not to burn the barbecue sauce during the glazing stage.
- Set the temperature of your smoker between 300°F and 350°F
- Cook the ribs unwrapped to increase smoke absorption and flavor
- Rotate and spritz the ribs every 15 minutes when cooking ribs at high temperatures
- Be careful not to burn the barbecue sauce during the glazing stage
- Trim any excess fat from the ribs and remove the skin if using spare ribs
- Apply kosher salt the night before (or at least 2 hours)
- Apply a binder to the ribs (mustard or olive oil)
- Apply a thick layer of barbecue rub
- Use a strong smoking wood such as hickory or mesquite
- Cook the ribs for 1.5 to 2 hours. Spritz the ribs every 15 to 20 minutes with apple cider vinegar or apple juice
- Flip the ribs after each spritz
- In the last 15 minutes, thoroughly spritz the ribs, then apply a barbecue sauce with a basting brush
- Use an instant-read thermometer and remove the ribs at 200°F internal meat temperature
- Allow the ribs to cool for 5 minutes before serving
- Hot-and-fast ribs will take between 1.5 and 2 hours to reach the ideal meat temperature of 200°F
- Hot-and-fast ribs will have less smoke flavor, and may not be as tender as low-and-slow cooked ribs
- Use a strong wood for hot-and-fast cooks to infuse as much flavor as possible
- Baby back ribs
- Barbecue rub
- Yellow mustard or olive oil
1. Trim any excess fat from the ribs. If using spare ribs, remove the skin.
2. Apply kosher salt the night before (or at least 2 hours)
3. Apply a binder to the ribs (mustard or olive oil)
4. Apply a thick layer of barbecue rub
5. Set the temperature of your smoker between 300°F and 350°F
6. Use a strong smoking wood such as hickory or mesquite
7. Cook the ribs for 1.5 to 2 hours. Spritz the ribs every 15 to 20 minutes with apple cider vinegar or apple juice.
8. Flip the ribs after each spritz
9. In the last 15 minutes, thoroughly spritz the ribs, then apply a barbecue sauce with a basting brush.
10. Use an instant-read thermometer and remove the ribs at 200°F internal meat temperature.
11. If you don’t have a thermometer, perform a tenderness test by inserting a toothpick into the ribs. It should feel like poking butter when tender.
12. Allow the ribs to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Serving Size:242 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 668 grams
What Are Hot-and-Fast Ribs?
Hot and fast ribs refers to a method of cooking ribs at a high temperature for a shorter period of time, as opposed to low and slow cooking. This method is typically used for baby back ribs, which are smaller and more tender than spareribs.
To cook hot and fast ribs, the ribs are first seasoned with a dry rub or marinade, then placed on a preheated grill or in a preheated oven. The grill or oven should be set to a temperature of around 425-450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the ribs should be cooked for 20-30 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the exterior is crispy and caramelized.
The hot and fast method is a great way to cook ribs if you’re short on time, but it does require paying close attention to the cooking process to ensure that the ribs don’t burn.
Times and Temperatures
|Pork Rib Type||Cooking Method||Temperature||Time|
|Back Ribs||Hot and Fast||225-250°F||2-3 hours|
|Spareribs||Hot and Fast||225-250°F||3-4 hours|
|St. Louis-style Ribs||Hot and Fast||225-250°F||3-4 hours|
|Baby Back Ribs||Hot and Fast||225-250°F||2-3 hours|
|Country-style Ribs||Hot and Fast||225-250°F||2-3 hours|
|Back Ribs||Low and Slow||225-250°F||4-6 hours|
|Spareribs||Low and Slow||225-250°F||5-7 hours|
|St. Louis-style Ribs||Low and Slow||225-250°F||5-7 hours|
|Baby Back Ribs||Low and Slow||225-250°F||4-6 hours|
|Country-style Ribs||Low and Slow||225-250°F||4-6 hours|
Different Types of Ribs
|Pork Rib Type||Description|
|Back Ribs||Also known as “loin ribs,” these are the most tender and lean of the pork rib cuts. They come from the loin area and are typically smaller and meatier than other types of ribs.|
|Spareribs||Cut from the belly area, spareribs are larger and fattier than back ribs. They have a good amount of meat and a lot of flavor, but can be more difficult to cook evenly.|
|St. Louis-style Ribs||Cut from the spareribs, these ribs have had the sternum bone removed and have been trimmed to a uniform shape. They are meatier than spareribs and can be easier to cook.|
|Baby Back Ribs||Cut from the loin area, these are smaller and more curved than spareribs. They are leaner and more tender than spareribs and are often preferred for their flavor and texture.|
|Country-style Ribs||Cut from the pork shoulder, these are not actually ribs at all, but rather a cut of meat that is similar in shape and texture to ribs. They are meatier and less fatty than other types of ribs.|
Pros and Cons of Hot and Fast
|Hot and Fast Ribs||Low and Slow Ribs|
|Faster cooking time||Longer cooking time|
|More intense smoke flavor||Less intense smoke flavor|
|Tender and juicy meat||Tender and juicy meat|
|Suitable for smaller cuts of meat||Suitable for larger cuts of meat|
|More consistent results||More variable results|
|Can be difficult to achieve the perfect bark||Can achieve a more even bark|
|Can dry out the meat if not cooked properly||Can result in a more moist meat|
|Not suitable for larger cuts of meat||Suitable for larger cuts of meat|
|Can be more challenging to maintain a consistent temperature||Can be easier to maintain a consistent temperature|
|Can be less forgiving if cooking time and temperature are not managed correctly||Can be more forgiving if cooking time and temperature are not managed correctly|
|Oak||Oak is a great wood for smoking ribs. It has a strong and distinct flavor that can stand up to the bold flavor of ribs.|
|Mesquite||Mesquite is a bold wood that can give your ribs a nice smoky flavor. It’s perfect for hot and fast cooking because it burns hot and fast.|
|Pecan||Pecan is a mild wood that is perfect for smoking ribs. It has a nutty and sweet flavor that is a great complement to the natural flavors of the meat.|
|Apple||Apple wood is great for low and slow smoking. It burns slow and has a sweet, fruity flavor that is perfect for ribs.|
|Cherry||Cherry wood is a great wood for smoking ribs. It has a mild, sweet flavor that complements the natural flavors of the meat. It’s perfect for low and slow cooking.|
Wrapping ribs can be a great way to add flavor and moisture, but it’s important to be careful not to overdo it. Wrapping the ribs too early or for too long can result in a mushy texture.
Wrapping ribs in foil is a controversial method, some people swear by it but I prefer to smoke my ribs without wrapping them, I believe it creates a better bark and texture.
Wrapping ribs in foil, also known as the Texas crutch, is a great way to add a burst of flavor to your ribs. You can add a mixture of butter, brown sugar, and your favorite seasonings to the foil to create a delicious glaze.
Wrapping ribs in foil is a great way to add moisture and speed up the cooking process. It’s especially useful for low and slow cooking where the meat can dry out.
A good rub is essential for great ribs. It’s the foundation for flavor and helps to create a delicious bark.
A rub should be balanced, with a good balance of salt, sugar, and spice. It should complement the natural flavors of the meat, not overpower them.
A good rub is the key to a great rib, it’s the first layer of flavor and it will help the smoke to adhere to the meat
A good rub is the secret ingredient to great ribs. It’s the key to creating a delicious crust and adding layers of flavor.
Spritzing your ribs with a mixture of apple juice and vinegar can help to add moisture and flavor to the meat while smoking.
Spritzing with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water can help to create a nice crust on the ribs and also add some tangy flavor to the meat.
Spritzing is not something I do, but some pitmasters use it to add moisture to the meat, I prefer to use a mop sauce.
Spritzing your ribs with a mixture of beer and apple juice can help to keep the meat moist and add some sweetness to the ribs.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke Hot-and-Fast Ribs?
On average, it takes between 1.5 and 2 hours for hot-and-fast ribs to reach the ideal meat temperature of 200°F when cooking at 325°F to 350°F. Obviously, times will vary depending on the size of the meat and the temperature of the smoker. Compare this to the low-and-slow method when ribs usually take about 4 to 5 hours when cooked between 225° F and 275° F.
Can Ribs Cooked Hot-and-Fast Still Taste Good?
Hot-and-fast ribs can still taste good if cooked right, but when compared to low-and-slow ribs, there will be a noticeable difference in smoke flavor, tenderness and texture. The less time the ribs have on the grill means less time to render fat, absorb smoke, and break down connective tissue. That’s not to say the ribs cooked fast won’t be tasty—they just won’t be as good.
Less Smoke Flavor
Hot-and-fast ribs are usually cooked between 300° F and 350° F. I’ve done them at this temperature and they take around about 1.5 to 2 hours. Ribs cooked this fast are definitely not as smoky as a low and slow rack—but they’re still delicious.
The longer the ribs sit on the grill, the more smoke flavor they will absorb. Think about it. A rib rack cooked at 350° F may only have a total cook time of 2 hours. That’s 2 hours of smoke absorption. Compared this to a low-and-slow cooked rack that will spend the first 3 hours taking on smoke, plus another hour at the end of the cook. So a low-and-slow rib rack may have around 4 hours to absorb smoke whereas a hot-and-fast rack will only have two hours. That’s a big flavor difference.
Use A Strong Wood For Hot-and-Fast Cooks
Since ribs cooked fast will not be in the smoker for very long, it’s important to use a strong smoking wood to infuse as much flavor as possible. Mesquite is a great wood choice for short cooks—especially if you want an intense smoke flavor in a short period. Mesquite is a unique tasting wood that is common in Texas, and some say it’s an acquired taste.You need to be careful using mesquite for longer cooks as in can overpower and make the meat taste bitter.
Hickory is probably a safer choice for hot-and-fast ribs. Two hours of hickory smoke should be enough time to get those smoke flavors into the ribs. As always, experiment by mixing-and-matching wood flavors.
For low-and-slow ribs, I would usually mix combinations of hickory, apple, cherry, or pecan. However, since hot-and-fast ribs aren’t going to get enough time to absorb smoke flavor, I would make sure one of the stronger woods had a higher ratio.
Will Hot-And-Fast Ribs Be As Tender?
With tough cuts like ribs, time at a low temperature is one way we tenderize the meat. So when we cook hot-and-fast, we’re breaking all the rules of low-and-slow cooking. Meat tenderness is determined by several things:
- Cooking time
- Cooking temperature
- The amount of connective tissue in the cut of meat
- Salting, brining and marinading
Give The Ribs Every Chance To Be Tender
Since you will be breaking the rules and cooking ribs at a high temperature, you need to do everything else right to give the ribs the best chance to be tender. With some good decisions and a few techniques, hot-and-fast ribs don’t have to be tough and chewy. Here’s a few tips to improve your chances:
- Buy ribs with less connective tissue, such as baby backs
- Salt the ribs the night before
- Cook the ribs to an internal meat temperature of 200° F
Brine The Ribs
Season the ribs with kosher salt prior to cooking. Allow about 2 hours for the salt to penetrate the meat. Use 1/2 a teaspoon per pound of meat.
Baby Backs – The Best For Hot-and-Fast
The type of ribs that you buy will also make a huge difference with tenderness. For example, a rack of baby backs will be more tender than a rack of spare ribs when cooked hot-and-fast. Baby backs have less gristle and connective tissue—which means they won’t be as chewy. Baby backs are also smaller, which means they don’t need as long. Spare ribs are fattier, contain less meat, which is why they need longer.
Spare Ribs – Can They Survive The Hot-and-Fast Cook?
Spare ribs contain a lot of fat and connective tissue, so they need to be cooked low-and-slow to break down and tenderize. When cooked right, spare ribs have an amazing flavor and texture. You might find spare ribs a little chewy when cooked hot-and-fast. Also, some of the fat won’t render, so you’re better off trimming the ribs beforehand.
Ribs Need Time To Render Fat
The other potential problem with hot and fast is the fat may not have enough time to render. Allowing meat time at low temperatures is one reason why we cook low n slow.
Trim any excess fat that won’t render or burn. Baby backs work best for hot and fast although you can try spare ribs.
Take Ribs Over 200°F
The USDA recommends pork be cooked to 145°F. Although pork ribs would be safe to eat at this temperature, they will be too tough to be enjoyable. If you want ribs that are close to fall-off-the-bone tender, you need to take them upwards of 170° F into the 200° F range.
Ribs are difficult to judge because you don’t want the meat too tender. Meat so tender it falls off the bone is good in most cases, but with ribs, you want the meat attached to the bone so you can chew it off. Part of the enjoyment of eating ribs is picking them up with your fingers and gnawing the meat from the bone.
Can You Use A Thermometer on Ribs?
Measuring the internal temperature of ribs can be tricky because it’s difficult to insert a standard 5 or 6 inch thermometer probe into a rack of ribs. Some thermometer companies such as Fireboard and ThermoWorks have designed probes for smaller cuts of meat. They produce small 1 inch probes perfect for monitoring a rack of ribs. If you’re having trouble measuring the temperature with a thermometer, use a tenderness test instead.
The Best Smoker For Hot-and-Fast Ribs
Best smoker for hot and fast ribs are offset smokers or charcoal smokers. Although pellet grills can do a good job of hot-and-fast, there won’t be as much smoke flavor on the ribs. Some Traeger and Pitboss grills have super smoke mode, but this only operates at lower temperatures. Electric smokers aren’t suitable for hot-and-fast ribs because electric smokers don’t go beyond 275°F.
Double Your Smoke Output With Smoking Tubes
Since hot-and-fast ribs will have less time in the smoker, this means less smoke flavor. Smoking tubes are a great way to double your smoke output. These work especially well with pellet grills, gas smokers and electric smokers. Fill a tube with wood pellets and place it in your pellet grill or electric smoker. Smoke tubes are a great way to infuse more smoke flavor into the meat in a short space of time.
The Science Behind Tender Ribs
Depending on the temperature you are cooking your ribs, the substance and texture of the meat will change. The texture and structure of the meat changes when the internal meat temperature reaches 150°F. When the meat reaches 160° F, the collagen melts and the structure changes. The collagen is transformed into a gelatin like texture. This is why a brisket tastes so delicious when cooked to an internal temperature of around 200° F.
So in order for the collagen to melt, it needs time at low temperatures. So when you cook ribs hot-and-fast, the collagen doesn’t liquefy as it would when cooked low-and-slow. Meat is muscle tissue formed by proteins such as myosin, collagen, and actin. The only way these proteins can break down is through the cooking process. Through heating, the proteins such as collagen denature into other substances.
The ribs will become drier the longer you cook them, however the collagen will dissolve and transform into gelatin at temperatures above 165° F. The muscle fibers in the ribs hold everything together, but once the internal meat temperature goes beyond 160°F, the meat fibers relax and change structure. So if we want the collagen in the ribs to liquify, we need to take the ribs to an internal temperature of at least 180°F and hold it at that temperature for as long as possible.
The Tenderness Test
The best way to cook ribs is to perform a tenderness test rather than cooking to exact times and temperatures. One of the most common ways to test ribs for tenderness is by performing the twist test, the bend test and the toothpick test.
The Twist Test
Take hold of a bone and give it a twist. If the bone come clean off, then it’s too tender. Ideally, you want some attachment. You want some resistance when you twist the bone.
The Toothpick Test. Take a toothpick and insert it into the meat in between the bones. You want the meat to feel like you’re poking a stick of butter. This is how you know that you have reached the ideal tenderness.
The Bend Test. The other tenderness test is the bend test. This involves bending the rack and looking for cracks in the meat. If the meat doesn’t crack, then the ribs haven’t tenderized enough.
Tips For Cooking Ribs At High Temps
Cooking ribs at such high temperatures carries some risks. However, if you do everything else right, you can still get great results. Here are some tips.
Don’t Burn The Sauce
When cooking hot-and-fast, be careful not to burn the sauce. Most barbecue sauces contain a lot of sugar. As you would know, sugar burns easily. Make sure you leave the saucing for the final stage of the cook. Keep a close eye on the ribs so the sauce doesn’t burn, and keep spritzing to prevent any charring.
Watch The Salt In The Rub
Watch the salt content of the dry rub. If you pre-salt the ribs, make sure the rub doesn’t contain a large amount of salt. Most store-bought rubs will have a high salt content. Homemade rubs allow you to control the salt. For a good homemade rub recipe, check this out.
Protect The Ribs By Cooking With Indirect Heat
Cooking ribs in the 350°F puts the meat at risk of charring, so make sure you keep the ribs in the ‘cool-zone’. If you’re using a charcoal smoker, set up the smoker for indirect cooking by placing the coals on one side and the meat in the cool zone. If your smoker has a heat deflector, make sure it’s in place to shield the meat.
There’s nothing worse than a patchy bark on your ribs. The main reason this occurs is when the rub doesn’t stick to the meat. To avoid a patchy bark, apply a binder to the ribs using olive oil or yellow mustard prior to adding the dry rub. A binder, or slather, will help the rub stick to the meat.
- - ½ Cup Paprika
- - ½ Cup Salt
- - ½ Cup Sugar
- - ½ Cup Granulated Garlic
- - ¼ Cup Granulated Onion
- - ¼ Cup Chili
- - ¼ Cup Cumin
- - 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- - 2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
- - 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
- Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
- Store rub in rub shakers
When cooking at such high temps, it’s important to spritz the ribs. Every 15 minutes, spritz the ribs with apple cider vinegar or apple juice and flip the ribs. This will keep the ribs moist, help them cook evenly, and prevent the edges from burning. However, be careful not to wash the rub off the ribs early in the cook.
Apply A Glaze
In the last 15 minutes of the cook, apply a barbecue sauce. Before applying the sauce, spritz thoroughly 5 minutes prior to saucing. Place the ribs back on the heat to set the glaze. Be careful not to burn the sauce.
Cooling, Not Resting
Don’t rest the ribs as you would a brisket or pork butt. Ribs only need to cool for 5 minutes before eating. If you were to wrap the ribs in foil and let them rest an hour, they will turn to mush.
Do You Brine Ribs?
Rubbing salt into the ribs prior to cooking is a great way to get some extra flavor and moisture into the meat. Large cuts like brisket need hours for the salt to penetrate, however, ribs are different. Ribs are such a thin cut of meat, so they don’t need to be brined for long, being such a thin cut of meat.
Keep Flipping The Ribs
Be sure to rotate the ribs if you’re cooking hot and fast. This is especially important if you are using a charcoal smoker where the heat source is coming from below. Rotate the rack or flip the ribs regularly during the cook. I would rotate every 15 to 20 minutes and give them a spritz at the same time.
Do You Wrap Hot-And-Fast Ribs?
Under normal circumstances, it’s usually a good idea to wrap ribs because it helps them tenderize and remain moist. However, for fast cooks, wrapping will prevent the ribs from absorbing smoke flavor. Since the ribs are only going to be in the smoker for 1.5 to 2 hours, you don’t want to shield the ribs from the smoke. If you wrap the ribs, perhaps cover them during the saucing stage to prevent the sauce from burning.
Hot-And-Fast Ribs In A Pellet Grill
My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools
Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.
Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.
Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.
Wireless Thermometer: The latest thermometers on the market have no wires and can be controlled by wi-fi via your phone. Airprobe 3 is the best of this technology.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.
Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.