Unwrapping the Secret to Competition-Style BBQ Ribs

As the Grillionaire, I know a thing or two about competition-style BBQ. In these high-stakes events, it's all about standing out from the crowd with unique and unforgettable flavors. And that's exactly what I achieved with my latest recipe for BBQ ribs.

Using my trusty Backwoods Smoker Chubby 3400, I developed a recipe that combines traditional BBQ flavors with a few secret ingredients for an unforgettable taste experience. But the real magic of this recipe comes from a technique that I call the pre-wrap or the Prime Wrap technique.

After seasoning the ribs with a blend of dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, and other unique spices, prime wrap them in plastic and let them come up to room temperature for 15-30 minutes. This technique not only helps the seasoning to penetrate the meat, but it also makes for a more even cook when it's time to put the ribs on the smoker.

Once the ribs have come up to temperature, it's time to get them on the Backwoods Smoker Chubby 3400. Get the smoker up to 250ºF and let it stabilize. We will not be going any higher than that for the remainder of the cook. I use a combination of charcoal and wood chunks to achieve the perfect level of smokiness. I also use a Typhur Instaprobe to monitor the internal temperature of the ribs. When the temperature reaches 199ºF, I pull the ribs off the smoker and let them rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. What is KEY for this recipe is that you DO NOT wrap your ribs for the entire cook!

Now, let's talk about the star of the show: the dry rub. This blend of dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and unique spices like ground coffee, coriander, and cardamom, creates a subtle heat profile on the bottom of the ribs, while the top is counter-sweet with the addition of molasses, apple cider vinegar, and bourbon in the sauce. The result is a perfectly balanced flavor profile that will have your taste buds dancing with joy.

But what really sets this recipe apart is the use of the Prime Wrap technique. It may seem like a small step, but it makes a big difference in the final result. By allowing the ribs to come up to temperature in the plastic wrap, the seasoning has more time to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender final product.

If you're looking to up your BBQ game and impress the judges at your next competition, this recipe is the perfect place to start.

Here is the recipe:


  • 2 racks of St. Louis style ribs, trimmed
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of ground coffee
  • 2 tablespoons of ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of ground mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon
  • 2 cups of cherry wood chunks


  1. Preheat your chamber smoker to 250°F (120°C) and add the cherry wood chunks to the charcoal.

  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, ground coffee, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground mustard seed, ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, and ground allspice to make the dry rub.

  3. Sprinkle the dry rub generously on both sides of the ribs, ensuring that they are evenly coated.

  4. Prime Wrap (pre-wrap) the ribs in plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 15-30 minutes. This will allow the rub to permeate the rubs even more and at a faster rate.
  5. Place the ribs on the smoker with the meat side up.

  6. Close the lid and let the ribs smoke for 1 hour.

  7. While the ribs are smoking, combine the molasses, apple cider vinegar, and bourbon in a pot and let it simmer over low heat. You are looking to warm it up, not reduce it.

  8. After 1 hour, brush the molasses mixture onto the meaty side of the ribs, and flip them over so that the bone side is facing up.

  9. Brush the remaining molasses mixture onto the bone side of the ribs.

  10. Close the lid and let the ribs smoke for another hour, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 195°F (90°C).

  11. Remove the ribs from the smoker and let them rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting them into individual portions.

With its unique blend of traditional BBQ flavors and secret ingredients, it's sure to be a hit with both the judges and your guests. And if you're a visual learner, be sure to check out the video below! 

Until next time, keep those grills fired up so the flavor doesn't go down! 

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