If you are a BBQ lover, you’ve probably heard that 225 or 250 °F is the sweet spot for smoking ribs to perfection.
However, if you’re willing to sacrifice some time for taste, smoking your ribs at a lower temperature, like 175 or 180 °F, can produce uniquely flavorful, juicy, and incredibly tender meat.
But how long to smoke ribs at 175 or 180 °F, and what’s the best cooking technique? In this article, I will discuss the optimal smoking time and method for low and slow ribs to enjoy fall-off-the-bone, mouthwatering ribs.
Looking for a Quick Answer?
Smoking ribs at 175 to 180 °F using the 5-4-1 cooking method can take around 8 to 10 hours until they are perfectly tender and fall off the bone. But the smoking time may change depending on factors like the rib’s size and type, the smoker you use, and the humidity outside.
Smoking Ribs At 175 or 180 – A Quick Overview
Cooking ribs at a low temperature of 175-180 degrees Fahrenheit can produce tender, juicy meat with a rich smoky flavor. However, it is a lower temperature to cook ribs, so it requires a long cooking time to finish the smoking session.
Remember that the smoking duration of ribs (10 hours) is not fixed because it depends on multiple factors that can prolong or shorten this duration.
For example, if you smoke beef ribs in an electric smoker, you may finish smoking quicker than smoking them in a charcoal or offset smoker. Similarly, it will also depend on the size and thickness of the ribs you smoke.
The weather outside also impacts the cooking process. Suppose you want to smoke ribs in the cold.
You may need to spend more time smoking the ribs than usual because it can make you struggle to keep the charcoal lit or maintain the smoker temperature.
Lastly, you should keep monitoring the ribs’ internal temperature throughout the smoking session and remove them from the smoker when they are between 195 to 205 °F.
Why Do Ribs Take So Long To Smoke At 175/180 °F?
One of the major and evident reasons ribs take so long to smoke at 175 or 180 degrees Fahrenheit is the lower temperature settings. If you want to make them ready within 5 to 8 hours, I would recommend you try smoking your ribs at 225 or 250 °F.
Another prominent reason behind a longer cooking session is that the ribs are tough and contain a good amount of fat and connective tissue, such as collagen.
Now, when you are cooking ribs at a lower smoker temperature, the connective tissues inside them will break down very slowly, resulting in a longer smoking session than expected.
But after spending 10 hours, you get to serve your guests perfectly cooked ribs with distinctive smoky flavor and maximum tenderness.
Is smoking ribs at 175 Or 180 °F Safe?
You should keep two things in mind while smoking your ribs, no matter what temperature you use. First, keep them out of the danger zone, which is between 40 to 140 °F.
Secondly, cook the ribs to at least the safest internal temperature, which is 145 °F or above (recommended by USDA).
If I talk about whether it is safe to smoke ribs at 175/180 or not, I consider it a lower temperature that takes longer to prepare ribs but does not compromise food safety. Also, 175 °F is high enough to keep the ribs out of the danger.
How To Smoke Ribs At 175/180 Using The Popular 5-4-1 Method
When it comes to smoke beef and other ribs at 175 or 180 °F, 5-4-1 is the best method that I would like you to try.
Now, if you regularly smoke ribs, you must be familiar with the 3-2-1 and 2-2-1 smoking methods, and it will also help you understand the science behind the 5-4-1 method.
5-4-1 ribs smoking method refers to 5 hours of smoking followed by 4 hours of smoking ribs after wrapping them in aluminum foil and then smoking for final hour after unwrapping them again and applying favorite barbecue sauce.
When cooking ribs using this method, things you need to ensure are, keeping the temperature inside the smoker consistent and monitoring the internal temperature of the ribs.
So, let’s move forward and explore in depth how this method works and how you can smoke finger-licking ribs with it. But first, I would like to share the ingredients you will require for cooking ribs and making a dry rub for them.
Ingredients Required To Make Spice Rub
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
Ingredients Required To Smoke Ribs
- One rack of beef ribs of 3 to 4 pounds
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or apple juice
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- Your favorite barbecue sauce
Preparing The Ribs
The preparation of ribs is an essential step that you should not overlook. The first step is to remove the membrane on the bottom side of the ribs, which can make the ribs tough or chewy when smoked.
So, use a sharp knife to loosen the membrane at one end, then use paper towels to grip it and pull it off the ribs.
The next step is to apply the dry rub to both sides of the ribs and ensure no part is uncovered with the spices.
Once you have seasoned the ribs nicely, let them rest for 15 to 30 minutes to absorb the rubs, which will help in enhancing the meat’s flavor and taste. If you have time, you can go with overnight resting for the seasoned ribs.
Setting Up The Smoker
Choose a quality smoker and preheat it by setting its temperature to 175 or 180 °F until its cooking chamber reaches the required internal temperature.
I prefer a pellet smoker for to smoke different types of ribs, but you can also go with a charcoal, gas, or electric smoker. This can take 15 to 30 minutes, depending on what type of smoker you are using.
While your smoker preheats, you can add wood chips or chunks of your desired flavor to produce the smoke. You can also season the smoker’s grates with cooking oil to prevent food from sticking.
Placing The Ribs Inside the Smoker
When you’ve set the smoker accordingly, and it has reached 180 °F, place the seasoned ribs bone side down inside the smoker.
It is important to note that if you place the ribs presentation side down, the fat may gather inside the curved part of the ribs and disallow the smoke to penetrate deep inside the meat.
So, place the ribs bone side down and close the smoker’s lid to trap heat and smoke inside. You can also use a rib rack, if available, for smoking your ribs.
Smoke Ribs For 5 Hours
This is the first round of rib smoking that will continue for 5 hours, as per the requirements of the 5-4-1 smoking method. During this duration, the ribs will absorb the smoky flavors and cook slowly to break down the connective tissues.
While the ribs cook for 5 hours, you need to ensure that the smoker continue working with a consistent temperature, which is achievable by not opening the smoker’s lid frequently or using a water pan.
When you unnecessarily open the lid, it loses heat and smoke, which can prolong the smoking session.
Wrap The Ribs And Smoke For Another 4 Hours
After 5 hours of continuous smoking, remove the ribs from the rib rack that is placed inside the smoker and set them aside, maybe in a disposable aluminum pan.
Get two pieces of foil or butcher paper and put them on each other. Also, ensure the foil papers are long enough to cover the ribs.
Next, you need to make a foil pouch by folding up the two sheets of aluminum foil because this is where your half-smoked ribs go.
After placing the ribs in the pouch, don’t forget to pour some (1/4 cup) apple juice or apple cider vinegar in it.
Along with this liquid, you can also add brown sugar and butter that will melt during the smoking and enhance the overall flavor and taste of the ribs.
When the wrapping part is done, carefully put the wrapped ribs back in the smoker and let them smoke for the next 4 hours.
This time, insert a meat thermometer inside the thickest part of the meat to monitor its internal temperature and avoid overcooking.
Unwrap The Ribs
When the second round of smoking completes after 4 hours, remove the wrapped ribs from the smoker and set them on a countertop. Open the foil pouch and take the ribs out using pair of cooking tongs so that you don’t burn your fingers.
The leftover from the apple juice or cider, you can use it later when cutting the ribs or when brushing them in the last hour of smoking.
Smoke Ribs For The Final Hour
After unwrapping the ribs, place them back inside the smoker and continue smoking them for another hour.
In the last hour of smoking, you can brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce every 15 to 20 minutes to keep them moist and add more flavor.
Keep the meat thermometer in place to monitor the internal temperature and stop smoking when the temperature is between 195 to 205 °F.
Resting The Ribs
Lastly, let the ribs rest for at least 20 minutes to redistribute all the juices around the meat.
You can rest them by wrapping them inside foil paper on the countertop or inside the cooler if you wish to rest ribs for a bit longer, probably one hour.
Finally, your one rack of beef ribs is ready, and you can impress your guests or family members by presenting them with delicious, flavorful, and tender ribs.
Recommended Spice Rub Options for Ribs Preparation
Let me share some popular spice rub recipes that can enhance the flavor of your ribs, including a basic rub, Memphis rub, Kansas City rub, and Texas rub.
|Simple Rub||Brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika|
|Texas Rub||Pepper, chili & garlic powder, cumin, salt|
|Kansas City Rub||Brown sugar, paprika, garlic, onion & mustard powder|
What is Danger Zone When Smoking Meat?
The temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F is known as the “dangerous zone” because bacteria like salmonella and E. coli can develop exponentially.
People are at risk from this bacteria, which can also result in food-related illnesses, including food poisoning. Food safety is crucial when cooking meat to prevent exposing yourself to a foodborne illness.
Although I personally don’t prefer smoking ribs at 175 to 180 °F because it is time-consuming, it can still result in tender, flavorful meat that falls off the bone.
So it depends on personal desires whether you are looking for a quick smoking session or a low-and-slow one.
I wish you good luck in smoking the best ribs of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 180 too low to smoke ribs?
No, 180 °F is not too low to smoke ribs. You can smoke your ribs at 180 degrees without concern about the danger temperature zone, but remember it is a lower temperature in terms of smoking duration, so it can take around 8 to 10 hours to smoke ribs properly.
Can you overcook ribs in a smoker at 180 degrees?
Generally, 180 °F doesn’t overcook your ribs because it is a lower temperature. But if you don’t monitor the internal temperature of the ribs and prolong the smoking session unnecessarily, the ribs can be overcooked and may become dry or tough.
Should I Smoke Ribs At 180 Or 225?
It depends on your taste preference and the cooking time you have. 180 °F will take longer duration and can result in extremely tender and juicy ribs, while 225 °F is an ideal temperature for achieving relatively quick results with reasonable tender, flavorful meat and a slightly crispy texture.
Robert Gill, a BBQ enthusiast, and Senior Author at FaveGrills.com bring his extensive knowledge of BBQ equipment and exciting recipes to the team. With his outgoing personality and love for BBQ, Robert plays an essential role in the FaveGrills community, sharing his passion and expertise through informative articles and gear reviews.