3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs

For all you fall off the bone ribs lovers, I give you 3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs. By doing the 3-2-1 method, the ribs will be fall off the bone every time. While doing the wet brine, these ribs will be the best in the neighborhood because wet brining does three things: 1) Makes the ribs juicier. 2) Makes the ribs more flavorful. 3) Makes the ribs more tender. That’s a win, win, and yet another win, which is why we do 3-2-1 wet brined pork ribs. 

Equipment:
Heavy duty foil or peach butcher paper
2 cherry wood chunks
Large marinating container or 2 resealable plastic bags.

3-2-1 Wet Brine Pork Ribs Ingredients:

  • 2 racks St Louis style pork spare ribs (substitute baby back ribs but cut cooking times about 20%)
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided (for 2 braising packets)

Wet Brine:

  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 1 (12 oz) light beer or imperial
  • 1 cup apple juice or cider

1 cup dark brown sugar (sub light brown sugar if that’s what you have)

  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 cups ice cubes

BBQ Rub:

  • 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese 5 spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove

3-2-1 Ribs Braise:

  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3/4 cup hickory bbq sauce
  • 3/4 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or 2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

3-2-1 Wet Brine Pork Ribs Instructions:

Prep Pork Spare Ribs: We are using St. Louis style ribs which simply means spare ribs that are trimmed to be a symmetrical rectangular chunk of meat and bones. This should ensure that each slab of ribs cook evenly with no dried out and burnt tips anywhere.

Place the ribs bone side up (meat side down) on a cutting board. Use a paper towel and pull off the membrane and discard. Trim any excess fat and discard:

To Make the Brine: In a large pot combine, bring to a boil, 4 cups water, beer, apple juice, brown sugar, salt, garlic, onion, Chinese 5 Spice. Turn heat to a simmer, and stir until brown sugar and salt dissolve.

Remove brine solution from heat and pour into a large marination container that is big enough to hold the ribs. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of water and the ice cubes. Refrigerate until cool. Once the wet brine reaches room temperature or colder, place ribs into brine. If the brine does not cover the pork ribs turn at least 3 times during the 12 hour brining:

3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs

Refrigerate the pork ribs, in the brine, for 6 to 12 hours. Any longer and the ribs could be cured and be similar to the consistency of ham:

3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs

Rinse and dry the ribs at the end of the brine period.

BBQ Rub Instructions:

Salt pork ribs on both sides. Whisk the remaining spices in the dry rub ingredients list:

3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs

Normally there is salt in the rub, and there is some shown here, but it is not needed. There’s enough salt in the brine that transferred into the meat so the ribs don’t need any more salt. 

Spray the pork with water on both sides to act as a binder. Massage the BBQ rub into each side of the ribs. Set aside while we make the braising liquid. 

To Make Braising Liquid: In a medium saucepan, bring to just under a boil, all of the Braise ingredients. Turn heat to simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Reserve 1/2 the sauce for the braise, and the remaining 1/2 half for a glaze. Optional, to the glaze stir in 1/2 cup red plum jam, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, and additional hoisin (1/4 c), bbq sauce (1/4 c), and rice vinegar (1/3 c) to taste.

Smoke Pork Ribs: Set the smoker for two-zone cooking, in this case a Primo ceramic grill which is a kamado style grill with a heat deflectors placed between the fire and grill grates which shields the ribs from the direct heat of the fire (which is what makes the kamado grill brilliant):

Place a drip pan under the area the ribs will be cooking which can be a lipped baking pan or simply a foil pan (the latter is below):

Set the smoker for 250°F. Add 2 chunks of cherry wood for smoke to add more flavor in the form of that sweet smoke:

Place the ribs on the grill meat side up, close the lid for 3 hours of slow smoke action. Basically now that the ribs are brined and seasoned we are going to do the 3-2-1 Ribs method, which is guaranteed to make fall off the bone ribs every time. The 3-2-1 Ribs method is 3 hours of smoking ribs, 2 hours of the smoked ribs in the foil and an hour back over the grill sans foil. And even with this recipe we cut down that last hour to 30 minutes. Want to be short of fall off the bone (competition style), smoke for 2 hour, foil for 45 minutes and go back on the grill for about 20 minutes. 

At the three hours of smoking ribs, it’s time for the 2 in 3-2-1 ribs. Per rack of ribs, place two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or peach butcher paper) on the prep area, position smoked ribs meat side down, and drizzle on about 1/3 cup of braising liquid, add 2 tablespoons of butter to each braising packet. Wrap ribs tightly and pinch to seal the edges of foil tight.

Place the rib packet(s) back on the smoker for 2 hours:

After 2 hours in the foil on the grill, remove the foiled and smoked ribs from the Primo:

Unwrap the foil or butcher paper, making sure to spread that delicious glaze inside the paper/foil over the St. Louis style ribs:

We are well on our way to fall off the bone ribs at this time, so this won’t take much longer to finish these ribs.

Raise the heat to 300°F. Put the ribs back on the smoker over direct heat for 30 minutes (remove the heat deflector):

3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs

During this last 30 minutes, frequently brush with glaze and flip the St. Louis style ribs over a few times to keep them from burning over the direct heat which also thickens and caramelizes that glaze:

3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs

Remove pork ribs from the smoker, and let rest for 8-10 minutes, slice and serve. Enjoy what should be your fall off the bone ribs!

3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs

Editor’s Note ~ If you ever have any doubt about brining, simply take a single slab of ribs, cut in half and brine one half slab and don’t brine the other and then grill them identically. I’ve done that side by side more than a half dozen times with various friends and families and brined ribs have won 100% of the time. 

Also, if you love what Merry did with this recipe, you can find all sorts of recipes she has done (and not just BBQ) on her website. Also, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or send Merry an email

Also, you can follow us on our GrillinFools Facebook page and Instagram.

3-2-1 Wet Brine Pork Ribs

Pork ribs, wet brined and then smoked using the 3-2-1 method to make the perfect fall off the bone ribs, otherwise known as 3-2-1 Wet Brined Pork Ribs
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 hrs 30 mins
Course: Ribs
Cuisine: Barbecue
Keyword: 3-2-1, 3-2-1 method, 3-2-1 Ribs, Ribs, BBQ Ribs, BBQ, Barbecue, Barbecue Ribs, Brine, Brined, Brined Ribs, Wet Brine, Wet Brined Ribs, Wet Brined Pork Ribs, Pork Ribs, Pork, Primo
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

  • 1 Primo ceramic grill
  • 2 sheets aluminum foil Optional
  • 2 sheets Peach butcher paper Optional
  • 2 chunks Cherry wood
  • 1 Large marinating dish Optional
  • 2 Large Ziplock bags Optional

Ingredients

  • 2 Racks Ribs St. Louis Style
  • 4 tbsp Unsalted butter

Wet Brine (or use dry)

  • 6 cups Water diivided
  • 12 oz Your favorite beer
  • 1 cup Apple juice or cider
  • 1 cup Dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Granulated garlic substitute garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Granulated onion substitute onion powder
  • ½ tbsp Chinese five spice
  • 2 cups Ice

Dry Rub

  • 2 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp Ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp Granulated garlic substitute garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp Ground mustard
  • ½ tbsp Chinese five spice
  • ½ tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp Ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp Ground clove

3-2-1 Braise

  • ¾ cup Hoisin sauce
  • ¾ cup Barbecue sauce
  • ¾ cup Apple juice or cider
  • cup Rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Garlic chili sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground ginger Substitute 2 tsp fresh grated ginger

Instructions

  • With the pork rib bones facing up, use a paper towel, and pull off the membrane and discard. Trim any excess fat and discard
  • In a large pot combine, bring to a boil, 4 cups water, beer, apple juice, brown sugar, salt, garlic, onion, Chinese 5 Spice. Turn heat to a simmer,  and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. 
  • Refrigerate the pork ribs, in the brine, for 4 to 12 hours. Rinse and dry the ribs at the end of the brine period. 
  • To Make BBQ Rub: Whisk the spices in the dry rub ingredients list. Spray the pork with water on both sides to act as a binder. Massage the spice into each side of the ribs.
  • To Make Braising Liquid: In a medium saucepan, bring to just under a boil, all of the Braise ingredients. Turn heat to simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Reserve 1/2 the sauce for the braise, and the remaining 1/2 half for a glaze. Optional, to the glaze stir in 1/2 cup red plum jam, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, and additional hoisin (1/4 c), bbq sauce (1/4 c),and rice vinegar (1/3 c) to taste. 
  • Smoke Pork Ribs: Set the smoker for two-zone cooking. Make or place a drip pan under the area the ribs will be cooking. Set the smoker for 250°F. Add 2 cherry wood chunks for smoke. 
  • Place the ribs on the grill meat side up, close the lid for 3 hours.
  • Per rack of ribs, place two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the counter, position ribs meat side down, and drizzle on about 1/3 cup of braising liquid, add 2 tablespoons of butter to each braising packet. Wrap ribs tightly and pinch to seal the edges of foil tight.
  • Place foil rib packets back on the smoker for 2 hours.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker, and unwrap the foil. Cook the pork ribs over direct heat for 30 minutes. Raise the heat to 300°F. Continue to cook the ribs, frequently brushing with glaze, and flipping the ribs over a few times so they don't burn over the direct heat.  
  • Remove pork ribs from the smoker, and let rest for 8-10 minutes, slice and serve. Enjoy!
Merry Graham

Merry Graham is a Southern California award-winning competitive cook, home cook, recipe developer, food photographer, and brand ambassador. She is a mother of 4, grandma to 5 and an all-around foodie; named the Healthiest Cook In America by Bobby Flay in 2012! She is well respected in the cooking competition world, winning more contests than she can count while cashing in on over $150,000 in checks and prizes.

Merry has appeared on Food Network's Clash of the Grandmas and as a top 3 finalist on The Rachael Ray Show Great American Cookbook Competition. She has consecutively competed and placed in the top ten in the sandwich category in the nation's elite cooking competition, World Food Championships. As a competitor, her culinary trips have taken her to Scotland, the Philippines, Cancun, Panama, and several US states.

“A Merry Recipe” has been her main outlet of social media where her tasty and eye-appealing dishes are enjoyed by thousands. What ignites her now is “Grilling Grandma”, her latest adventure on social media where she shows off creative and unique smoke and grill recipes. Have you seen her Grill Baked Sourdough Boule with Smoked Garlic Herb Butter?

Merry shows no signs of slowing down. She swims regularly, and travels with her husband of 44-years. She loves connecting with other Foodies through social media and has become a member of a team of live-fire cooking called Social Feasts. As part of the Social Feasts live-fire influencers, she has plenty of opportunities to develop recipes for smoke and grill meats along with photographing social media content. Anyone who knows Merry will tell you SHE brings the FLAVOR that gives life to a party!

Merry Graham

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