What is the Tex­as Crutch? Quite sim­ply it’s alu­minum foil:

What is the Texas Crutch - 3

That’s right, the Tex­as Crutch is foil. Let’s back up a lit­tle to dis­cuss the his­to­ry of BBQ and smok­ing. How did it start? Sim­ply put, the rich got all the ten­der cuts of meat, usu­al­ly high­er up on the ani­mal which is where, “Liv­ing high on the hog,” comes from. The rest of us had to make do with the low­er, tougher cuts. In order to make them ten­der the con­nec­tive tis­sues have to be bro­ken down. In order to break them down and still keep the meat juicy, the meat had to be cooked at low tem­per­a­tures. This is why a steak can be grilled at 900 degrees for a cou­ple min­utes but a brisket needs to be smoked at 300 or or less for many, many hours.

Here’s where the Tex­as crutch comes in. The alu­minum foil helps to speed up the process of break­ing down con­nec­tive tis­sues with­out dry­ing out the food. The trick is to smoke, say ribs, for 2 hours, and then put them in the foil. After a cou­ple hours, the ribs aren’t tak­ing on any smoke fla­vor so this isn’t hurt­ing that at all. Inside the foil, the meat will steam in its own juices which hyper accel­er­ates the break­ing down of con­nec­tive tis­sues while retain­ing the juici­ness of the ribs.

I’m going to show you exact­ly how to use the Tex­as Crutch and the dra­mat­ic effect it can have.


1 slab of St. Louis style ribs, mem­brane removed
Your favorite rub
Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Alu­minum Foil
Squeeze mar­garine
Brown sug­ar

What is the Texas Crutch - 1

What are St. Louis style ribs? Sim­ply put, pork spare ribs that are trimmed to be uni­form the entire length of the slab:

What is the Texas Crutch - 2

I want­ed to com­pare apples to apples, so I cut this slab in half then hit them with salt and the rub:

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Then I put them on my pel­let smok­er at 225:

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After 2 hours one slab is head­ing into the Tex­as Crutch of alu­minum foil:

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Lay down a bed of Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Alu­minum Foil, squirt the mar­garine and sprin­kle the brown sug­ar:

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Place the ribs, meat side down, on the foil:

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Wrap the foil around them and then put the ribs, inside the Tex­as Crutch, back on the smok­er next to the oth­er half slab:

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Close the lid for anoth­er 60–90 min­utes and raise the temp. I upped the temp to 350 when I closed the lid.

Some peo­ple pull the ribs from the foil and place them back on the smok­er to firm up the bark for 30–60 min­utes. For this expla­na­tion, I’m just going to pull them after 90 min­utes in the foil. So total cook time is 3.5 hours. Two hours at 225 and the last 90 at 350. Here are the foiled ribs sliced and plat­ed:

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In the pic above, you can see a nice smoke ring, the bones got some good seper­a­tion from the meat and you can see that the meat came clean off the side of the one bone on the upper right when sliced. That’s going to be a the­me in a sec­ond.

Now the unfoiled ribs have a lit­tle more pro­nounced smoke ring:

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Oth­er than that, there isn’t much dif­fer­ence between the two until you take a bite. Here’s a bit from a rib that was not put into the Tex­as Crutch:

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That’s a clean bite that BBQ com­pe­ti­tion judges are look­ing for. And here’s a bit from the ribs foiled in the Tex­as Crutch:

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All of the meat came off clean in one bite. While com­pe­ti­tion judges would scoff at this, the major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans prefer their ribs this way. If you want fall off the bone ribs, put them in foil. Oh, and don’t for­get what’s left in the foil:

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That liq­uid is fla­vor gold, my friend! Driz­zle it over the ribs:

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So we have two racks of ribs, cooked for the exact same amount of time and one is com­pe­ti­tion ten­der and the oth­er is fall off the bone. The only real dif­fer­ence between them is one was wrapped in the Tex­as Crutch. I foil pork shoul­ders and briskets as well. Foil is your friend. Use it. You can foil and come short of fall off the bone ribs by sim­ply cut­ting down the time in the foil. The steam action with the marg­er­ine and brown sug­ar real­ly add some fla­vor to the ribs. Foil them for about 30 min­utes and place back on the grill (reserv­ing the juice in the foil for lat­er). When the bones are peak­ing out about 1/3 of an inch, they’re com­pe­ti­tion per­fect. Remove them from the heat, driz­zle that sauce over them and bask in the acco­lades of your BBQ guests.

If you have any ques­tions, feel free to leave them below or send me an email.

Reynolds Wrap com­pen­sat­ed me to be includ­ed in this post.

What is the Tex­as Crutch?
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
An expla­na­tion of the Tex­as Crutch as well as its ben­e­fits and how to use it when grilling ribs
  • 1 slab of St. Louis style ribs, mem­brane removed
  • Salt
  • Your favorite rub
  • Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Alu­minum Foil
  • Squeeze marg­er­ine
  • Brown sug­ar
  1. Hit the ribs with salt and your favorite BBQ rub, bone side first
  2. Pre­pare the smok­er for 225 degrees and put the ribs on with some smoke wood
  3. After 2 hours, lay down a bed of foil and hit it with some squeeze mar­garine and brown sug­ar
  4. Place the ribs, bone side down, on the foil and wrap up into a pouch
  5. Place back on the ribs and crank up the heat to 350
  6. After 90 min­utes remove from the foil and serve
Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Orig­i­nal Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to col­lege with a suit­case and a grill where he over­cooked, under­cooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thou­sands of fail­ures, and quite a few suc­cess­es, near­ly two decades lat­er he start­ed a web­site to show step by step, pic­ture by pic­ture, fool­proof instruc­tions on how to make great things out of doors so that oth­ers don’t have to repeat the mis­takes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas


https://t.co/lVWgniik3V#Grill­Porn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
I nor­mal­ly go burg­er instead of cheese steak sam­mich, but then I saw this absolute stun­ner… https://t.co/wnMIEkbCIA https://t.co/70F5Ro5H82 — 4 hours ago
Scott Thomas

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