Do you want to learn how to make ribs that could knock the socks off any BBQ judge? My Competition Style Ribs are a universally friendly recipe that even an expert pitmaster will appreciate. These ribs have all my favorite BBQ flavor profiles; sweet, savory, and a little Mississippi heat.
This recipe guarantees some of the juiciest smoked ribs you’ve ever tried. Don’t just take my word for it. Fire up the grill and make some for yourself. You won’t be sorry!
You won’t believe how quickly award-winning ribs can come together. These ribs require little prep work but taste like you spent all day babysitting the grill. That’s the power of a good smoker! I wanted to give this pork the star treatment, so I seasoned it and added Sweet BBQ Sauce and Butter Bath. This created juicy, fall-off-the-bone ribs.
These ribs have a “muddy style” finish, a Memphis BBQ staple that gives the meat a fabulous crust. I recommend my Competition Style Ribs to any pit boss looking to level up his grilling game. This recipe is proof that dreams do come true.
The right combination of ingredients creates magic in the kitchen. With these sauces and rubs, you’ll truly be unstoppable.
- Heath Riles BBQ Hot BBQ Rub. This spicy rub helped me win the 2022 Memphis in May Rib Championship. It’s my best secret blend of spices and brown sugar that will make your tastebuds sing. I’m confident it’ll help you be a champion, too.
- Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Rub. This ingredient has a special place in my heart, as it’s the first one I perfected. You’re going to want to stock up on this one. It’s fantastic on ribs, chicken, veggies, and bloody marys.
- Heath Riles BBQ Butter Bath and Wrap. I also used this butter bath in my Memphis in May smoke. It’s an easy step that makes a difference in your final outcome. You can mix it with water or apple juice as I do. I can honestly say there’s nothing like this on the market!
- Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce. This best-selling sauce is a must-have for ribs, beef, chicken, and baked beans. You won’t believe how versatile it is. After receiving so many demands, I sell this sauce by the gallon. Get it while you can.
- Apple Juice. I love using apple juice in my butter bath. It gives the pork a fruity note without overpowering the entire cut of meat.
- French’s Mustard. Mustard is my favorite binder because it glues the spices to the ribs and adds a hint of twang. Use smooth, not-grainy mustard like French’s for best results.
- Baby Back Pork Ribs. I used a prime line of ribs for this recipe. The marbling in these cuts of meat is just gorgeous, and the membrane is easy to remove. These ribs look great and taste even better.
The Smoker Setup
Here’s the main equipment I used to smoke these Competition Style Ribs. For more of my must-haves, check out the equipment and tools section.
- Smoker. I used the Outlaw Patio Smoker for this smoke. I love this model because it gives you a hands-on experience and is a fun change of pace. This is a great smoker for those who like to customize their equipment. With a wide variety of upgrades, you’ll never get bored.
- Charcoal. I filled the Outlaw with Royal Oak Charcoal. I love this brand because you get a good clean smoke with no fillers. I also added a log of cherrywood for good measure.
The Process for Making Competition Style Ribs
You can find a detailed procedure for this recipe in the video and recipe card at the bottom of this post. For now, enjoy this brief overview.
- Prep the Outlaw Patio Smoker. The first thing I did was load my Outlaw with charcoal and cherrywood. Then, I got it up to about 275℉.
- Remove the membrane. If you’re eating at home, you can leave the membrane on the ribs. For competitions, they’re looking for top-notch ribs that include no membrane. After removing the ribs from the package, I patted the meat dry using a paper towel. Then, I went under the edge of the membrane, following the curve of the bone, and peeled off the membrane.
- Add binder and seasonings. I added a layer of mustard to the ribs and massaged it with my hands. This is where heavy-duty gloves come in handy! Then, I took my Hot BBQ Rub and laid a fine layer over the binder. I used my hand as a guide to ensure the entire rib got seasoned. Competition style ribs are judged by one bite, which means you must ensure the entire rib is flavorful. Next, I added a layer of my Sweet BBQ Rub, following the same technique. Then, I flipped the ribs and repeated the process on the top side.
- Sweat in and start smoking. I let the ribs sweat in for about 15 minutes, then stuck them on the Outlaw. I kept my ribs unwrapped and cooked them bunched up for about 1 hour.
- Spritz and stoke. After that first hour, I spritzed my ribs with water to keep them moist and added another log of wood. I repeated this process every hour until the ribs had cooked for 2 ½ hours.
- Wrap the ribs. When that 2 ½ hour mark was almost up, I made my Butter Bath and Wrap. I took 1 ½ cups of apple juice and ½ cup of my Butter Bath and mixed it until smooth. Then, I took my meat off the Outlaw and divided the mixture between the two slabs of ribs.
- Finish cooking. I wrapped the ribs and stuck them back on the smoker for another hour, until they reached about 204℉-208℉.
- Sauce the ribs. I took the pork off the smoker and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Then, I unwrapped them and brushed them with a good layer of my Sweet BBQ Sauce. I finished the ribs “muddy-style” with a thin dusting of my Sweet BBQ Rub. I put the ribs on the grill for 15 minutes to get the sauce tacked up.
- Unwrap and serve. I unwrapped the ribs, and then it was time to eat! I know you’ll enjoy these ribs as much as I did.
These ribs were meaty and had the perfect balance of sweetness with a hint of spice. They were full of moisture and fell off the bone. Thanks to the wood and apple juice, every bite was infused with beautiful fruit notes. This is almost the exact flavor profile I ran at Memphis in May, and let me say it’s bound to win a few hearts.
Serving Suggestions for Competition Style Ribs
This recipe shines on its own, but sometimes you want to impress your friends with a spread. Here are some of my favorite side dishes.
Storing Competition Style Rubs
If you have leftovers, you can store them covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Equipment and Tools
Outlaw Smoker, Royal Oak Charcoal, paper towels, cutting board, spray bottle, heavy-duty aluminum foil, 1 or 2 half-size deep aluminum pans, Thermapen One, YETI Tundra 65 Hard Cooler, Insulated gloves, Thermoworks Silicone Tools
How to Cook Competition Style Ribs on the Outlaw Patio Smoker | Heath Riles BBQ
Get your grill up to temperature of approximately 275º.
Skin the membrane off of your baby back ribs and trim any excess fat.
Coat your ribs in mustard, or whichever binder your prefer, and coat both sides of your ribs in Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ and Hot BBQ Rubs. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Place the ribs on your grill unwrapped for 2 1/2 hours. Spritz your ribs once every hour. We used water to spritz, but you can use whatever you like. We also placed another block of wood on our charcoal every hour, as well.
Create your butter bath using Heath Riles BBQ Butter Bath and Wrap. It's 3/4 of a cup of Apple Juice and 1/4 of Butter Bath and Wrap per slab of ribs. We had two slabs, so we used 1 1/2 cups of apple juice and 1/2 cup of butter bath. Shake in your mixer bottle.
Take your ribs off of the grill. Place ribs in double wrapped aluminum foil meat side down, and pour 1/2 of your butter bath on each slab of rib. Place your ribs back on the grill for 1 hour, or until they reach an internal temperature of 204-208º.
Take your ribs off the grill and out of the foil. Glaze both sides of your ribs with Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce and lightly dust the meat side of your ribs in Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Rub. It's called "muddy style" - a Memphis BBQ staple. Place back on your grill for about 20 minutes to carmelize.