Pork back ribs are one of my favorite meals. However, depending on which butcher I go to I get different sized ribs.

My method is a simple one for when I'm making a quick at-home meal. I rub the ribs overnight, remove from the fridge for an hour, then wrap tightly in foil with a little liquid.

I'll then put them on the grill under indirect heat at 250˚F for 3 hours for smaller ribs or 4 hours for larger ones.

I then follow up with 15 minutes on medium direct heat while saucing to caramelize and build up a little bark, but I'm always guessing at the right time to cook them due to variable sizing.

What is the best method to determine the doneness of ribs while using the Texas Crutch method?

  • I've never crutched ribs before, but wouldn't the bend test work on ribs even if they are crutched?
    – Batman
    May 21, 2016 at 14:42
  • 1
    It's hard to do the bend test when the ribs are wrapped in foil. I'm wondering if there is a way to test doneness while they are still wrapped. May 21, 2016 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


While I do not believe it is necessary to "crutch" ribs, it can be done, and the most popular method is called the "3-2-1 Method." (see the writeup on Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible site here: http://barbecuebible.com/2015/01/20/3-2-1-method-ribs/ )

The prescribed method is to cook unwrapped for three hours, two hours in foil, and one additional hour unwrapped. The method and times are merely a guideline, and are based on cooking St. Louis ribs at 225F. If you cook at a higher temperature, then adjust the times at each stage downward. If you are cooking baby back ribs, then adjust those times significantly downward. Use indirect heat the entire time, and apply sauce in the last 15 minutes of the cooking process.

Again, please be aware that these are merely guidelines. The ribs are done when they pass the tests for doneness, not at prescribed times.

  • 1
    Meathead says not to use 3-2-1 -- it seems like way too much time ("I'd like to kill the man who came up with the 3-2-1 concept." - Sterling Ball).
    – Batman
    Jun 24, 2016 at 1:47
  • I'm not a big fan of 3-2-1 myself. I prefer to cook the ribs uncovered, and at a higher temperature (250-275* F usually). Even then it doesn't take 6 hours.
    – Sean Hart
    Jun 24, 2016 at 15:39

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