How To Keep Ribs Moist While Smoking? Easy Ways

Every product is independently reviewed and selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

Through my years of cooking, I’ve struggled with many things. In the beginning, one of the most annoying ones was keeping the ribs moist. 

I’ve tried everything everyone suggested. Not all of them work, but some of them are effective. So, I’m sharing what I found out with you today.

Most of the time, people use water to add moisture to the meat. But even after doing so, they notice their ribs get dry after they finish cooking. 

To stop your delicious ribs from drying out, go through a few tricks and see how to keep ribs moist while smoking. 

How To Keep Ribs Moist While Smoking – Fix Dry Ribs Now

Here I’ve shared a few exclusive tips, unfolded a few confusions and disclosed some myths of smoking ribs. 

I have discussed a few reasons for ribs becoming dry below. Keep reading, following and see the results. 

  • Prepare ribs for smoking with a brine recipe. You can marinate your ribs too. These methods help the ribs to retain moisture.
  • Inject the liquid in between the ribs before you start cooking. It is a great way to retain moisture till the end. 
  • Be careful not to over-flavor your ribs. Keep the salt to a level where the taste doesn’t get messed up. The amount will vary depending on the rib sizes. 
  • Use a water pan in your smoker to keep your ribs moist.
  • Make sure the water pan doesn’t dry. However, avoid opening the smoker very frequently as it will let the heat out. Don’t keep your smoker open for too long. 
  • Spray the ribs. Keep the spritzing 20 to 30 minutes apart. Frequently spritzing your ribs will help retain the moisture better.  
  • Let the marinade take care of the flavor while spritzing adds a topping. 
  • Use precise temperature to make sure your ribs stay moist because temperature plays an important role. 
  • The ideal temperature differs according to the rib size. Usually, the best temperature for smoking ribs is between 225 and 245 degrees F.  
  • Use less smoke, it will help keep the ribs moist. 
  • Smoking requires low and consistent heat so, use indirect heat. Indirect heat helps retain the moisture and prevent the ribs from drying out. 
  • Avoid placing the ribs directly over the charcoal. It can cause your ribs to get cooked too soon, resulting in dry ribs. 
  • Use aluminum foil to wrap the ribs to lock the moisture until the end. 
  • Make sure you don’t wrap the ribs too soon, or it won’t absorb the necessary flavors you are expecting it to absorb.
  • Wait for a couple of hours. Once the flavors are all absorbed in, tightly wrap the ribs avoiding any way to escape the moisture.
  • Rest the ribs in a cooler. Allow your ribs to sit for 3 to 5 minutes on your table at room temperature before you serve.  

Topcellent Tip: If you add spices to your water pan, the evaporated droplets that sit on your meat will be flavored. It secures the moisture inside the ribs and adds extra flavors. If you don’t want extra flavors, you can use something light like apple juice, grape juice, or apple cider vinegar.

Need more information? Okay Let’s see the further discussion that may make you pro at smoking ribs. 

If you wish to marinate the ribs, use a large bowl to add your favorite recipe and add the ribs. Make sure that they’re well-covered. Let them marinate for24 hours. The ribs will absorb flavors from the marinade.  

A mixture of salt and water is called a brine mixture. The ribs are usually soaked in brine for up to 12 hours. Even though some go for one of the processes, I suggest you do both. It’s a great method when you want your ribs to be moist. 

You will notice the water bowl getting empty as the water will evaporate due to the heat. The droplets of water then fall on your ribs, keeping it moist. 

Another benefit of using water inside the smoker is it keeps the temperature from getting too high. 

Mopping means applying basting sauce over the ribs using a mop instead of a brush. A brush will rub all the flavors off your meat. 

Perfect mopping requires creating a perfect basting sauce which will be different from the marinade sauce. Mopping is for locking the flavors inside and keeping the ribs moist rather than adding new flavors.  

Most electric smokers come with in-built thermometers for precise temperature maintenance. But if you are using a traditional smoker, try getting an external thermometer. 

For controlling the temperature, use the bottom vent of your smoker. If you want a higher temperature, increase airflow by opening the vent and vice versa.

How much time is enough to cook ribs perfectly? To avoid overcooking or undercooking your ribs, you should know exactly how many hours your dish needs. 

If you are following a certain recipe, it should include the required cooking time. If you are doing your recipe, remember that baby back ribs need around 4 to 6 hours to be perfectly cooked.  

Using too much smoke causes your ribs to get dry. Smoking is necessary to add flavor, but it should be within a limit. If you see a lot of smoke coming out of the chimney, control the temperature by turning the heat down.

However, too little smoke will also mess with the taste. If you feel like the chimney is releasing too little smoke, check if the wood needs changing.

If you want to know the reheating process you can follow this guide on how to reheat ribs and reheat baby back ribs.

Why Ribs Don’t Moist – The Reason Behind The Dry Ribs

Identifying why your ribs are becoming dry can help you solve the issues to keep the ribs moist. You may have been doing a few things wrong if it’s resulting in dry ribs. 

So, before you answer the question, how do you keep ribs from drying out when smoking, try looking for the source of your problem. 

  • Time

Proper time management significantly impacts whether the ribs will turn out moist or dry. Over smoke can result in dry ribs, whereas undercooking them will mess with the taste. 

You need to know when your ribs are done and when to add moisture through the cooking time.

  • Temperature

Temperature control is a crucial aspect no matter what you are cooking. If you don’t adjust your temperature from time to time, chances are, you will end up cooking dry ribs. 

For perfectly cooked and moist ribs, the temperature needs to be precise.

  • Spritzing

Spritzing is debatable. Some experts will suggest you avoid it, whereas some will tell you to go with it. 

Spritzing while smoking your meat requires you to open the smoker from time to time. Smoking needs consistent medium heat. When you open the smoker, your temperature fluctuates, messing with your food. 

But, if you do go with spritzing, make sure you’re doing it right. Keeping the smoker open for long can cause your ribs to dry. 

  • Wrong Wrapping

Wrapping your ribs with aluminum foil helps to keep the ribs moist. But, when you don’t wrap the meat tightly and properly, your meat will dry anyway. The wrong kind of wrapping used in the wrong way can not be good for your ribs.  

  • Water Pan

Sometimes people forget to use water pans when the smoker doesn’t come with one. Some smokers like the Masterbuilt Electric Smokers come with a water pan you can use. 

But if your smoker doesn’t have one, you must use another bowl as a water pan, or you will dry your meat. 

Keep in Mind These Important Things

Apart from the reasons and solutions, I’ve already mentioned, Check out a few other things to maximize the result. 

Apart from the basic smoking process, these essentials can get you perfectly smoked ribs exactly as you want. 

Choosing perfect ribs

The better you choose your ribs, the more perfect your outcome will be. Go for slabs that have good meat coverage, especially over the bones. 

Avoid ribs with large areas of surface fat. Don’t go for “shiners”—slabs where the meat is cut too close to the bone. These exposed bones can fall out while cooking. Avoid frozen ribs for the best results. 

Fuel you use

Smoking requires a perfect balance between fuels. When cooking with charcoal and wood chips, you need to keep the amount at a standard level. Charcoal controls the heat and temperature, whereas wood chips are for flavors. 

If you don’t use enough wood chips and too much charcoal, you will get high heat and fewer flavors. So, make sure you balance both to keep everything under control.  

Smoker you use

The type of smoker you are using is also crucial. Using an electric smoker like Masterbuilt Electric Smoker will make it easier for you to monitor and control the smoking process. 

Traditional charcoal smokers, on the other hand, will provide stronger flavors than electric ones.  


When using a charcoal smoker, it gets difficult to monitor and control the temperature. Mainly because there isn’t any in-built thermometer, but, you can get a charcoal thermometer to install it in your smoker. 

This way, you can keep track of your meat easily. Meater or Yummly is great when it comes to accuracy and durability. 


Don’t spritz water on your ribs. There’s water on the pan to take care of that. Instead, use something flavorful like grape juice, apple juice, or apple cider vinegar. For a richer flavor, use bourbon.

Follow The 2-2-1 Method For Smoking Ribs

Following the 2-2-1 method for smoking ribs can be very effective when you wish to retain the moisture. The 2-2-1 method is a calculation of time. 

The first 2 hours, you smoke the ribs unwrapped. They’ll be exposed to absorb the moisture and flavors. The next 2 hours are for cooking the ribs covered, preferably wrapped in aluminum foil. 

The foil helps to retain and lock the moisture inside the ribs. Finally, when the meat is fully moisturized, you cook it for another 1 hour uncovered. 

What Happens When You Cook Ribs Too Long

If you overcook your ribs when they’re wrapped, they’ll end up being mushy, which shouldn’t be your intention. It defeats the purpose of a perfectly cooked dish.

If you overcook them when they’re unwrapped, you’ll dry them out and that will eventually result in burning. So, when you ask, how do I stop my ribs from drying out, make sure you’re not overcooking them.  

How Long Should I Smoke Baby Back Ribs At 250

If you’re going for a 250-degree plan to smoke ribs, use the 2-2-1 method. Cook the ribs unwrapped for 2 hours, wrapped for 2 hours, then unwrapped again for 1 hour. If you’re using low temperatures, you’ll need longer to cook the ribs. 

Mistakes To Avoid When Smoking Ribs

As a BBQ lover, I’ve made tons of mistakes while learning what methods work the best. I’m telling you a few common mistakes that everyone should avoid if they want perfectly-cooked ribs.

  • Smoking the ribs at a high and inconsistent temperature
  • Not being able to control the heat
  • Using too much charcoal and too little wood chips
  • Not choosing the right kind of meat
  • Not seasoning the meat with proper flavors
  • Not using water pan while smoking
  • Undercooking or overcooking the ribs
  • Opening the lid too frequently 
  • Not spraying the meat from time to time
  • Using direct heat to smoke ribs
  • Not wrapping the ribs when necessary
  • Not letting the ribs sit before serving

At what temperature do ribs fall off the bone?

According to experts, ribs are finished when they gain 145 degrees F internal temperature. They can still be tough. 

The collagens and fats get melted when you take the temp up to 190 degrees to 203 degrees F. The ribs become juicy, tender, and ready. 

What can I use instead of apple juice for ribs?

Apple juice adds apple flavor to your ribs. It also helps the meat stay moist. If you want to change the flavor, you can use pineapple juice, grape juice, orange juice, or plain stock/broth. 

Can you overcook ribs in a smoker?

Yes. Overcooking ribs can lid to dry ribs and gradually results in burning. Overcooking wrapped ribs makes them mushy.  

At what temperature does meat stop absorbing smoke?

Meat usually stops absorbing smoke once it reaches an internal temperature of 135 to 140 degrees F. Remember that this is not concerned with time but with temperature. 

Do you add water when smoking ribs?

Yes. Adding water keeps your ribs moist while smoking. The water inside the smoker evaporates, and the droplets fall on the ribs to keep them moist.  

Should I wrap my ribs when smoking?

Yes. Wrapping the ribs while smoking can lock the moisture in. But don’t do it from the beginning. Instead, wrap the mean after two hours of smoking. 

Bottom Line

I hope I answered all your ‘how to keep ribs moist while smoking’ questions. Smoking ribs require patience and a precise method if one wishes to make it perfect. Even though there are many conflicts regarding the same topic, you will right away which ones are effective. Throw away your fear of making mistakes. How else are you going to learn? Every time we do something wrong, we learn something right. Don’t give up till you get those ribs perfectly cooked on your plate. 

Leave a Comment