How Long to Smoke Ribs on Kamado Joe

You’ve got a Kamado Joe and some ribs, but you’re not sure how long to smoke them for? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, from setting the perfect temperature to monitoring your ribs while they smoke.

So, let’s get started and turn you into a rib-smoking pro on the Kamado Joe.

Understanding the Kamado Joe Grill

It’s essential to understand how the Kamado Joe grill works before you start smoking your ribs on it. This isn’t your average grill, you know. It’s a ceramic, egg-shaped beauty that uses charcoal for heat, and wood chunks or chips for that smoky flavor we all crave. You’re controlling the temperature by adjusting two vents, one at the bottom, called the draft door, and one at the top, known as the control tower top vent.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to maintain a steady low temperature for a long period. That’s how you’ll get your ribs tender and juicy. Start by filling the firebox with charcoal, then light it and let the grill heat up. Remember, we’re aiming for 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you’ve reached the desired temperature, toss in a few wood chunks for smoke, place your ribs on the grill, and close the lid.

But here’s the kicker, you’ve got to monitor that temperature like a hawk. Too high, and your ribs will dry out. Too low, and they won’t cook properly. But don’t fret, after a few sessions, you’ll master it.

Preparing Your Ribs for Smoking

You’re ready to take your rib smoking to the next level. That begins with understanding the importance of rib selection and the impact of your marinade and rub choices.

Picking the right ribs isn’t as straightforward as you might think. The marinade and rub you choose can dramatically influence the final flavor.

Rib Selection Tips

Choosing the right ribs can make a huge difference, so you’ll want to look for ones that have plenty of meat and minimal fat. It’s also important to go for ribs that have been freshly cut, as they’ll have a richer flavor. Avoid choosing ones with dried-out edges or discoloration, as these are signs of aging.

When selecting ribs, you should also focus on the thickness. Consistency in thickness ensures that your ribs cook evenly. A rack that’s thick on one end and thin on the other won’t cook uniformly.

Lastly, don’t shy away from ribs with bone showing. This is called ‘shiner’ and it’s not a bad thing. It means the butcher trimmed the ribs closely, which can lead to better smoking results. Remember, it’s all about the meat, not the bone.

Marinade and Rub Choices

After selecting your ribs, you’ll need to decide on the perfect marinade and rub to enhance the flavor. Consider a marinade with a balance of sweet and tangy components – brown sugar and apple cider vinegar, for example, work wonders. For the rub, you’ll want a blend of spices that complements the meat’s natural flavors.

Here are a few suggestions for both:

  • A honey-based marinade for a sweet touch.
  • A spicy rub with chili powder for a kick.
  • A marinade with a citrus base, like orange juice, to tenderize the meat.
  • A rub with a hint of smoky flavor, such as paprika.

Setting the Perfect Temperature on Kamado Joe

It’s crucial to set the perfect temperature on your Kamado Joe for the best-smoked ribs. You don’t want your meat to end up too dry or too tender. So, how can you achieve this balance?

It’s simple – just follow these steps.

Start by lighting up your grill and let it reach a temperature of about 250°F. This is the ideal temperature for smoking ribs on a Kamado Joe. Don’t rush this process, let the grill heat up slowly.

Once it’s at the right temperature, place your ribs on the grill. Remember, you’re not searing, you’re smoking. This requires time and patience. Keep a close eye on the temperature gauge. If it starts to creep up, adjust the vents to let less air in. If it drops down, open them up a bit more.

Time Required to Smoke Ribs on Kamado Joe

You’re probably wondering how much time you’ll need to set aside for this grilling endeavor. Smoking ribs on a Kamado Joe isn’t a quick process, but the tantalizing flavors and tender meat that result are well worth the wait.

Typically, smoking ribs on a Kamado Joe takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. However, this can vary depending on a few factors:

  • The type of ribs you’re smoking:

  • Baby Back Ribs: These usually take about 4-5 hours to smoke.

  • St. Louis Style Ribs: These thicker ribs require a bit more time, usually around 5-6 hours.

  • The temperature at which you’re smoking your ribs:

  • Low and Slow: If you’re smoking your ribs at a lower temperature, say 225°F, you’ll need to allow for a longer cook time.

  • Higher Heat: Smoking your ribs at a higher temperature, around 275°F, will reduce your cooking time.

  • The level of doneness you prefer: Some people like their ribs fall-off-the-bone tender, while others prefer a bit more chew. This will also affect your cooking time.

Remember: patience is key when smoking ribs. The end result will definitely be worth the wait.

Monitoring Your Ribs While They Smoke

Keeping an eye on your ribs as they cook is vital. You’ll want to avoid opening the grill too often as this can affect the temperature and cooking time. It’s a balance you’ll need to strike.

While you’re excited to see how your ribs are progressing, resist the urge to lift that lid. Each time you do, you’re losing heat and smoke, both essential for achieving that deep, smoky flavor and tender texture.

Instead, trust in the process. Your Kamado Joe is designed to maintain a consistent temperature, doing most of the work for you. If you’ve set it correctly, there’s no need for constant adjustments. You can check on your ribs about every hour, but no more than that. Use a meat thermometer to ensure they’re cooking at the right pace.

Also, keep in mind that a darker crust, or ‘bark’, on your ribs is a good sign. It’s a result of the rub caramelizing and the smoke penetrating the meat. As long as they’re not burning or drying out, you’re on the right track.

Tips for Achieving the Best Smoked Ribs

You’re on your way to mastering the art of smoking ribs.

First, we’ll dive into how to choose the best quality ribs.

Then, you’ll learn about marination techniques that will enhance the flavor of your ribs.

Selecting Quality Ribs"

It’s crucial to choose high-quality ribs for smoking on your Kamado Joe to ensure the best flavor and tenderness. You’re after ribs that have a good amount of meat on them and aren’t shrouded in fat. You want uniformity in thickness for even cooking, and a rich color that indicates freshness.

Here’s a handy table to guide your choice:

Characteristics Ideal Ribs
Meat Quantity Plenty, but not overly fatty
Uniformity Even thickness across the rack
Color Deep pink or red, not gray
Bone Condition No shattering or splintering
Marbling Moderate for flavor and tenderness

Marination Techniques"

After you’ve selected your quality ribs, let’s move on to discuss marination techniques that’ll enhance the flavor of your meat.

You don’t want to just throw them on the grill without a little prep work. First, you’ll want to make your marinade. Combine your favorite spices, a bit of sugar, and some vinegar in a bowl. You’re aiming for a balance of sweet, savory, and tangy.

Once that’s done, it’s time to slather that mix all over your ribs. Don’t be shy; make sure every inch is covered. Then, put your ribs in a sealable bag and let them soak in the fridge. The longer they marinate, the more intense the flavor. Aim for at least 12 hours, but 24 is even better.

That’s the secret to flavorful, juicy ribs.

Optimal Smoking Time

Now that we’ve covered marinating, let’s delve into how long you should keep those bad boys on the grill for optimal flavor.

Smoking ribs on a Kamado Joe isn’t just about heat—it’s an art that requires patience and precision. Ideally, you’re looking at about 5-6 hours of smoking time for that perfect fall-off-the-bone tenderness.

But remember:

  • The quality of your ribs is key. No amount of smoking can compensate for poor-quality meat.

  • Don’t rush the process. The slow cook is what imparts that deep, smoky flavor.

  • Keep an eye on your temperature. Consistency is crucial.

  • Lastly, enjoy the process. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of perfectly smoked ribs.

Troubleshooting Common Smoking Issues on Kamado Joe

If you’re experiencing issues with smoking your ribs on the Kamado Joe, don’t worry, we’re here to help you troubleshoot.

Let’s dig into some common problems you might be facing.

Firstly, are your ribs coming out too dry? That’s likely due to overcooking. Remember, you need to maintain a low and steady temperature. It’s not just about how long to smoke the ribs, but also at what temperature. If it’s too high, you’ll end up with dry, tough meat.

Secondly, are you struggling to maintain a consistent temperature? You might’ve overfilled the firebox, making it hard to control the heat. Aim for a medium-sized fire and adjust the vents to control the airflow.

Lastly, do your ribs lack that smoky flavor you crave? This could be because you’re not using enough wood chunks, or the ones you’re using aren’t soaked long enough. Adding more wood or soaking for at least an hour should do the trick.


In conclusion, smoking ribs on Kamado Joe isn’t as daunting as it seems. With the right preparations, temperature settings, and monitoring, you’ll have a delicious meal in about 5-6 hours.

Don’t forget to use these tips and troubleshoot any issues that pop up. So, go ahead, fire up your Kamado Joe, and smoke those ribs to perfection!