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Make the Best Ribs Ever by Turning Your Barbecue Into a Smoker

CAA August 30, 2021
Ribs on black slate with basting brush

Grilling is about cooking hot and fast. Smoking, however, requires time and patience: it’s done low (around 180 to 235°F), and slow. “The key is to contain the heat and smoke, and control the airflow and fire so you can maintain a low term temperature,” says Ted Reader, a Toronto-based chef and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Smoking Foods.

With 65 grills and smokers in his backyard, Reader knows what he’s talking about. He says you can make a smoker out of anything from a clay pot to a filing cabinet, but the easiest approach is to use your barbecue.

Here’s how you do it:

To turn your charcoal or gas grill into a smoker, keep the fire or flame small and off to one side, and put your meat on the other side. For the key ingredient – smoke! – place pre-soaked wood chunks or chips directly on the coals, or make an aluminum-foil packet and fill with wood chips, then poke holes in the foil to let the smoke escape and place the packet on your grill above the heat.

What type of wood chips should I use?

Reader recommends using hickory or oak for a more intense flavour, or maple or apple wood for a sweeter taste.

How long does it take to smoke food?

Smoking can take several hours, and you need to constantly check both the grill and internal meat temperatures. The BIOS wireless thermometer, which makes checking the temperature easy, is available at Stokes, where CAA Members save an extra 5% at Stokes online and in-store*.

Reader says the amount of time it takes to smoke food is worth the wait. “Grilled meats can be one-dimensional, whereas smoking adds complexity and flavour,” he explains.

It’s now time to make the best smoked ribs ever.

We promised you’d be making delicious smoked ribs after you read this blog, and you will, by following Reader’s recipe for Crazy Maple Glazed Pork Ribs. Reader uses hickory wood chunks (soaked for a minimum of an hour) for smoking and a flavour combination of barbecue sauce, whiskey, maple syrup and sriracha for the sauce.

For more recipe ideas:

Reader’s book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Smoking Foods has over one hundred recipes for smoking all types of food, as well as for making rubs and sauces. In his book, Reader also shares his tips for smoking success, including how to troubleshoot common smoking mistakes. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Smoking Foods, along with Reader’s other grilling books, Beerlicious: The Art of Grillin’ and Chillin’ and Gastro Grilling, are available at Indigo, where CAA Members earn up to 5% in CAA Dollars®*.

Invite guests to enjoy your smoked ribs.

For your outdoor barbecue party, make some of our easy “no measurements required” entertaining recipes, like a Peach Bellini mocktail. Make your event extra special and host an outdoor movie night.

Safety is the number priority before using a barbecue. Consult our barbecue safety guide before you fire up your grill.

For more ideas and savings for your summer adventures, check-out the CAA Rewards summer savings guide.