How To Smoke Pork Ribs from Frozen 

If you forgot to take the pork ribs out of the freezer, have no fear! We're going straight from the freezer to the smoker and still get moist, tender meat, a nice bark and a sticky glaze.
smoked frozen pork ribs

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I smoked frozen pork ribs for the first time, and I couldn’t believe the results. Of course, I was skeptical, but after the first bite, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and tenderness. 

This easy method of smoking ribs will now be a go-to when I’m in a rush and don’t have time to thaw out my frozen ribs.

How to Smoke Frozen Pork Ribs

a cut rib being held

Ingredients you’ll need

Equipment you’ll need

Thaw or straight from the freezer? 

This method is all about saving time, so there is no need to thaw. We are going to go straight from the freezer to the smoker.

As the ribs smoke, they will thaw out pretty quickly and because we are cooking at a low temperature, the ribs will be cooked evenly.

Is there a difference in taste or tenderness? 

As far as taste and tenderness between frozen and thawed ribs, I couldn’t really tell the difference. Smoking ribs from frozen still resulted in juicy and tender ribs.

pork rib sliced on a wooden chopping board

The main difference is they took a little longer to smoke than a thawed rib, as expected. The bark also took longer to set and was uneven. 

With all of that said, the ease of frozen ribs straight to the smoker is just really convenient without sacrificing taste.

The texture and overall appearance may not be award-winning, but they still deliver on deliciousness.  

Removing membrane and trimming? 

Since we are smoking the ribs frozen there is no way the membrane can be removed. To me, it’s not a big deal anyway, and the end result will be the same in taste, just slightly different in texture.

Some people will remove the membrane after the ribs are thawed, but save yourself the extra hassle and don’t worry about it. Chances are you won’t be able to tell the difference anyway. 

How to season frozen ribs

Usually, I don’t use a binder for ribs as they have enough moisture. However, with frozen ribs, the seasoning won’t stick without it.

I highly recommend using a binder like yellow mustard to season the frozen ribs. The mustard will allow the seasoning to stick to the ribs, and as the ribs thaw out, it will adhere to the pork.

Cook time

One thing I was concerned about was the difference in time smoking frozen ribs might take versus thawed. Surprisingly, the ribs thawed out pretty quickly and evenly while on the smoker, and the overall difference was only about 30 minutes. Not too bad considering the convenience. 

How to Make Smoked Pork Ribs from Frozen

1. Fire up the smoker

Preheat your smoker to 225°F.

2. Prep

Take your ribs out of the freezer and remove the packaging.

frozen rack of pork ribs on a wooden board
frozen pork rib with mustard binder on a wooden board

Cover them with a mustard binder, then season them on both sides and the edges. I used Smoke Kitchen’s Pitmaster’s Pick, our all-purpose BBQ rub, or you could try our Ultimate Dry Rub for Ribs

raw sesoned pork rib on a wooden board

3. Smoke

Place the ribs in the smoker and leave for two hours before opening the lid. This will allow the ribs to thaw while smoking and allow that smoke to start working on the meat. 

raw frozen seasoned pork rib in smoker

As the ribs thaw, the seasoning will adhere to the meat. The thawing of the ribs will also keep the ribs moist. So, there is no need to spritz for the first couple of hours. 

frozen pork rib half way through the cook

Once the ribs have reached an internal temperature of 165°F or more and the bark has set, meaning it won’t rub off when you touch it, it’s time to wrap. 

pork rib at at 165°F in the smoker

4. Wrap

Now, if you like the bark on your ribs a little firmer, it’s ok to take them up to 180°F to allow more time to get the way you like them. 

I like to use heavy-duty aluminum foil and place a few pats of butter down, along with some brown sugar, honey, and another sprinkling of BBQ rub. Then I place the ribs meat side down and wrap them tightly. 

foil with butter, honey and brown sugar

Place the ribs back into the smoker, meat side down, to finish cooking. You want to reach an internal temp of 195°F. This should take another hour or so, depending on what temperature you wrapped them at. 

foil wrapped pork rib in the smoker

Once the ribs have reached 195°F, unwrap, and place them meat side up on the grill.

5. Glaze

I like to use our Smoke Kitchen Sweet BBQ Sauce and brush on a nice layer all over the top of the ribs. Then, I allow the ribs to smoke for another 30 minutes with the temperature bumped up to 250°F.  

glazed pork rib in the smoker
Increasing the temperature to 250°F at the end gives the sauce a chance to tack up and set. 

6. Rest

Once you remove the ribs from the smoker, allow them to rest for 10-15 minutes on your cutting board before slicing and serving. 

If you did remember to take the ribs out:

smoked frozen pork ribs

How to Smoke Pork Ribs from Frozen

From the freezer to the smoker, seasoned and glazed pork ribs.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 741kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the smoker to 225°F.
  • Remove the frozen rack of ribs from the packaging and slather yellow mustard over it.
  • Season ribs with an all-purpose bbq rub covering all sides.
  • Place ribs on the smoker and smoke them for 2 hours before opening the lid.
  • When the bark has set and the internal temperature of the ribs reaches 165°F or more, it's time to wrap.
  • Lay down a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the ribs in. Dot over some pats of butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and a drizzle of honey. Place the ribs meat side down on the foil and wrap tightly.
  • Place ribs back into the smoker and continue smoking until they reach 195°F internally. Then unwrap the ribs and place them meat side up in the smoker.
  • Glaze the ribs with BBQ sauce and increase the temperature of the smoker to 250°F for the last 30 minutes.
  • Allow the ribs to rest on the cutting board for 15 minutes before slicing between each bone to serve.

Notes

Spritzing – The thawing of the ribs will keep the ribs moist. So no need to spritz for the first couple of hours. 

Nutrition

Calories: 741kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 190mg | Sodium: 454mg | Potassium: 661mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 327IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 5mg
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