Try our oak-smoked ribs recipe, then check out our BBQ peanut pork ribs recipe.

Oak gives a stronger flavour than most other woods but a rack of ribs can easily stand up to it, and the result is a big smoky hit. A meat thermometer will come in handy for checking that the ribs have cooked all the way through.


  • 2kg meaty pork rib racks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100ml pressed apple juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • a few large handfuls (see ‘Which wood?’ box, below) oak wood chips


  • 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • ground to make ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tbsp onion granules
  • a pinch cayenne pepper


  • 100g tomato ketchup
  • 50ml pressed apple juice
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • a good dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar


  • STEP 1

    Trim any excess fat and sinew from the ribs. Combine all the rub ingredients in a large bowl, lightly oil the ribs and use your hands to cover them in the rub until well coated. Marinate in the fridge, ideally overnight, or for at least 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the fridge an hour before you begin cooking to bring up to room temperature.

  • STEP 2

    Combine the apple juice and apple cider vinegar, and pour into a small spray bottle or keep to one side in a small container – this will be used to keep the ribs moist and help the surface to caramelise when cooking.

  • STEP 3

    To prepare the barbecue, follow the instructions in the box, above. Cook the ribs for 4 hours, turning and rotating every 30 minutes – give the ribs a good spray or drizzle of the apple juice at the same time. If the temperature drops too low, lift the lid and fan the coals to get the heat going again.

  • STEP 4

    In the final 30 minutes of cooking time, make the BBQ sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Keep stirring until the sauce reduces to a thick glaze, then remove from the heat. To ensure the ribs are cooked through, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 82C. For the final 5 minutes of cooking time, turn the ribs bone-side down and generously brush all over with the glaze. Once the glaze has darkened a little, remove the ribs and rest for 15 minutes. Slice the rack into individual ribs and serve alongside fries and coleslaw, if you like.

Which wood?

  • Different woods produce different flavour profiles and, as such, some woods are better suited to particular types of food than others. Some woods, including oak, hickory and mesquite, give off strong, pungent smokes; others, such as beech and alder, provide a much lighter, more delicate smoke; the likes of apple, cherry and maple would be considered medium smoking woods but each has a distinct flavour profile. It’s good to experiment with how different woods go with different foods, particularly meats, but classic combos include hickory with brisket, oak with salmon and apple with cheese. Our two beginner recipes over the page use cherry wood with chicken wings and oak with a rack of pork ribs, but the possible combinations are almost limitless – it’s all about experimenting with what works and discovering your personal favourites. There are plenty of specialist websites that deliver wood chips specifically for smoking, including, and

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