Is this the BEST way to smoke ribs?

  • Recipe Type


  • Skill Level


  • Grill Time

    3-4 hours

  • Method


  • Servings

    Serves 4-6

What is a Cotton Gin Smoker aka Barrel Smoker?

A Cotton Gin Smoker is a unique and innovative barbecue smoker design that draws inspiration from the historic cotton gin machines used in the American South. This smoker typically features a cylindrical or barrel-shaped chamber with racks or hooks for hanging meats, such as ribs, briskets, or poultry. What sets it apart is its ability to infuse a distinct smoky flavor into the meat by utilizing the airflow principles of the cotton gin. As the smoker heats up, the Bourbon Barrel wood chunks produce smoke, which circulates around the hanging ribs, resulting in a flavorful and evenly cooked barbecue. The Cotton Gin Smoker not only adds a touch of nostalgia to the barbecue experience but also delivers outstanding results that BBQ enthusiasts often seek. 

St. Louis, Baby Back or Spare Ribs?

When it comes to pork ribs, we are grateful to the swine for offering us a few ways to enjoy this food with a built-in stick.  We all know that food on a stick is more flavorful but when it comes with it’s own “stick”, it is even better.  Let me be clear, the pigs only have 2 sets of ribs.  The difference in the cuts is the butchering process.  Allow me to break down the difference for you.

What are baby back ribs?

Baby back ribs are generally shorter than the other cuts.  They usually run from about 6” long down to about 4” and maybe even a little bit less.  BB ribs come from the area under the loin muscle and can have up to about ½” of meat from the loin on top.   Many people prefer baby backs because they say that they are the most tender.  What do you think?

Spare Ribs

Of all of the different cuts, Spare ribs tend to weigh the most and have the most meat on them.  They also tend to have the most fat and bones than the others.  The meat on Spares is mostly located in between the bones, as opposed to baby backs, where the bulk of the meat is on top of the bone.  They are located almost the entire area of the ribs, running from the spine, all the way down to the belly.  Spares must have a minimum of 11 rib bones to qualify as spare ribs.  Hmmm, I wonder if that’s why they’re called spare ribs.  Because there are so many spare bones!  Things that make you go Hmmmmm.  Because of the larger amount of fat on these, I feel that they have more flavor than baby backs.  Remember, fat equals flavor!

St. Louis Ribs

If you take a rack of spare ribs, remove any excess cartilage, extra fat and the remnants of the breastbone, you have beautiful St. Louis Ribs.  They are normally rectangular in shape and a touch shorter than spare ribs.  Because of the trimming, they tend to cook quicker than spare ribs and their flat appearance will actually help with more even cooking in addition to their uniform thickness.  St. Louis ribs are my favorite.  They seem to take the best qualities of both of the others and put them all into one rack. 

Should I use Lump Charcoal or Briquets for ribs?

One of the great parts about the barrel type smokers is that you can really burn either type of charcoal in them.  Normally, it is recommended to burn lump charcoal, but due to the design and ingredients that make up our new briquets, they worked fantastically in the CGS.  They burned evenly and at the same temperatures that the lump normally burns at. (275-300°)  The other great part of this experiment was how little ash that our briquets created after cooking. 

If you are not already familiar, please allow me to tell you some interesting facts about the FOGO briquets.  First, they are made from nothing but coconut husks, with vegetable oil and starch as a binder.  They emit a rather sweet smell and very mild, wood-like flavor on the food.  Remember, just as I always preach, treat smoke as an ingredient.  Too much or too little will negatively impact your final product.  Nobody wants to spend 4 hours smoking ribs just to feel like you are biting into an old stale ash tray.   That is all for now.  Remember to get out and grill and remember to join us again the next time on The FOGO Life!


  1. Prepare your ribs by removing any extra fat, loose fat and any other trimming that may be needed. This includes cutting the first 2-3 ribs off of the skinny end of the rack.
  2. On the underside of the ribs, score the membrane in a diamond pattern.  Coat the top and bottom of each rack with BBQ rub with a generous coating.   Press the rub into the ribs, do not actually “rub” the seasoning, as it will rub it off.   Let the ribs sit out, seasoned, while you prepare the smoker.
  3. Place 2 FOGO fire starers in a Blazaball, light them with your torch and once they are burning well, fill the charcoal basket with FOGO All Natural Briquets. Pierce each rack with the hanging hooks below the 2nd  Just before putting the ribs in the smoker, add 2-4 Smoke Your Bourbon Wood Chunks. 
  4. Hang the ribs in the barrel, making sure that they are on the outside of the fire basket. If you put them directly over the fire, you run the risk of burning the bottom ribs on the rack.  Close the lid and let them smoke for 30 minutes.
  5. Open the lid and lift the rack that the ribs are hanging on and turn it 45°. Do this every 30 minutes until the ribs are done cooking.
  6. You can tell when the ribs are done when they bend almost 90° when placing a pair of tongs halfway under them, lift and when bending, the skin will begin to crack.
  7. Remove the ribs and allow them to sit and rest for 15 minutes before slicing and devouring the entire rack by yourself. Maybe you could share them with your friends and family, if you are feeling really generous that is……


Print this Page

Free Shipping

Receive Free Shipping on all orders over $40

Satisfaction Guarantee

100% Full Satisfaction policy. No questions asked.


Grill Now, Pay Later!


Orders ship within 24 hours! Any questions?