How to Grill the Johnny Trigg Ribs | Barbecued Pork Ribs Recipe

September 22, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

You can’t be a pitmaster without knowing the Johnny Trigg method of making ribs or having heard of this BBQ Pitmaster. For those who don’t know, the Johnny Trigg recipe is a cooking method “invented” by Texas-born American celebrity chef and culinary competitor Johnny Trigg. 

I’ve been a fan of Johnny Trigg for quite a long time. I watched him cook in the 2000s at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational with his “Smoking Triggers” team. His BBQ Pitmasters is a TV show I don’t like to miss. Over the years, I’ve liked replicating his cooking methods.

Today, I’ll be showing you how I make barbecued pork ribs the Johnny Trigg way. Keep reading to learn how to make that smoky, spicy, delicious fall-off-the-ribs recipe. 

Johnny trigg ribs

Johnny Trigg Barbecued Pork Ribs Recipe 

Items You Need

The ribs 

  • 1 rack of St. Louis spare ribs or baby back ribs (about 2.5 to 3 pounds)

The rub and sauce 

  • Dry rub
  • Dijon mustard 
  • Garlic powder 
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Apple juice
  • Parkay Squeeze Margarine
  • Brown Sugar 
  • Tiger sauce 
  • Clover Honey
  • Molasses 
  • Corn Syrup

Equipment and tools needed

  • A charcoal grill 
  • An oven 
  • 40 to 60 charcoal briquettes 
  • Mesquite wood for flavor (or pecan and cherry hardwood) 
  • Fork 
  • Knife 
  • Tablespoon 
  • Paper towel
  • Grill gloves 
Barbecued Pork Ribs


Step 1: Prepare your grill 

After getting all your equipment and ingredients ready, the first thing you need to do is to get the grill started. For this recipe, I like to use the Weber charcoal grill. 

So get a chimney’s worth of coal in the grill. 40 to 60 charcoal briquettes are enough for this recipe as we’ll be doing the 3-2 stages of the 3-2-1 cooking method on the grill. After filling the grill with charcoal briquettes, you only need to light it and wait for it to warm up. 

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Step 2: Cut the membranes off and trim the fats  

While the grill is warming up, prepare your rib rack. St. Louis style pork spare ribs or baby back ribs are required for making Johnny Trigg ribs. 

After getting the pork ribs out, the first thing you need to do is remove the white membrane, also called silver skin, from the back of the ribs. This is a tricky task for most inexperienced cooks. 

You should be able to do this with a paper towel and sharp knife. Insert the knife under the white membrane at one end along the rib’s breadth to lift it. Then, gently rip up the membrane with the other hand with the paper towel, of course. 

After peeling the silver skin off, get rid of them. You don’t need them as far as this recipe is concerned. 

The next step is to trim off a bit of the excess fat on the meat side of the pork ribs. St. Louis pork spare ribs are known to be nice, well-marbled ribs. But you don’t have to trim them all. 

Step 3: Cover the ribs with mustard and dry rub 

Next, I usually start by taking some Dijon mustard and covering the rib rack. This is to prep up the ribs for the BBQ dry rub you will use. 

For this recipe, I used the Kosmos Q Killer Bee BBQ Rub to adhere to the Dijon mustard. Cover both sides of the ribs with the dry rub generously. Some people also coat the ribs with 8 tablespoons of garlic powder. 

Step 4: Get the grill to the right temp

Wait for the grill to be ready. You need about 250 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit to cook the pork ribs. That’s critical for making sure that they are done perfectly. 

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Step 5: Add some wood chips for flavors 

Take the lid off and add a little wood for a nice smokey flavor. I like to smoke ribs with mesquite. However, Johnny Trigg likes to smoke ribs with one pecan hardwood and one cherry fruitwood.

Step 6: Cook the ribs on the grill for 3 hours

Place the ribs meat on the grill and let them cook for three hours. I have seen Trigg spritz the meat with apple juice hourly. You may want to consider doing this too. 

Pork Ribs On The Grill

Step 7: Prepare some BBQ rub

Leave the ribs on the grill and prepare some rub. Take an aluminum foil. Lay it on the flat top of your grill. 

Measure three tablespoons of brown sugar and spread it out on the foil. 

Squeeze some Parkay margarine squeeze butter on top. 

Put some Tiger sauce (about two tablespoons) on the mixture you’re making on the foil. 

Next, add some syrup (about two tablespoons of clover honey). 

Again, add about a tablespoon of the Kosmos BBQ dry rub. Mix all these rubs with your hand. You may also leave them as they are. 

Step 8: Place the ribs on the rub and wrap

After that is done, rescue the ribs from the grill. Take the ribs and place them meat side down on the rub mixture on your aluminum foil. 

Wrap the rest of the foil tightly around the rack of ribs. 

Step 9: Cook on the grill for two hours 

Then, get the foiled ribs back on the grill again at 250 degrees for two hours. 

When that’s done, wear some grill gloves, so you don’t burn your hands. 

Open the grill lid, bring out your ribs from the grill and place them on the flat top of your grill. 

Step 10: Unwrap the foiled ribs 

Unwrap the ribs, and you will see that the meat has cooked deliciously while soaking up its juice and the rub. 

The final cooking can be done for an hour on the grill at the same temperature. However, I like to do this in the oven broiler at a higher temperature and for just 10 to 15 minutes. 

If you don’t have an oven around, you may finish it on the grill. 

Step 11: Rub with BBQ sauce 

Next, take your ribs inside. Before continuing, you need some commercial BBQ sauce. 

I like to use the Corn Syrup BBQ sauce from Weber for this recipe. If you can’t find that, use the Stubbs Original BBQ Sauce or your favorite sauce.

Slather about half a cup all over the ribs. Then take the back of a tablespoon and spread all the BBQ sauce over the meat. 

Take a bit more of the rub and give the ribs with the BBQ sauce on top a little dusting.

Step 12: Place in the oven for the final cooking 

Place the rack of ribs in the oven and let them broil for 10 to 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Bend the ribs slightly to see if it tears. If it does, it is done. To be on the safe side, you may use a thermometer to test if it goes to around 145 degrees internal temperature. 

Step 13: Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes 

After this time is up, pull the rack of ribs out of the oven. At this point, some people like to dust a little more of the rub on the meat to add some flavor and let that settle. Then wait 10 minutes for the ribs to rest and let the fat and flavor return to the right places.

Grilled Pork Ribs


1. How do you make ribs like Johnny Trigg?

The Johnny Trigg method involves the so-called 3-2-1 method. That is, you cook the ribs naked on the smoker for 3 hours, then with the foil tightly wrapped for two hours, and finally unwrapped for the last hour. 

2. What is the 2 2 1 method for ribs?

The 2-2-1 method is a cooking method used for cooking ribs. It involves cooking ribs unwrapped in direct heat on the grill for two hours. Then it’s wrapped up in foil and cooked on the grill for another two hours. Finally, the ribs are unwrapped for the last hour of cooking time. 

3. What temperature does Myron Mixon cook ribs?

Myron Mixon, another ribs specialist, cooks his ribs at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours. Then he sets them down on a pan, rubs the ribs with apple juice as sauce, and wraps them in foil for another hour of cooking. 

4. Does Johnny Trigg use tiger sauce?

Yes, as I’ve shown you, Johnny Trigg makes use of Tiger sauce in his recipes. He places the meat side of the ribs on the sauce mixture. You may repeat this process with the other ribs side. Rub the ribs with apple juice (about one quarter cup). 


So that’s how you make a fantastic Johnny Trigg ribs recipe. Some like to prepare it for three hours which is modified from the original five-hour recipe. However, with 5 hours of cooking, you can’t miss it! The important thing is to get the timing and the temperatures right. 

Just a reminder, you have to first cook the ribs on the grill at 250 degrees for three hours. Then you need to foil it, add rub and cook it for two additional hours. Next, you have to broil it for 15 minutes. To check the ribs for doneness, bend the ribs slightly and see if they tear. Make sure that you let the ribs sit for 10 minutes before you slice them. 

Bon appetit!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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