My New Char-Broil Smoker + My Killer Smoked Ribs Recipe

August 25, 2015

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Ok, so it’s no secret that I’m a Char-Broil guy. From their Tru-Infrared grills, to their new Kettleman grill, I feel like Char-Broil is the most innovative company in the domestic grilling market. I was using and loving Char-Broil stuff long before I started partnering with them because their products are second to none and the company is just filled with really great people. And the best part is all the cool stuff I get to try!

So here’s how it works: Char-Broil sends me stuff. I use it. If I like it, I write about it. If not, I give them feedback. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a pretty sweet gig and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Char-Broil, it’s that they’re always looking for new ways to make cooking easier and more enjoyable. Out of that desire came the Tru-Infrared technology I’m always talking about (hands down the best domestic gas grills available), and they’ve just released a new line of digital smokers that I was able to try out last night. Two words: game, changer.

Now, Char-Broil is not forcing me to say nice things about their smoker, and I think it’s important to make that clear. But I get asked all the time, “What’s an easy smoker I can buy that isn’t crazy expensive?” So I genuinely want to share this smoker with you real quick for those who are interested.

Char-Broil Digital Smoker

The first thing I love about this smoker is that it’s digital. That means you can turn it on, put the food and wood chips in it and not have to worry about babysitting it all night. For longer cook times (like with pulled pork) you may need to add more wood chips a couple times, but it has a larger chip box than many domestic smokers I’ve seen and will keep smoking for a good 3 hours.

Char-Broil Digital Smoker

From there, all you do is set the timer and put your prepped food inside. Then go do whatever it is you gotta do and don’t even sweat it. The smoker also has a digital thermometer hooked up to the readout that you can stick in the meat so you can see what temp its at. You can even choose the temperature at which you want the smoker to shut off. Is that sweet or what? This smoker is a total dream for someone looking to try their hand at smoking meats, or just looking for an easier way to manage it.

Now for the die-hard smoking snobs out there who are chuckling to themselves saying, “wood-fired or bust,” I’d just ask that you get over yourself and recognize that it’s 2015. Not everyone is looking to spend the night sleeping next to a giant cast-iron drum, shoveling wood chips into it every hour and constantly messing with flaps to keep the temperature steady. If that’s you’re thing, power to ya but that just isn’t realistic for the rest of us. We wanna make great food and we want it to be easy. And technology helps us do that, so I say bring it on.

RECIPE: Mayo-Rubbed, Cherry Wood Smoked BBQ Ribs
Don’t let the name turn you off. Jules hates mayo, so I just didn’t tell her I used it for these ribs and she devoured them, exclaiming they were the best she’s ever had. When I told her I used mayo for them, her eyes glazed over a bit and she thanked me for not telling her while she was eating, but stood by her declaration that the ribs were off the charts.

Also, I want to make it clear that I don’t make competition-style ribs. I’ve eaten competition-style ribs and, yeah they were really tasty. But they for sure weren’t the best ribs I’ve ever had. Too many BBQ competitions, much like the rest of the food world, are trying to put cooks in a box, telling them their food has to meet certain parameters in order to be worthy of our pallets. Good crap, can we all just lighten up and learn to enjoy food? How boring to just make the same thing over and over. Jules and I have been married for almost 7 years, and there are maybe 6 things I’ve ever made the same way more than once. Let’s mix it up and stop worrying about what might happen if we don’t follow a recipe.

All right, back to it. Here’s what you need:
• Smoker (check)
• Cherry wood chips
• 2 racks of pork ribs (whatever kind you like, spare, st. louis, or even an equal amount of country-style)
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 2 Tbsp kosher salt
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 Tbsp onion powder
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• 2 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp ground all spice
bbq sauce

A lot of rib purists don’t like using coatings on their ribs, except for the rub. But I do like using a little something to help the rub stick, and seeing what different coatings do to the flavor and texture of the ribs is kinda fun. I’ve used hot sauce, mustard, and even ketchup on my ribs, but mayo does it for me because it has a fair amount of oil, but is somewhat neutral in flavor. You honestly don’t taste any mayo in the finished product, but the ribs seem to come out more tender and have a richer color. Love it.

First, turn the smoker to 250, fill the chip box with cherry wood chips (or whatever kind you prefer), and get it preheating. While that’s going on, rinse and pat dry the ribs. Then cut them into pieces maybe 3-4 ribs each and rub them with mayo:

Mayo-Rubbed Smoked Ribs

Then mix all the spices together and coat the ribs evenly with the spice mix. Once the smoker is heated, add the ribs in one layer, without stacking, and set the timer for 3 hours. Also fill up the water bowl in the smoker to the max-fill line. I just use regular water, but you can also use apple juice or something.

Mayo-Rubbed Smoked Ribs

Once you hit the 2 1/2 hour mark, pop open the smoker and take a look to see if they’re done. When the meat is pulling away from the bones, that’s when you know you’re there. If they aren’t done, put them in for the remaining 30 minutes.

Mayo-Rubbed Smoked Ribs

At this point, you could just dive in and eat them, but I like to add a little sauce and hit them with some heat on the grill. Ain’t gonna lie, my sauce is the best I’ve had with ribs, but you can use whatever kind you want.

Mayo-Rubbed Smoked Ribs

A picture of me taking a picture of ribs. So artistic, isn’t it?

That’s it. No missing the party while you tend to your diva of a smoker.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting a smoker, I really encourage you to check this one out. Maybe these ribs can even be the first thing you make. Either way, remember you can always get 15% off anything on by using the code B15CLJ. Take care, friends, and I hope you enjoy!

Mayo-Rubbed Smoked Ribs


Also, if you like the tips and recipes I share, here’s a friendly reminder to check out my eBooks. I really think you’ll dig ’em. 

What do you think?

  1. Ted says:

    I am going to make this in our electric smoker this weekend. Can’t wait!

  2. Raymond says:

    Just tried the mayo and dry rub (lil change up since I lacked a couple ingredients). Oh My Gosh!! My wife and three daughters made themselves miserable on them. Just bought the smoker today and broke it in right. Same thing with my lovely bride about the mayo thing, except the reaction was hard to see with a rib bone in her mouth lol.
    Trying to figure out how to send a picture of the finished product.

    • Chris says:

      Love it Raymond! I always keep the mayo part to myself until after people have begun devouring them. Inevitably they ask, “What did you do to these?!?” That’s when I break the news and the reaction is usually a look of initial terror, then contemplation, then full-on acceptance as they dive back in. Even though I’m just getting to this comment and it’s been some time, if you do have a picture I’d love to see it. You can send it to

  3. My dad has a smoker and literally smokes almost everything – but I don’t think he’s ever used mayo on ribs before! I’m going to pass the recipe on – great idea :)

  4. Steph M. says:

    I don’t eat meat, but my husband does. I think this will make his heart sing as a Christmas present!! We’ve been looking for a smoker for him, but they were all way over budget. This one is perfect!

  5. Julianne says:

    Not smoker related, but a grill question. Any suggestions on the best grill for vegetarians? All reviews and descriptions are geared towards grilling meat, naturally, but we love the taste of grilled veggies just don’t know what’s best at grilling them. Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Julianne! Really great question and the answer is really the same as it is for meat. Char-coal gives better flavor, but is more work. Gas is easier, but the heat can be uneven and low-power. If you’re going gas, I definitely suggest the Char-Broil Tru Infrared grills – even temperatures, wide range of temperatures and uses less gas. So the decision is really between getting a small flavor advantage (charcoal) or a large convenience advantage (Char-Broil Tru Infrared gas).

      Another thing I would look into, especially for vegetables, is a grill basket – something like this:

      Makes life a whole lot easier, especially when grilling smaller pieces. :)

      I hope this helps!

  6. Kensley says:

    My husband is a ribs addict (naturally, yum!)! These look so so good! We bought a cheap used smoker for my husband to try out to see if it was his “thing” and it is! I’m going to make him try this recipe next time! Also, the food you post always looks SO GOOD!! You should go on Food Fighters… It’s always on in the back ground and we are wrangling kids on Thursday nights and whenever I stop to watch I think that Chris should do it!

    • Chris says:

      I gotta be honest, I don’t know what Food Fighters is, haha. We don’t have TV – I’m guessing it’s a show? Whatever it is, I’m intrigued now. :)

  7. Evelina says:

    Ok now I’m drooling. I love that it’s digital!

  8. Danielle M says:

    Christmas gift for husband- check! Thanks Chris! I’m so intimidated by smokers, but this seems almost easy! Especially if it can be outside in the winter. Here in snowy Pittsburgh that’s a must.

  9. Leslie B says:

    Yum. I don’t even eat pork or beef but those ribs look bomb. I have a char broil charcoal grill and I’ve been debating on getting the smoker attachment. This looks like a much easier smoker though!

    • Chris says:

      Very easy. The smoker box attachments are a great and affordable way to get started, especially if you already have the grill, but the digital box is just so easy. I love it.

  10. Victoria says:

    Oh my gaaaaaaash! I want some!

  11. Lisa says:

    They look super amazing yummy, I hope at some point we will be able to purchase the smoker here in the UK! Will give this recipe a go as I have never tried using Mayo before. I always use extra strong coffee to get the smoky flavour, which kinda works.

    Ditto… easy is it to clean?

    Lisa, London

  12. Lindsay says:

    That looks so yummy! Wondering….how is the cleanup? Dishwasher safe? Does the exterior get super hot (thinking of kids running around)? Could you use it in the rain? And where do you store it when you’re not using it (garage, shed in winter) so that bugs and varmints don’t get to it? Do you use it in the winter? Perhaps a post on these topics. I may consider buying one for my hubs. Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      Really great questions, Lindsay. As far as cleanup, all the parts that remove are dishwasher safe. So the grates, the chip box, and the drip and water trays. The inside of the box also gets some splatter and, especially when smoking a pork shoulder for 15 hours, can make quite the mess. I usually let the machine cool for about an hour with the door cracked open, then I wipe any loose fat out of it with paper towels, and spray a hose in to clean the rest. Some parts might require a little scrubbing, and every 3 or 4 times I use it I do a good, thorough scrub with hot, soapy water. But it’s really not too bad to clean – no worse than a braising dish after a 4 hour braise in the oven.

      The exterior of the box can get hot, but it’s not like touching the lid of a grill. A child would need to grab ahold of the box and hold it tightly for a good 10 seconds before it would leave any kind of burn, and even then it would be minor. Faye was running around outside while this smoker was going and she touched it with her finger (she’s at that age where she points at everything and grunts – so friggen cute) and just looked at her finger and said, “hah!” That’s how she says “hot.” But then she just went back to running around in the grass, laughing.

      Not sure about the rain, but my sprinklers did get this one pretty good. No negative impacts that I saw. For storing we have a little overhang on our back patio that keeps things up against the house pretty covered. I’ll just store it there for now and am hoping to build a small shed before the winter comes to store this and my mower and other things in (since we got rid of our giant one that was taking up our whole yard).

      Also, I do use the smoker in the winter, which is where a box like this shines. Because it’s so hands-off, I don’t have to spend so much time out in the cold taking care of it.

      I hope this answers your questions! Let me know if you think of anything else or if you’d like more details on anything. Happy to help. :)

  13. Cindy says:

    So fantastic, Chris. Thanks for the info! I have a question: would you feel comfortable walking away completely while the smoker does its work? Like, would you leave the house? Because wouldn’t that be great, to come home from running errands or something to ready-to-eat ribs?

    • Chris says:

      Hey Cindy! Great question and with this smoker, that’s exactly what I did. Of course, as with ANY cooking vessel, you’re dealing with heat. Leaving it unattended always has the potential of starting a fire, no matter what it is (oven, grill, even a ceramic cooktop). For me personally, I have a cement pad on the side of my house where I’m able to set the smoker and it’s about 15 feet away from our house and any trees or shrubs. I just turn it on and leave – for these ribs I started them during a late lunch break and when I came home they were ready to take out.

      Where you’re dealing with a digitally controlled heating element in this smoker, just like the ones used in an oven, the heat is more stable and as a result the equipment itself is as well. When you have a wood-fired smoker, a bit more care needs to be taken to ensure you don’t have runaway ashes or flames.

      In short, I can’t legally tell you to leave your smoker unattended, because there’s always that outside chance of something happening. All I can say is that I leave mine unattended all the time – only returning to add more wood chips – and I’m not worried about it at all. How diplomatic was that response? haha

      • Cindy says:

        So thankful for such a full and honest answer. This might be a Christmas present for my husband! I’ll make sure to use discount code. Thanks for another great cooking post. I really, really (really) appreciate your hope to make cooking more approachable and less complicated. Keep them coming!!

  14. Shell says:

    My hubby just got a smoker last week. Wow, the ribs are delicious cooked in a smoker!! Looking forward to trying your recipe next time. Thanks for sharing : )

    • Chris says:

      Awesome! Let me know how you like the mayo. It’s not the first thing that people think of, but it’s gaining steam and I can definitely see why.

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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