What Temperature Do You Wrap Ribs?

Cooking ribs is an art form, especially when it comes to mastering the perfect tenderness and flavor. A crucial step in this process is knowing when to wrap the ribs. This guide will focus on understanding the right temperature to wrap ribs, ensuring they turn out juicy and delicious every time.

Why Wrap Ribs?

Wrapping ribs, often known as the ‘Texas Crutch,’ is a technique used to speed up the cooking process while keeping the ribs moist and tender. The wrap creates a steamy environment that helps break down tough fibers in the meat without drying it out.

The Ideal Temperature for Wrapping

The perfect temperature to wrap ribs is generally when they reach an internal temperature of about 150°F to 170°F (65°C to 77°C). This is the point at which the meat starts to tenderize and can benefit from the moist environment that wrapping provides.

How to Measure the Temperature

Using a reliable meat thermometer is the best way to accurately measure the temperature of your ribs. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding the bone, as bones conduct heat differently and can give a false reading.

Types of Wraps to Use

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is the most common material used for wrapping smoked ribs. It’s easily available and does a great job of trapping heat and moisture.

Butcher Paper

Butcher paper is another option. It’s breathable, allowing some of the moisture to escape, which can result in a slightly firmer bark (the crust that forms on the outside of the ribs) compared to foil.

Wrapping Techniques

1. Prepare the Wrap

Lay out a large piece of foil or butcher paper on a flat surface. If you’re using foil, you might want to double-layer it to prevent tearing.

2. Add Liquids (Optional)

Before placing the ribs on the wrap, you can add a small amount of liquid like apple juice, beer, or even water. This helps create steam during the cooking process.

3. Place the Ribs

Put the ribs meat-side down on the wrap. This position allows the bone side to get more heat, which helps with tenderizing the meat.

4. Seal the Wrap

Wrap the ribs tightly to ensure no steam escapes. If you’re using foil, crimp the edges together. With butcher paper, you’ll need to fold it over several times.

Cooking After Wrapping

Once wrapped, return the ribs to the smoker. The temperature for cooking at this stage is typically around 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C). This low and slow method will cook the ribs to perfection.

How Long to Cook Wrapped Ribs

The ribs should cook for about another 1.5 to 2 hours after wrapping. However, the best indicator is the tenderness of the meat rather than the clock. The ribs are done when the meat between the bones is tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about half an inch.

Unwrapping and Finishing

After the ribs are tender, carefully unwrap them. Be cautious of the hot steam. At this point, you can add more sauce if desired and finish them on the grill for a few minutes to get a nice glaze.


Wrapping ribs is a technique that can significantly enhance the tenderness and flavor of your ribs. The key is to wrap them at the right temperature, between 150°F to 170°F. Whether you use aluminum foil or butcher paper, the goal is to create a steamy environment that tenderizes the meat.