July 14, 2024

Barbecue Hunt – Complete guide and tips about Barbecue grills, Accessories and Recipes

Barbecue Hunt – Complete guide and tips about Barbecue grills, Accessories and Recipes

A Guide to Grilling Ribs: Rubs, Sauces, and Cooking Times

4 min read
Grilling ribs is a barbecue season highlight. This guide covers everything from selecting the right meat to perfect cooking times, rubs, and sauces for mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone ribs.
How to grill ribs - rubs, sauces, and more!

Grilling ribs is one of the highlights of the barbecue season. Achieving tender, flavorful ribs that fall off the bone is a combination of art and science. This guide will walk you through the entire process, from choosing the right meat to the perfect cooking times, and the best rubs and sauces to give your ribs that irresistible flavor.

Choosing the Right Ribs

For a truly mouth-watering experience, you need to start with the right type of ribs. There are primarily two types of ribs popular for grilling: baby back ribs and spare ribs.

  • Baby Back Ribs: These are smaller, more tender, and leaner. They cook faster and are ideal for quick grilling sessions.
  • Spare Ribs: Larger and meatier than baby back ribs, spare ribs come from the belly side of the pig and have more fat, which means more flavor. They take longer to cook but are worth the wait.

Prepping Your Ribs

Removing the Membrane

Before you do anything, it's crucial to remove the membrane (also known as the silver skin) from the back of the ribs. This ensures the rub and smoke penetrate the meat better and results in more tender ribs.

Simply slide a knife under the membrane at one end, grab it with a paper towel, and pull it off in one piece.

Applying the Rub

The foundation of a great rib lies in the rub. A rub is a blend of spices and seasonings that enhances the natural flavor of the meat. Here's a basic dry rub recipe:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix these ingredients thoroughly and apply them generously to both sides of the ribs, rubbing the mixture into the meat.

For more information on barbecue rubs, you can refer to our detailed article on choosing and making the perfect rubs for your meats.

Cooking Times and Methods

Low and Slow Method

The "low and slow" method is the most popular way to grill ribs to perfection. It involves cooking the ribs at a low temperature for an extended period, which ensures they are tender and juicy. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Preheat your grill to 225°F (107°C).
  2. Use indirect heat: If you're using a gas grill, turn on only one side and place the ribs on the opposite side. For a charcoal grill, push the coals to one side and place the ribs on the other.
  3. Cook the ribs for 3 hours: Place the ribs bone-side down on the grill and close the lid. Check occasionally to ensure the temperature remains steady.
  4. Wrap the ribs: After 3 hours, remove the ribs and wrap them in aluminum foil, adding a bit of apple juice or beer for moisture. Return them to the grill for another 2 hours.
  5. Unwrap and sauce: After 2 hours, unwrap the ribs and brush them with your favorite barbecue sauce. Place them back on the grill for another hour, unwrapped, to let the sauce set and the ribs get a nice caramelized exterior.

For a deep dive into the specific cooking times and temperatures for ribs, check out our detailed guide on ribs cooking times.

Hot and Fast Method

If you're short on time, the hot and fast method is a quicker way to grill ribs. Here's how to do it:

  1. Preheat your grill to 300°F (149°C).
  2. Use indirect heat and place the ribs on the grill.
  3. Cook for 1.5 hours, flipping halfway through.
  4. Wrap in foil with a liquid (apple juice or beer) and cook for another 30 minutes.
  5. Unwrap, sauce, and grill for an additional 15 minutes.

Saucing Your Ribs

The barbecue sauce is the finishing touch that can make or break your ribs. While there are many commercial sauces available, making your own can give you a unique flavor profile. Here’s a simple and delicious barbecue sauce recipe:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Brush this sauce onto your ribs during the last 30-45 minutes of cooking to allow it to caramelize.

For an in-depth look at different types of barbecue sauces and how to make them, refer to our guide on selecting and creating the best sauces for your barbecue.

Serving Your Ribs

Once your ribs are done, let them rest for a few minutes before cutting. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. Use a sharp knife to cut between the bones and serve with extra sauce on the side.

Pair your ribs with classic barbecue sides like coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread for a complete meal.

Grilling Other Proteins

Grilling ribs is just the beginning. If you're interested in learning how to grill other popular proteins like chicken thighs, you can check out our article on grilling BBQ chicken thighs. For vegetarians or those looking for variety, our guide on grill baskets provides insights into grilling vegetables and other smaller items.


Grilling ribs to perfection requires patience, the right techniques, and a bit of love. By following this guide, you can create ribs that are tender, flavorful, and sure to impress your family and friends. Happy grilling!

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