Much like grilling steaks, knowing how to grill ribs is an art form and will take some time to perfect. Its worth it though! I personally like ribs more than steaks, I find it tastier and richer in flavor. There are many different recipes and different ways to grill your ribs.
I have compiled a short step-by-step instruction on the most basic way to grill your ribs. Use this as a guide and then branch out with different seasonings and sauces to up your rib game
7 Easy Steps on How to Grill Ribs
Step 1 – Choosing the Right Kind of Ribs.
There are 2 famous kinds of pork ribs – baby back ribs and spareribs. Baby back ribs are taken from the top of the rib cage and are shorter and meatier than spareribs. The baby back take less time to cook. The spareribs on the other hand, are taken from the belly side of the rib cage. Spareribs contain more fat than baby back ribs and are more tender.
Step 2 – Prep your Ribs for Grilling.
In order to learn how to grill ribs, this is a very important step. You need to rinse the ribs under running cold water to ensure removal of loose meat, fat or bone particles. Make sure to cut off any dangling pieces of meat or fat, otherwise they may leave burn marks on the ribs when you start grilling. Remember to check on the bone side of the slab, there will be a tough membrane covering the bones. Remove this by going between the membrane and the meat at the wider end of the slab then pull it all the way to the narrow end of the slab.
Step 3 – Dry Rub Your Ribs.
Some people want to marinate before applying the dry rub on the ribs. Now this is totally up to what you prefer but if you do want to marinate your ribs do it a few hours prior to grilling. You can make your own dry rub or buy some at your local grocery store. Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil before rubbing the mixture on both sides of the ribs; the oil will help the rub penetrate the surface of the meat. Afterwards, wrap the ribs in tin foil or plastic wrap for at least 1 hour.
Step 4 – Choosing the Right Kind of Wood Chips
If you’re using a gas grill, choose the right kind of wood chips to use. Mesquite and hickory is the most popular and it gives the meat a great flavor. Dunk the chips in water (or wine, or beer, or whiskey or even fruit juice, depending on what you want) for 30 minutes. If, however, you are using charcoal grill, use larger wood chunks. Don’t forget to drain the water after immersing the chips.
Step 5 – Prepare the Grill
If you are using a gas grill, light up about half of the burners to create an indirect heat source. Smoke flavor makes your ribs tastier. Don’t put the wood chips directly on the flame because it will catch fire and burn out quickly. Put the wood chips in a smoking box or you can create your own “foil pouch” and place it between the flame and the grill surface.
If you’re using a charcoal grill, after the ash forms move the briquettes to one side of the grill. Place a couple of wood chunks on the coals and put a small baking pan of water on the cool side of the grill. This will give off steam, which will help keep the rib meat moist and tender.
Step 6 – Grill the Ribs
You will need to pay close attention to your ribs especially when using a charcoal grill, as it is hard to regulate the heat. You want to cook your ribs slowly to make the meat tender. Place the ribs bone side up and away from the heat. This will allow the ribs to self baste. Ribs normally cook through in about 4 to 5 hours, depending on the amount of meat you have on your grill and how many burners you have. After the first hour and a half you should flip it. Maintain 300 – 325 temperature while cooking your ribs. You can inspect the ribs visually; it should have a rich brown color. You can also try sticking a toothpick between 2 bones; if it goes through without resistance it means it is ok. Or you can use your tongs to pick up the ribs at the center of the slab. If the meat falls from the bone then it is ready. Spareribs will often take longer to grill than baby back ribs.
Step 7 – Spice it Up with BBQ Sauce
Brush your slab with barbecue sauce and give it 10 minutes to let the sauce cook into the meat.
I hope these few techniques will help you in your journey to learning how to grill ribs. This will take a bit of practice though, so don’t get discouraged after the first few times. It is definitely worth it to learn how to grill ribs properly. There are a lot of recipes online if you want to try out a few different types of sauces.