How to cook ribs on the grill perfectly every time

·5 min read

Grilling is far and away one of the best activities to do when summer comes around (or even in the months leading up to summer). But there's a lot more to grilling then just turning the flame on high or getting your charcoals smoking and hoping for the best. Cooking ribs on the grill, for instance, takes careful preparation to guarantee that the meat is cooked well while also preserving the delicious flavor and tender fall-off-the-bone texture. Follow these steps and you can avoid making grilling mistakes.

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How to prep ribs

Before grilling, you will need to prep the ribs. Make sure to pat your ribs dry first so they're easier to work with. (Not doing so is also a common mistake beginners make when grilling chicken.)

Then, using a sharp knife, trim off any excess fat and any silver skin you may see. Also be sure to remove the membrane covering the rib bones by using a butter knife to rib a little holl in the small end of the rack. Using the knife and a paper towel, pull the membrane away from the ribs.

Then, it's time to apply the rub. For this recipe, make a herby mixture out of sugar, thyme, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes and other seasonings. Season the ribs generously with this blend and let it marinate in the refrigerator. You can change the seasonings according to your palate. If you want a sweeter rub, add more sugar. Or if you want your ribs to have more kick, add extra cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. The ribs can be left in the fridge for up to two days. Just make sure you remove them from the fridge an hour or so before cooking; ribs are best cooked from room temperature.

How to ready the grill for ribs

You can choose to use a charcoal grill or a gas grill for your ribs; both will cook them well. If you’re using a charcoal grill, heat the grill until the charcoals are covered with gray ash and then separate them into two sides of the grill while leaving the center empty. Before putting the meat on the grill, add soaked wood chips among the coals. If you’re using a gas grill, turn it on high. Then, wrap the soaked wood chips in aluminum foil with several punctured holes and set them under the cooking grate close to the flames. Wood chips will help add that smokey flavor to your meat just like if you were to grill the meat on top of a cedar plank.

How to cook ribs on the grill

Finally, add your ribs to the grill, but not directly over the heat. Let the meat cook for about an hour on each side until it’s fork-tender and juices run clear. If desired, you can slather some barbecue sauce on the ribs while they cook. It's beneficial to have a meat thermometer on hand when cooking anything but especially grilling ribs. Ribs reach their ideal temperature at 145F. A thermometer could come in handy to make sure you grill steak perfectly every time as well. Now that you know how to master cooking ribs on the grill, you may want to try a hand at more of our all-time best grilling recipes.

Herb-rubbed Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients:

For the ribs:

  • 3 pounds baby back pork ribs (2 or 3 large slabs)

  • Herby rib rub

  • Cherry or apple wood chunks

  • Barbecue sauce, optional

For the Herby rib rub:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons coarse (kosher) salt

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender (optional)

Directions:

For the ribs:

Step 1: Pat 2-3 racks of baby back ribs dry. If desired, cut each slab in half or into 3 sections. Season generously on all sides with some of the rib rub. Refrigerate loosely covered for up to 2 days. Remove from refrigerator while you prepare the grill so the ribs start to come to room temperature

Step 2: Soak wood chunks in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. When the coals are covered with a gray ash, arrange them on two sides of the grill leaving the center empty. Place a drip pan on the bottom of the grill and place the cooking grate on top. If using a gas grill, turn off the burners in the center of the grill and turn the other burners to medium.

Step 4: Just before you put the meat on the grill, nestle a few drained wood chunks amongst the hot coals. If using a gas grill, wrap the wood chunks in aluminum foil and puncture the package with several holes. Place it under the cooking grate, close to the flames. Put ribs on the grill over the drip pan (not directly over the heat). Cover grill and cook, turning once, until fork-tender and juices run clear, about 1 1/4 hours.

Step 5: Remove from grill; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

For the Herby rib rub:

Step 1: Mix 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons coarse (kosher) salt in a mortar and pestle (or in a small dish).

Step 2: Add 2 teaspoons each dried thyme leaves and dried oregano leaves, 1 teaspoon each dried rosemary leaves and crushed red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon each freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder and dried lavender (optional). Use the pestle to grind everything together to release the oils in the dried herbs. If working in a bowl, use the handle end of a wooden spoon, or a cocktail muddler, to crush the herbs into the salt and sugar.

Step 3: Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

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