How to Cook Ribs on the Grill: A Step-by-Step Guide

Few things are as satisfying as sinking your teeth into juicy and tender ribs that have been slow-cooked on the grill. Cooking ribs on the grill can seem daunting, but it’s actually a fairly simple process that yields delicious results. In this article, we’ll show you how to cook ribs on the grill, step-by-step.

Choosing the Right Ribs

Before you start cooking, you need to choose the right ribs. There are two main types of ribs: baby back ribs and spare ribs. Baby back ribs come from the loin area and are smaller and more tender, while spare ribs come from the belly and have more fat and connective tissue.

When choosing your ribs, look for ribs that have a good amount of meat on them and are not too fatty. You should also look for ribs that have been trimmed and have a nice shape.

Preparing the Ribs

Before you start cooking, you need to prepare the ribs. This involves removing the membrane from the back of the ribs, which can be tough and chewy when cooked. To remove the membrane, use a knife to loosen one corner of the membrane, then grab it with a paper towel and peel it off.

Once you’ve removed the membrane, you need to season the ribs. You can use a dry rub or a wet marinade to do this. A dry rub is a mixture of spices that you rub onto the ribs, while a wet marinade is a mixture of liquids and spices that you soak the ribs in. Both methods can result in delicious ribs, so it’s really a matter of personal preference.

Grilling the Ribs

Grilling the ribs will require you to cook them over indirect heat. This means that you will need to use a two-zone fire, where one side of the grill is hotter than the other.

To set up a two-zone fire, light your charcoal or turn on your gas grill and let it heat up. Once it’s hot, move the charcoal to one side of the grill or turn off one of the burners, creating a hot side and a cooler side.

Once your grill is set up, place the ribs on the cooler side of the grill, bone side down. You want to cook the ribs low and slow, so keep the lid closed and adjust the vents to maintain a temperature of around 225°F to 250°F.

Cooking time will depend on the type of ribs you’re using and how thick they are. As a general rule, baby back ribs will take around 3 to 4 hours to cook, while spare ribs can take 5 to 6 hours.

During the cooking process, you can baste the ribs with a mop sauce or spray them with apple juice to keep them moist and add flavor.

Finishing the Ribs

Once the ribs are cooked, it’s time to finish them off. You can do this by basting them with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and grilling them over direct heat for a few minutes on each side. This will caramelize the sauce and give the ribs a nice char.

Alternatively, you can serve the ribs without sauce, allowing the smoky flavor to shine through.


Can I cook ribs on a gas grill?

Yes, you can cook ribs on a gas grill. Simply set up a two-zone fire and follow the same steps as you would for a charcoal grill.

Do I need to soak wood chips before using them?

No, you don’t need to soak wood chips before using them. Soaking them may produce more smoke, but it can also create steam, which can interfere with the cooking process.

What temperature should I cook ribs to?

You want to cook ribs to an internal temperature of 190°F to 203°F. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.

Can I cook ribs in the oven before grilling?

Yes, you can cook ribs in the oven before grilling them. This is called the “2-2-1” method, where you cook the ribs in the oven for 2 hours, then wrap them in foil and cook for another 2 hours, then grill them for 1 hour with sauce.

Can I freeze cooked ribs?

Yes, you can freeze cooked ribs. Wrap them tightly in foil or plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

In conclusion, cooking ribs on the grill is a delicious and rewarding experience. With a little bit of preparation and patience, you can create tender and juicy ribs that will impress your friends and family. So fire up your grill and get cooking!