Tender Grilled Ribs Made Easy

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Grilling Ribs

There is nothing like a slab of ribs; Something primal about eating with your hands and being unable to avoid making a mess of your face. It’s kinda liberating.

I would pay money to see the Queen of England or the Duchess of Grantham eat ribs. It would be terribly entertaining. Cheerio!

There is something intimidating about making ribs, however. If they aren’t cooked well, then they are tough and unappetizing. And the thought of barbecuing ribs to perfection is a little daunting for the non-barbecue-er.

I have great news! You can do it! It’s not that hard.

In the grand scheme I use basically two methods to make ribs. The first method uses the grill to make the ribs. (Someday, if you are good, I’ll share the other method.)

grilling ribs tender

Grilling ribs has a few benefits.

1. It doesn’t heat up your house.

2. It gives your ribs an awesome “bark” and a smokey flavor.

3. It’s just cool.

Have I convinced you to try this at your next soiree? Great!


Get the ribs ready:

First remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs. It helps if you use a paper towel to grasp the slippery stuff.


Once that’s removed, it’s time to rub the ribs down with your favorite spice rub. I mostly focus on rubbing the ribs on the meaty side. This is my favorite combo of spices for the rub down.

rib rub

grilling ribs

grilling ribs

Now onto the methodology.

When you fire up your grill, obviously the surface of the grill gets pretty dang hot. This is great for searing steaks and getting grill marks. But not so awesome if you need to cook something for more than a few minutes. Ribs need more than a few minutes. They needs several hours, in fact.

I’ve explained this concept before. But just as a recap. Any meat that contains a lot of connective tissue (usually white sinewy looking type stuff) needs to be cooked at a low temperature for a long time, to turn that tough collagen into delicious and tender gelatin.

If you just throw the meat onto the grill, even at the lowest temperature, it will be burned to a crisp by the time the the collagen has turned to gelatin.

To get around this you need to employ a technique called indirect heat. This is  a method that allows you to slow cook something on the BBQ grill.

You will turn on one or two burners on your grill (depending on the size and power of your grill.)  Then you place your meat, next to, but not on top of those lit flames. Close the lid and the heat from the lit burner(s) will keep the inside of the grill hot, while keeping the most intense heat off the ribs. (Kinda like an oven.)

grilling ribs

grilling ribs-007


It’s a pretty good idea to cover the ribs with foil for the first 1-2 hours. This will help them not to get too dry.

tender grilled ribs made easy

Now close the lid. (The less you open and close the lid, the better. Especially if your grill’s lid isn’t heavy and good at holding in the heat.)

You will either need a wired probe thermometer with the probe set inside the grill, but not on top of the lit portions or a lid with a built in thermometer to help maintain a temperature range.

grilling ribs-001

You want to keep the temperature range at between 250 and 350 degrees. Turn your burner(s) up or down to achieve this temp.

It’s going to take a good 3-4 hours for the ribs to be fully tenderized and juicified.

At three hours, you should remove the foil and begin checking the doneness.  When the ribs are starting to fall off the bones, then you are ready to finish them up.

tender grilled ribs

Light all the burners and turn to a low to medium low heat.

Turn the ribs perpendicular to the grates.

tender grilled ribs made easy-001

Paint on your favorite BBQ sauce. Close the lid again and let the BBQ form a nice glaze on the ribs for about 5 minutes.

Flip the ribs and paint the back side and allow to sit for another 5 minutes.

Flip the ribs again and paint the meaty top of the ribs once again.

tender grilled ribs made easy-002

The sauce should have formed a nice shiny glaze. Remove the ribs to a cutting board or sheet pan and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. If you try to cut them immediately, you will be frustrated and sad. Because you will try to burn you fingers right off your hands.

Grilling Ribs

After they have rested, it is time to cut the ribs. This can be a tricky task. I recommend flipping them over so the meaty side is down. Then you can better see the pathway of the bones and cut between them. (I’m super bummed that I forgot to take a picture of this process :()

Now all that’s left to do, is eat up! And then pass out the wet wipes.

grilled ribs made easy


Grilled Ribs with Rib Rub

Grilled Ribs with Rib Rub


  • 1-2 Racks of pork ribs (either baby back, St Louis or spareribs)
  • 1 recipe of rib rub
  • 1 cup preferred BBQ sauce
  • For the Rib Rub
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more or less to your preference for heat)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt


  1. Remove silver skin from back side of ribs.
  2. Mix together rib rub and rub onto meaty side of ribs.
  3. Turn on 1-2 burners on your grill, then place the racks, ribs side down on the area to the side of the lit burners.
  4. Cover loosely with a piece of foil.
  5. Place probe thermometer in grill or using built in thermometer, maintain temperature of 250-350 degrees.
  6. Grill for 3-4 hours. Remove foil at 3 hours and begin checking for doneness.
  7. When meat is beginning to fall off bones, light all burners on low to medium low. Rotate ribs to place them over direct heat.
  8. Brush with BBQ sauce and allow to grill for 5 minutes. Then flip and paint the other side with sauce. Allow to grill 5 minutes, then flip again and paint with one more layer of sauce.
  9. BBQ sauce should be shiny and glazed.
  10. Remove ribs and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  11. Flip over so you can see the bones better and cut ribs apart.
  12. Serve.


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