Making Mouthwatering Ribs on the Grill

1. Introduction

  • My Passion for Grilling
  • Why Ribs on the Grill?

2. Preparing the Ribs

  • Choosing the Right Ribs
  • Preparing the Ribs for Grilling
  • Marinating or Dry Rub?

3. Setting Up the Grill

  • Selecting the Grill Type
  • Indirect vs. Direct

4. Grilling the Ribs

  • Temperature and Cooking Time
  • The Perfect Smoke
  • Basting and Mopping

5. Getting the Right Texture

  • Tender and Juicy Ribs
  • Achieving a Perfect

6. Bark BBQ Sauces and Glazes

  • My Favorite Homemade BBQ Sauce
  • Experimenting with Flavors

7. Sides and Pairings

  • Classic BBQ Side Dishes
  • Drinks to Complement the Ribs

8. Tips for a Successful Grilling

  • Keeping the Grill Clean
  • Avoiding Common Grilling Mistakes

9. Conclusion

10. FAQs


Ribs on the Grill: A Lip-Smacking Guide to Grilling Perfection

As a grilling enthusiast and self-proclaimed BBQ advisor, I believe there’s nothing quite like the joy of cooking ribs on the grill. The tantalizing aroma of smoky ribs and the succulent flavors are unmatched. In this article, I’ll share my secrets and suggestions for achieving grillmaster-level ribs every time.


My Passion for Grilling

Let me start by saying that grilling is more than just a cooking method for me; it’s a passion. The art of controlling fire and infusing food with delectable smokiness has always fascinated me. Among the various grilled dishes, ribs hold a special place in my heart. Whether it’s a casual backyard get-together or a festive celebration, ribs on the grill always steal the show.

Why Ribs on the Grill?

Grilling ribs not only impart a unique smoky flavor but also results in tender, juicy meat with a mouthwatering crust. The combination of slow cooking and smoke creates a culinary experience that captivates the taste buds and leaves a lasting impression on all who indulge in this BBQ delight.

Preparing the Ribs

Choosing the Right Ribs

Before firing up the grill, selecting the right ribs is crucial. Baby back ribs and spare ribs are popular choices, each offering distinct flavors and textures. Baby back ribs are leaner, more tender had less fatty, while spare ribs have more meat and a tastier richer flavor. Consider your preference and the occasion when making your choice. My advice is for your first time cook a slab of each and see which you prefer more. You will pay a little more for baby back ribs.

Preparing the Ribs for Grilling

Once you’ve chosen the ribs, it’s time to prepare them for the grill. I prefer to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs to ensure tenderness. This also allows for the seasoning to penetrate the underside of the ribs, while others leave it on for added flavor. Leaving the membrane can cause the meat to taste chewy or rubbery. Tenderizing the meat and trimming any excess fat are essential steps to guarantee an enjoyable eating experience.

Marinating or Dry Rub?

The debate between marinating and dry rubbing is ongoing in the grilling community. Both methods have their merits. Marinating allows flavors to penetrate the meat, while dry rubs create a flavorful crust. Personally, I often use dry rubs for ribs as they enhance the smoky flavor during the grilling process and make them easier to eat. You can always offer different sauces as a side for your family and friends to dip their meat into.

Setting Up the Grill

Selecting the Grill Type

When it comes to grilling ribs, you have various options, from charcoal and gas grills to pellet and electric grills. Each type has its unique advantages, so choose the one that aligns with your grilling style and preferences. Personally, I find that charcoal and pellet grills offer the best combination of smoky flavor and versatility. If you are going to use a gas grill make sure you invest in a smoke box to achieve some smoky flavor to your meats.

Indirect vs. Direct Heat

Grilling ribs requires a slow and gentle cooking process. To achieve this, I recommend using indirect heat. This means placing the ribs away from the heat source to cook them slowly and evenly. The indirect heat method prevents the meat from drying out and allows the smoke to work its magic. It will also have your guest talking about how easily the meat was to pull off the bone while eating them.

Grilling the Ribs

Temperature and Cooking Time

Maintaining a consistent temperature is essential for perfectly grilled ribs. For baby back ribs, I aim for a grill temperature of around 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C). Spare ribs may require slightly higher temperatures due to their thicker meat. Plan on grilling baby back ribs for approximately 4 to 5 hours and spare ribs for 5 to 6 hours. I always plan my start time the night before I make my mouth-watering ribs on the grill.

The Perfect Smoke

The key to achieving a rich smoky flavor is using the right type of wood chips or Pellets if you have a pellet grill. Fruitwoods like apple or cherry complement the natural sweetness of the ribs, while hickory and oak provide a stronger, bolder smokiness. Soak the wood chips in water or apple juice for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the grill. Another way I love to soak my wood chips is in an alcoholic beverage, such as beer, wine, or whiskey to enhance the flavor.

Basting and Mopping

During the grilling process, I find it a must to baste or mop the ribs to keep them moist and enhance the flavor. I create a simple basting sauce using a blend of apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and spices. Mop or brush the ribs every 45 minutes to an hour to ensure they stay succulent and prevent them from drying out. This is also a good time to grab another beer as you head back to the grill.

Getting the Right Texture

Tender and Juicy Ribs

The hallmark of well-grilled ribs is their tenderness and juiciness. Achieving the perfect texture requires patience and attention to detail. Slow cooking at low temperatures allows the connective tissues to break down, rendering the meat tender and moist. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness; the internal temperature should reach around 145°F to be done but cooking your ribs to 195°F  to 205°F  will give you that fall-off-the-bone deliciousness you want.

Achieving a Perfect Bark

The caramelized exterior of the ribs, known as the “bark,” adds an extra layer of flavor and texture. To make mouth-watering ribs on the grill that have the perfect bark, let the dry rub work its magic and resist the temptation to open the grill frequently. This way, the crust will develop beautifully as the ribs cook. Don’t make the common mistake of opening the grill too often to check on them, they aren’t going anywhere!

BBQ Sauces and Glazes

My Favorite Homemade BBQ Sauce

While perfectly grilled ribs are delightful on their own, adding your own famous BBQ sauce or glaze can take them to new heights. I have a secret homemade BBQ sauce recipe that combines tangy, sweet, and smoky flavors in perfect harmony. The sauce complements the ribs without overpowering their natural taste. Making your own sauce will take some time but when you master the flavor you want there is no better feeling than letting your guest know you are adding your secret sauce.

Experimenting with Flavors

Of course, BBQ sauce preferences vary among grill enthusiasts. Some enjoy a classic tomato-based BBQ sauce, while others prefer a spicier version with a kick of heat. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different sauce recipes or store-bought varieties to find your favorite flavor combination. Go online and compare a number of different recipes and then just start adding and deleting spices as you go.  If you don’t have time to make your own, I always have my 3 favorite Famous Daves sauces in my pantry that you can buy at any grocery store, Devil’s Spit for Super Spicy, Sweet & Zesty for a mix of flavors, and Rich & Sassy for a genuine barbeque flavor.

Sides and Pairings

Classic BBQ Side Dishes

To complete the perfect BBQ meal, pair your grilled ribs with classic BBQ side dishes. Some of my favorites include coleslaw, cornbread, baked beans, and grilled vegetables. These sides add variety and balance to the meal, creating a delightful and satisfying dining experience. And while your focus should be on learning to make the perfect ribs, I would also consider learning how to make the best moist flavorful cornbread. Paid those two together and you have a winning pair.

Drinks to Complement the Ribs

To elevate your BBQ gathering, serve refreshing drinks that complement the smoky flavors of the ribs. Lemonade, iced tea, or fruit-infused water are excellent choices for a cool and thirst-quenching experience. For those who enjoy alcoholic beverages like wine, I would choose a nice red wine that will match your rib’s flavor. If you are more of a hard alcohol drinker, then I would stick with a nice bourbon or whiskey to go with the smokiness. Beer drinkers tend to agree that an IPA or amber lager works best but the reality is any of the listed options will perfectly complement your grilled feast.

Tips for a Successful Grilling

Keeping the Grill Clean

Maintaining a clean grill is essential for optimal grilling performance so make sure to scrub the grates with a grill brush to remove any residue before getting started. Next, make sure to clean the drip tray to prevent grease buildup that can cause flare-ups. Remember we are slow cooking, so we don’t want any unexpected flare-ups causing uneven heat.

Avoiding Common Grilling Mistakes

Even seasoned grillers make mistakes, but learning from them is part of the journey. Avoid common grilling errors, such as lifting the lid too frequently, overusing strong-smelling wood, or rushing the cooking process. Patience and attention to detail are key to Making Mouthwatering Ribs on the Grill.


Grilling ribs is an art that combines patience, skill, and passion. With the right preparation, grilling techniques, and attention to detail, you can create ribs that will impress your guests and leave them craving for more. So, fire up the grill, follow these tips, and get ready to savor the irresistible flavors of tender, smoky ribs.


  1. What are the best wood chips for smoking ribs?
    • For a balanced and sweet smoky flavor, fruitwoods like apple and cherry are excellent choices. For a stronger smokiness, go for hickory or oak.
  2. Can I grill ribs on a gas grill?
    • Yes, you can grill ribs on a gas grill by using indirect heat and adding wood chips in a smoker box or foil pouch to infuse smoky flavor.
  3. How do I know when the ribs are done?
    • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ribs; it should reach around 195°F (90°C) for tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs.
  4. Should I wrap the ribs in foil while grilling?
    • Some grillers prefer the “Texas crutch” method, wrapping the ribs in foil during the cooking process to speed up tenderness. However, this can soften the bark.
  5. What are some alternative BBQ sauces to try?
    • Experiment with mustard-based, vinegar-based, or spicy BBQ sauces to explore different regional flavors and find your personal favorite.

Embrace your inner grillmaster, and let the irresistible aroma of grilled ribs captivate your senses and create unforgettable memories with friends and family. Happy grilling and bon appétit!

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Eric Nichols

My goal is to share my love for grilling, gadgets and mouthwatering spices and rub ideas. I look forward to sharing my findings to the widest audience possible in hopes of making us all Grilling Masters.

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