5 Simple Steps to Great Tasting BBQ Ribs

I love to BBQ all year around. It’s easier, of course, in the summer when the weather is nicer. I don’t like to hang out in the cold and blistery storms of the winter season.

5 Simple Steps to Great Tasting BBQ Ribs - Foodal

When I do BBQ, and have a bit of time, or incredible forethought and planning, I like to make ribs: beef, pork, short, or long, it doesn’t matter really.

I like them all.

And with this recipe and process, they are hard to beat.

First and foremost, I’m not a competitive rib cooker, so those that make their own sauces and rubs and such are almost certainly better.

My process, however, makes BBQ ribs pretty darn simple, almost prepare and forget.

Coupled with a solid flavor profile, these ribs will be a hit.

To me, the trick is the cooking process: low and slow. On a BBQ, low and slow is a bit of a challenge, but it is possible.

It’s easier with a gas grill where you can accurately control temperatures but a charcoal grill normally imparts better flavor (check out Foodal’s Gas vs Charcoal Grill article to see the pros and cons of each).

Whatever type of grill that you have, it is possible to use wood chips to add that rich smoke filled flavor if you so desire.

Following these 5 easy steps makes for good BBQ ribs:

1. Buy a BBQ/Oven Thermometer

It seems silly, but without one, you’ll have no real idea what the temperature is in the BBQ.

I don’t rely on the thermometer that comes with the BBQ either. I have another one. I’ve found the two can disagree by 50 degrees or more.

The one closer to the heat is typically more accurate.

For low and slow, the BBQ should be a pretty constant 300-325 degrees. With the BBQ outside, it is really important to pay attention to the sun as it can heat up the BBQ too.

I check my grill every 5-10 minutes in the first 30 minutes and about 15 minutes after that. Obviously the more you open it, the more heat escapes, so less is better.

Check out Foodal’s Meat Thermometer Buying Guide for more tips on finding the best model for your needs.

2. Cut the Ribs Into Serving Sizes

This is done in advance for a couple of reasons. One, it allows you to season more of the sides of the ribs and two, you have better control of sizing for cooking times. Also, cutting hot meat is a bit difficult and certainly not fun.

The size of the ribs will depend on the style you decide to buy. Read our guide for a more thorough explanation of the different cuts of ribs.

3. Find a Dry Rub You Like

The rub that I use changes…a lot. It really depends on what I find and also what I have. Some good base spices for a solid dry rub are:

  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic, both granulated and powdered
  • cayenne pepper
  • red pepper flake
  • brown sugar, used sparingly
  • lemon pepper

Be sure to check out Mike’s All Purpose Pork Dry Rub. It’s a dang fine base to start your unqiue blend off of.

I’ve also used premade rubs like spruced up Montreal Steak Seasonings, Memphis Dry Rub found at the dollar store, and those barbecue rubs from the professionals.

You can also check out the dry rub recipe found in Ashley’s Pulled Pork Recipe. Season both sides of the ribs liberally, really liberally.

4. Wrap the Ribs at Least Twice in Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil

You’re going to cook these ribs a long time. In order for them to retain their juices and not burn, they need to be wrapped well and tightly.

I usually wrap one way with one sheet of foil and then the other way with another. This helps seal all the seams and keep the juices from spilling out. It still happens occassionally, but it helps.

Keeping the juice contained helps keep the meat tender.

5. Sauce at the End if at All

Great Tasting BBQ Ribs Made Simple - Foodal

Lots of sauces are sugar based. If you know anything about sugar, it tends to burn. Not good for ribs.

After 2-3 hours of BBQ time — I typically shoot for 2.5 hours –, the ribs are fall-of-the-bone ready.

The ribs are unwrapped and put back on the grill at a little higher heat to brown and give them a little crisp.

After a bit of browning, I’ll hit them with sauce and only leave the ribs on long enough to heat the sauce up until it adheres a bit to the meat. The last time I made ribs, however, I didn’t use sauce at all.

I allowed my guests to sauce their own ribs to their own tastes. I provided several different types of sauce, explained the flavors of the ribs, and let them decide on their own.

Some even chose not to sauce at all.

By following these 5 simple steps, your ribs will turn out juicy, tender, and flavorful. Marrying a good dry rub with a sauce at the end and your BBQ will be a hit.

About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

38 thoughts on “5 Simple Steps to Great Tasting BBQ Ribs”

  1. Thanks for all the tips!

    Personally I swear by a BBQ over an oven, it gives it a much more distinct char, leading to better tasting ribs! I didn’t know the problem with sugar-based sauces existed! I always use honey glaze instead of BBQ sauces, perhaps the consequent burning issue isn’t as bad.

    Low and slow, I couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂

    • I agree that cooking ribs “low and slow” is one of the best tips. My mother cooked hers that way, and so do I. It makes the meat nice and tender and it gives it a great taste. I love BBQ ribs when they have been cooked that way, though I’ve also made them in an oven on occasion. They came out really well in the oven, but I prefer a grill most of the time.

    • I live an apartment and don’t have access to a BBQ. I know you prefer to make it in the oven, but do you have any experience using an oven to cook ribs? I understand that grilling is generally better, but I would love to be able to whip up a batch in my oven.

      • When I make ribs in the oven, I usually put it in a baking tray with an inch or two of seasoned water so I can bast the meat every ten minutes or so. I normally have the temperature at around 250 and I just slow bake it until it is nice and tender. I season the water with spices like allspice, brown sugar, liquid smoke (so I can give the meat that smoky flavor) and adobe and I spoon it over the rack to keep it from cooking out the moisture in the meat. The meat is also dry rubbed with the same spices so it forms a nice glaze to it when it is finally done. If my memory serves, I do believe that certain stores sell small portable grills that can easily fit in a small apartment since they are normally placed on the counter.

  2. Mm, I love BBQ. I have not mastered the art of making it though. Hopefully these tips will help. I have always bought dry rubs in the past but I should just make my own after looking at your recipe. I will try these tips when I make ribs next week. Wish me luck 🙂

    • Keep at it! I didn’t think I’d ever be able to make something very tasty, but these tips improved the flavour of some meats I was cooking in the oven earlier. It actually made a drastic difference to how I viewed cooking BBQ foods.

  3. I love ribs on the BBQ, and like yourself I live in an area that has winter…to be exact about 8 months of cold gross weather, so summer is the ideal season, I have imitated this method in the oven just to be able to stay out of the cold and I have also found that there is a bit of a ‘burn’ to the sauce when left to cook too long, it’s really best to marinate them in a brine almost with a touch of dry rub, which a sauce at that point is just to ‘sweeten the deal.

  4. I never thought about cutting the rib into serving size pieces before cooking. Cutting hot slabs is pretty messy and quite painful when the meat is hot. What a simple solution and a great idea.

    I have experimented with rubs only briefly and usually wind up with a marinade. I will have to give the basics you list here a try. It sounds delicious. A savory seasoning is almost guaranteed to have guests second guessing putting sauce over the meat as they savor the blended flavors.

  5. BBQ ribs are delicious. They’re not often made in my household where we have a grill, but this article makes me want to get some done. The “low and slow” approach sounds like very good advice regardless of the added time it might take, because I can just imagine how much better the taste and quality of the ribs would be. Cutting the ribs into serving sizes also sounds like a good technique. Perhaps I’ll have some ribs made in the near future now.

  6. The last time i ate bbq’ d ribs, i wanted more and more and i had no clue how to prepare or make them and the person i’ d asked was a bit selfish with information..now am all smiles because this weekend, am going all out, i have the ultimate recipe, what more can i ask for?

  7. I love ribs and I can’t wait for the summer time to be able to BBQ them again. My husband makes the best ribs ever, but these sound even more delicious. When my husband makes them he doesn’t dry rub them first. He just cooks them slow for a few hours and then during the last 15 minutes he coats them wit

  8. Thanks for posting this recipe! I have to say that I had been searching for a slow cooked rib recipe and this one seem to be a delicious one. I feel that the cooking info that I get from this blog could be shared with all of my friends and family members.

  9. I have to say that I had been searching for a slow cooked rib recipe and this one seem to be a delicious one. I feel that the cooking info that I get from this blog could be shared with all of my friends and family members.

  10. For some reason every year that we try to do ribs we fail and they never turn out quite as we expect. They are never a complete fail but just that, they don’t turn out as we expect. This year I am going to try this recipe word for word and hope it turns out. It sounds amazing and I really wanna just have a successful dinner with my love 🙂

  11. Some great tips here – my ribs don’t always succeed but I had never thought to wrap them in foil before. Once the UK winter is over and the sun comes out, I’ll be giving that a try. I coat my ribs at the end of cooking too – if you do it at the start, the juices that run off can dilute the sauce and stop it from sticking.

    • Just to report back that we’ve had some really sunny weather here inthe UK recently so out came the BBQ! Following the above tips, the ribs ended up being the tastiest and tenderest I’d ever managed to cook so a great big thank you is in order!

  12. That picture… Mmmmm! I have always cooked ribs low and slow. Good tip about cutting them into servings sizes. Thanks for that. it should make them cook more evenly that way. Sometimes it’s hard to know if all of them are done, and I don’t want to be poking all over the place, letting the juices run out.

    I like “Steak Seasoning” from Aldi’s. It’s a bottle of spices blended together for 99 cents. Can’t beat that, and it’s delicious on many things, including ribs.

  13. I’m definitely going to keep these methods in mind the next time I see ribs on sale. I saw some the other day, but bypassed them, because I want to grill, and have never grilled ribs before. I wouldn’t have thought to wrap them in foil, and didn’t realize I could cook them low and slow on the grill. These are some great tips, and I can’t wait to implement them!

  14. I do a dry & a wet. I’ve always done this if only because the recipe my family has used forever has always been the same. The issue I have is really geared toward which to choose: Beef or Pork? I know pork is a tad on the fattier side & may give you a juicer rib but I’m not a huge fan of pork in general so I usually opt for beef.

  15. There are a bunch of tips I like here! My dad grew up in the south, where BBQ is king, and proclaimed himself the in-house BBQ “auteur” as a result. The one technique he swore by is one that I have since given up on, that’s par-boiling, or precooking the ribs slightly in a vinegary, peppery solution. Essentially, he was simply leaving them on the grill to soak up the smoked flavor instead of cooking the meat completely on the grill. I like the idea of cutting the ribs into serving size pieces, simple but brilliant! I normally sauce them myself, but I’m open to offering my guests the choice of saucing to their own taste.

  16. I came here to say Low and Slow and Sauce at the end. That’s my BBQ rule and you nailed it! I am going to try your dry rub blend too seems quite nice, might add a little more kick to it.
    Here up north it is hard to find good BBQ, which is why we have to do it ourselves!

  17. Oooh gosh this post makes me miss ribs so much! The pictures! I can almost smell them and feel the caramelized goodness on my lips! Urghhh

    But that’s a very helpful point about the sauce. I usually see people marinating right away with the sauce, and I think that’s why their heavily sauced meat come out more charred than yummy. I’ll be sure to direct them to this bit of advice!

  18. Truth be told, I’ve never been happy with how our homemade ribs have turned out. We typically swear we can cook any dish at home better than you can get outside, but ribs we’ve never been able to. Looking at trying out your techniques here, hopefully we’ll experience some success! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Ribs are probably one of my favorite foods to order when I go to a restaurant. I have never tried to cook them at home. I love BBQing in the summertime. We cook all kinds of things but we have never prepared a rack. After reading this article I am definitely going to attempt a rack or two on the grill. Yours look delicious. I hope mine look as good!

  20. Mmm your barbecu look so tasty! I’m a pretty amateur cook and I’ve never heard of some of these techniques you’ve described, my ribs usually turn out either blackened or too pale. Normally I use BBQ sauce on my ribs, but a dry rub will definitely reduce charring. I’ll see if I can find a ready-made seasoning in the supermarket (I live in New Zealand and there’s not a lot of variety here compared to the US). I’ll definitely follow these tips religiously.

  21. Man, I really can’t wait to put these tips into place. I enjoy BBQ just as much as the next Southern, and it’s a summer must! I will definitely be keeping these tips in mind the next time I’m in the kitchen or at the grill.

  22. Aw, I was really hoping for an homemade BBQ sauce recipe — truth is, I really wanna try seitan ribs, but I don’t have sauce at home, so I was hoping that, instead of buying it in a bottle with a specific flavour already there (and I’m very picky about them, so I’d have to try a lot! hahaha), I could have one of your great recipes to start out from! Oh well, I’ll stay posted. Maybe it comes later!

  23. I am always looking for a new and different way to make ribs! I think I will come back here and grab this the next time I pull a pack out of my freezer. Usually I leave the grilling to my fiance but he leaves the seasoning to me. I can just imagine what he will say when he gets a different taste this time! I think I better start collecting the ingredients i’m missing now so I am prepared for this mouth-watering surprise! Thank you!

  24. Montreal Steak Seasoning is fantastic. I’m also going to try Ashley’s rub recipe though. I recently bought some ribs, so I can test it out. It’s the perfect time of year for making them, since it’s not as much fun to have the grill going all day when it’s hot out. Now that it’s getting cooler, it’s perfect. A nice breeze to waft the delicious aroma of ribs all around! haha.

    The suggestion for wood chips is a a great idea. I’m going to use that too, when we make our feast.

  25. There is a rib joint down the street of my house. I have yet to try it out but every time I walk pass the place, it is so tempting. I’m thinking of going there when it is a bit colder. That way during the winter when it is cold, I can have my BBQ ribs to remind me of summer. Whoever tries to BBQ in the winter is a brave soul.

  26. I would even make these during the winter time Ribs are fantastic and I don’t get to have them very often. I don’t think you can get as good of ribs from a restaurant as you can getting them from a good store and making them at home. I’ve got to have the thick meat ones. I get really disappointed when I’m excited to eat ribs and find out there’s barely any meat on the bones.

  27. Oh my God! I want my ribs to look like the ones in the photos. They look so tasty and moist. Thanks so much for the recipe. I’ve tried many times throughout the years to make the perfect ribs, but I always ended liking them better when someone else did the cooking of them. Thanks to your tips, I finally realized what I was doing wrong. It was 2 things. I wasn’t using all the rub spices you use, and I wasn’t sealing in the ribs while they were cooking so all the juices would drop on the charcoal and be lost. I know my ribs will come out fantastic the next time around!

  28. I’m one of those people that prefers their ribs without sauce. Often times I find that too much sauce is drizzled over the ribs, and the sauce tends to be a bit too sweet, cutting into the savory aspect of the ribs.

    I do enjoy a nice bit of char on my ribs though, nothing beats a good old charcoal-fired barbecue in my opinion.

  29. Numbers two and five are the most important for me. For starters, it is easier for both the people cooking and the people eating to handle, although still messy. I’d rather have a small mess than a large one. There may or may not be any real benefits for marinating before/during cooking, so I always like to do it afterwards; the taste seems more “rewarding.”

  30. I can never get enough ribs. Yours look excellent and you hit the nail on the head with controlling the grill temp, very important. A friend of mine always simmers his in 2 liters of cola, then tosses them on the grill with sauce to finish. My approach is much more like yours as I prefer a dry rub. If one thing is for sure, they can be made an endless amount of ways and still taste amazing!

  31. This is very good, informational too. I tend to cook (boneless) ribs in the crockpot all day, then throw them on the grill for about 10-15 mins with some bbq sauce to finish it. It usually turns out very well, Sometimes I notice the more sugar the bbq sauce contains, the less time I cook it with it on there, it burns quickly.


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