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.
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:
- 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
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!