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How to Grill Ribs So They’re Finger-Licking Tender + Delicious for Your July 4th Cookout

This foil trick locks in the flavor and moisture — so easy for best-ever BBQ ribs!

Ribs are a show-stopping dish during summer holidays including July 4th as you can’t go wrong with tender meat slathered in rich BBQ sauce. Plus, it’s one of the few dishes that you’re expected to eat messily — which makes it even more enjoyable. If you’re in charge of making ribs for an Independence Day gathering, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide for how to grill ribs, which includes tips and a recipe for creating fall-off-the-bone delicious meat!

The different cuts of ribs you can buy

The first step to making delish BBQ ribs is finding the right cut to grill. Below, Sarah Jampel, food writer and recipe developer, lists three common cuts of pork ribs you’ll find at the store.

  • Spare ribs: This cut comes from the belly (or underside) of the pig. Spare ribs have a good amount of succulent meat attached once the belly portion is trimmed away.
  • St. Louis-style ribs: These ribs have a uniform, rectangle shape. St. Louis-style ribs have less meat than baby back ribs, but are fatter and thinner.
  • Baby back ribs: With a curvier and shorter length than spare ribs, these ribs earn their “baby” title. Baby back ribs come from the loin area.

A packaged slab of ribs will list its cut, so you choose the correct one for your recipe. Don’t hesitate to ask the butcher any questions if you’re buying from the meat counter.

How do you prepare ribs before grilling?

Tough and chewy ribs don’t deserve a spot in your BBQ spread. Removing the ribs’ membrane (also called silverskin) prevents the meat from getting a leathery texture. Plus, it allows for more seasonings to get directly onto the ribs. This video from Crove Food Co. demonstrates how to remove the membrane from a rack of ribs in seconds.

Grilling pro’s top tip for best-ever BBQ ribs

Grill manufacturer Weber recommends double-wrapping each rack in foil before grilling to lock in the flavor and moisture. Worried you might not get that smoky charred crust by wrapping them? Weber suggests removing the ribs out of the foil once they’re mostly cooked and placing them back on the grill for 10 to 12 minutes. During this time, flip and generously baste the ribs with BBQ sauce one or two times. “I usually add the sauce to ribs during the final minutes of cooking, so that way you can avoid burning the sauce too early,” Tony Sudak, professional chef and butcher for Walden Local Meat, says.

Our favorite BBQ ribs recipe

Using these tips, you’ll make our test kitchen’s Glazed BBQ Ribs recipe without hassle! (Read our guides on how to grill hot dogs and how to grill burgers for more grilling pointers.)

Glazed BBQ Ribs

Glazed BBQ ribs as part of a guide on how to grill this meat
Rhapsody Media

Rubbed with sweet and savory spices, these supremely tender ribs are sure to satisfy your gang.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 rack pork spareribs, about 4 lbs.

Directions:

  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 2 hrs., 25 min. + grill prep time
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Prepare grill for medium indirect-heat cooking. In pot, combine ketchup, honey, vinegar and ¼ tsp. garlic powder; over medium heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reserve.
  2. Combine remaining ¾ tsp. garlic powder with cumin, cinnamon and ½ tsp. salt; rub all over ribs. Cut rack into 4 sections. Place ribs meaty side down on grill. Cover; cook 15 minutes. Flip ribs over. Cover; cook until very tender, 1½ to 2 hours, brushing with glaze several times during last 15 minutes of cooking time. Let stand 10 minutes. before serving.
  3. Bonus: Read our story on how to reheat ribs to enjoy those leftovers the next day.

Keep reading for more mouthwatering BBQ-worthy recipes!

Shortcut Smoked Brisket Recipe Cooks Up Juicy + Tender in Half the Time — Perfect for Father’s Day

How to Grill Fish: Chef’s Trick Creates Tender Fillets That Won’t Stick to the Grates

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends: You’ll Love These Smoky Meaty Bites — BBQ Champion’s 5-Ingredient Recipe

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