Ribs are a show-stopping dish at summer cookouts. 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 — who can help it? If you’re in charge of making finger-licking good ribs for a Labor Day gathering, we’ve got plenty of tips for how to grill them to mouthwatering perfection.
What is the best way to buy ribs?
The first step to making delish BBQ ribs is finding the right cut to grill. Sarah Jampel, food writer for Bon Appétit, explains the top three cuts of pork ribs you’ll find at the store:
- Spareribs: This cut comes from the belly (or underside) of the pig. Spareribs 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 fattier 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 YouTuber Crove Food Co. demonstrates how to remove the membrane from a rack of ribs in seconds.
What do you use to season ribs?
Ribs absorb a lot of flavor — so take advantage of that by using a dry rub. Dry rubs usually consist of salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and brown sugar. This gives the ribs smoky, sweet, and spicy flavors before they hit the grill. Buy a bottle of BBQ dry rub at the store or make your own blend.
Tony Sudak, professional chef and butcher for Walden Local, shares his ultimate rib rub recipe with First for Women. He suggests spreading yellow mustard and Tabasco sauce on the meat first to ensure that the rub sticks to the ribs.
Ultimate Rib Rub
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons red pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons mustard powder
- 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- Combine wet ingredients in small bowl and smother on ribs.
- Mix together dry ingredients in another bowl and coat ribs. The wet mixture will stick to the ribs and the dry mix will stick to the wet. (Adjust measurements if cooking several racks of ribs.)
- Your ribs are now ready to grill.
Should ribs be wrapped in foil when grilling?
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,” chef Sudak says.
How long does it take to grill ribs?
Cook times for ribs will depend on the heat of your grill – but ThePioneerWoman.com notes it should take about one and a half to two hours total. Also, grilling company Napoleon mentions that cooked ribs should reach an internal temperature of 195 to 203 degrees Fahrenheit using a meat thermometer.
Allow the slab to rest for 10 to 20 minutes before slicing into individual ribs and serving with extra BBQ sauce. There you have it: Homemade BBQ ribs that you and your guests will enjoy this Labor Day weekend!
Looking for additional grilling tips? Check out these stories:
- How To Grill Romaine Lettuce and Upgrade Your Summer Salads
- How To Cook Tender and Mouthwatering Fajitas on the Grill
- How to Grill the Tastiest and Juiciest Beef Burgers at Your 4th of July BBQ
- How to Grill Vegetables as (Side Dishes and Meat-Free Meals) at Your Next Summer BBQ
- How to Grill Chicken So It’s Juicier and More Flavorful To Serve at Your Next BBQ
- How to Grill Fish and Other Types of Seafood So It’s Perfectly Flaky and Tender
- How to Grill Steak and Get Juicy, Tender, Flavorful Meat Every Single Time