How To Cook Ribs On Weber Charcoal Grill

Smoking Ribs On A Weber Grill

Baby Back Ribs on the Weber Charcoal Grill

Smoking ribs on a Weber Kettle is easy if you have the right equipment, and if you know the procedure.

For less than $16, you can turn your Weber grill into a barbecue smoker.

The following is a step by step guide, with an over the shoulder approach, on how to smoke truly world class baby back ribs.

When we published our review of the Weber Performer Charcoal Grill, we called it a best buy. Since then, we have sold thousands of dollars worth of them, and decided to find out if the Performer could barbecue ribs at least almost as well as a dedicated barbecue smoker.

What we found was astonishing. Not only did our tasters love the outcome, most of them preferred the ribs smoked on my under $400 Weber Performer to those from my $3,200 Pitts and Spits custom built barbecue pit! This next sentence is hard to write. I was one of them the ribs smoked in the Weber Performer were better.

The Type Of Rib Determines Grilling Time

Most often, when people talk about ribs, they mean pork ribs. However, thats not to say that pork is the only type. Beef short ribs have become immensely popular , lamb ribs are also super delicious when cooked just right.

Were going to stick to pork ribs here, and there are three popular types to try out:

  • Spareribs: Cut from the meaty lower part of the pig.
  • Louis-style ribs: Same cut as spareribs, minus the breastbone and cartilage.
  • Baby back ribs: These are found where the spine and ribs meet. Now, dont worry, baby back ribs arent from baby piglets they simply get their name for the shorter size than spareribs.

Although these are different types of ribs, they all require low and slow cooking to become moist, juicy, and tender.

The cut will determine the cooking time.

Due to the difference in size, cooking time will differ. Spares will need significantly longer than baby backs. For example, if you were to cook the two types at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, baby backs will need four to six hours, whereas spares need five to seven hours.

The type of grill youre using will also impact how the ribs cook and the flavors. A charcoal grill is ideal for ultra-tasty, tender ribs due to its low n slow process. But, thats not to say that its impossible to cook delicious ribs on a gas grill its very much possible, and were going to show you how.

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Feel Free To Marinate The Ribs Before Grilling

If you really, really need tender grilled ribs, then you need to marinate them.

This is done mostly so the meat will remain tender, and also replace a dry rub .

When marinating, youre going to let the ribs sit in there for a whole day before grilling them.

An example of a good marinade for grilled baby back ribs would be :

  • half cup beef stock, or 2 beef boullion cubes
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds, powdered
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Remember, this mostly replaces the dry rub. The flavors will have time to penetrate the meat and make it nice and savory to the bone.

The marinade will also tenderize the meat, as the vinegar is a mild sort of acid. The meat will remain tender, since the vinegar will very slowly break down its bonds.

This method also works with red wine, but it wouldnt suit grilled ribs.

Now, get a very large bowl, and mix all the ingredients. Place inside the bowl the ribs, and make sure to completely cover them.

If youve got good, large Ziploc bags, use those instead of the bowl. Add the ribs in the bags, evenly distribute the marinade in each bag, and do your best to push out all the air in those bags before closing them.

But if youre using a bowl, you just need to saran wrap it very well, and make sure no air escapes.

Whichever method youre using, you need to store the meat in the fridge for up to 24 hours. A minimum of 8 is needed.

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How To Check The Readiness Of The Ribs

Here are three quick methods you can use to check if the ribs are ready for munching!

  • The Twist Grab a rib in the middle of the rack, and pinch its tip. Use a small amount of force to twist the rib. If the meat starts to fall off, the ribs are done.
  • The Bend Take cooking tongs and grab the rack at the middle. Carefully lift it and watch the meat. If small rifts appear, and the meat breaks apart, the ribs are ready.
  • The good old Toothpick test This test is used in the kitchen a lot, and it applies here as well. Take a toothpick and poke the meat between the ribs. If the meat shows no resistance, the ribs are ready. Just make sure to poke around, and not in a single spot only.
  • Equipment And Materials Needed

    Top BBQs &  Grill Buying Guide  Gentleman

    1. A Charcoal Grill, Minimum 22 Diameter

    Anything smaller wont allow you to place the meat far enough from the heat source to keep the temperature down to 225 degrees F. Gas grills arent covered in this article, and probably wont be..anywhere on this website for low and slow cooking. Im not a fan of gassers for anything but high temp grilling for those lazy moments when were willing to sacrifice taste for convenience.

    2. A Charcoal Basket

    The charcoal and wood should be stacked vertically so as to keep them as far away from the food as possible. There are two alternatives:

    A. The Smokenator

    This device fits a 22 kettle grill, and holds plenty of fuel. It also has a tank for water, which adds moisture to the meat. The Smokenator has strong reviews with some rabid fans, and is an elegant, well-built, drop-in solution for converting a Weber to a smoker. Its also $60, and in my humble opinion, unnecessary, due to option B below. But, if you prefer a one step solution or are looking for a great gift for your favorite outdoor chef, here it is. Smokenator 1000 Transform Your 22 Weber Kettle Into Efficient Smoker.

    B. A Weber Charcoal Briquet Holder and a Dollar Store Aluminum Pan

    If you dont have the briquet holder, youll need one, and you can get it here: Weber Basket Charcoal Briquet Holders

    3. Charcoal and Wood Chunks

    4. Ribs

    5. Dry Rub

    1/4 cup brown sugar or turbinado sugar1 tblsp. Kosher salt1 tblsp. Sweet Hungarian paprika1 tsp. chili powder

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    How Long To Cook Ribs On A Grill

    Everyone likes to nib on a tasty rib! There are many recipes, from slow cooking and smoking to straight on grilling ribs, and the latter turned out to be the favorite of many. The main reason is, of course, the chance to get into it without having to worry about grease and rules in general. There is no special fork for ribs, and the whole grill cookout is interactive and fun for everyone, not just the cook.

    In this guide, we will go through the most important info you need to get to that delicious and fun experience of eating nicely cooked ribs. People often think that grilling is easy, especially when it comes to larger pieces of meat, but that kind of attitude will only leave you with a chewy or charcoal-like meal, which no one likes. Not to mention the time invested, let alone the money for the meat and everything in between.

    Prepare Your Weber Kettle For Smoking

    Now that the ribs are prepped it is time to get your smoker ready. I do most of my smoking on my Weber charcoal grill at around 250F.

    To set up your grill you will need to fill a charcoal basket with about 30 Kingsford briquettes and place the basket on the left side of the charcoal grate.

    Use a paraffin lighter cube, propane torch, etc to light the top corner of the charcoal bed. Set the bottom air vent to about 20% open and leave the top air vent completely open.

    Once the corner of the charcoal bed is lit you can add a few chunks of smoking wood.

    I like to put a few chunks directly over the lit coals and another one further back in the bed. This makes sure the ribs get plenty of smoke when they first start cooking and a little boost of smoke later on.

    As far as wood choice, I like using maple or apple for baby backs when I want a mild smoke flavor and hickory when I want a stronger smoke profile. For this cook I used hickory.

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    How Long Does It Take To Cook Ribs On Charcoal

    All ribs benefit from grilling over low, consistent heat. Youll want to keep the temperature at a steady heat of 225F . This means you need about 5 -6 hours for the ribs to cook.

    To prepare your ribs on the grill make sure you have the following equipment:

    • An aluminum pan to fit the grill
    • Aluminum foil
    • Sharp knife and meat scissors

    Fire up your charcoal grill and get ready to cook your rack of ribs. Here are estimate times you can count on when planning your barbeque:

    • The first stage is placing your ribs bone-side down on the grill unwrapped. Estimate 2-3 hours for this stage. Youll be turning your meat over regularly during this time. The time depends also on how many ribs you are going to grill.
    • The next stage is wrapping your ribs in aluminum foil. We do this to keep in the heat and maintain the internal temperature of the meat. The foil keeps the juices in, giving you succulent ribs. The timing here is 2 hours.
    • For the last stage, remove the wrapping from the ribs. Place back on the grill and cook for another hour.

    Remember: baby back ribs generally cook for an hour less than your spare ribs. Youll need to check on your fire regularly to maintain the correct temperature.

    Prepare The Baby Back Ribs

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    If you are using a 22 inch Weber kettle then you can easily fit two slabs of baby backs on the grill but for this cook I only cooked one.

    We are going to start with a slab of baby back ribs that weighs about 3 pounds.

    The first thing we are going to do is flip these ribs over. We want the meat side down and the bone side up.

    There is a membrane on the back of these ribs and we need to take it off. Get started by using a butter knife and prying up a section of the membrane.

    Once a section of the membrane has been separated you can grab it with a paper towel and pull the whole thing off.

    Here is what it will look like when you are done.

    Now that the membrane is off we can apply a dry rub.

    Some folks like to put the dry rub directly on the meat. Other folks like to get the meat damp to help the rub stick better.

    To get the meat damp you can apply a thin coating of oil or a little bit of mustard. This step is completely optional but for this cook I went with a little mustard. If mustard does not float your boat then a thin coating of olive oil or mayonnaise works great as well.

    Liberally apply your dry rub to BOTH SIDES of the ribs.

    Dry Rub for Smoked Baby Back Ribs

    • 1 cup turbinado sugar

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    About Cooking On A Charcoal Grill

    While grilling with charcoal doesnt offer the instant gratification of cooking on a gas grill, the results are more than worth the extra time and effort youll put in. The meat will sear more evenly, and a charcoal fire will impart more rich, smoky flavor than a gas flame. This difference isnt as noticeable if youre grilling pre-cooked sausages such as bratwurst, but when youre using the grill for long, slow cookingas with this smoked beef back ribs recipeyoull definitely appreciate the boost in flavor.

    Look for charcoal with as few additives as possible. If its advertised as additive-free, thats the kind you want. Avoid any match light varietiesthese contain lighter fluid additives that will adversely affect the flavor of your meat. You should also steer clear of briquettes that advertise real mesquite flavor or something similar. If youve done your work properly, the meat will achieve that flavor on its own.

    If you can find lump charcoal, consider using this in your smoker instead of briquettes. Lump charcoal is actually wood that has been fired into charcoal, so it burns more cleanly and produces less ash than briquettes, which are typically formed out of sawdust. It also burns hotter, but this shouldnt be a problem as long as your smokers adjustable air vents are in good working order.

    How Do I Grill Baby Back Ribs On A Weber Q Grill

    The Weber Q Grill is actually a series of portable gas grills conveniently toted to parks, camping trips or tailgating events. The grills are not designed for quantity, with a smaller grill surface. These grills have an average cooking area of 280 sq. inches, at least half of standard gas grills. Break a rack of ribs down into smaller components to cook sequentially. You don’t need to to adjust other preparations such as favorite seasonings or marinades using a Weber.

    Video of the Day

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    Smoking On A Weber Kettle

    A Weber Kettle is the classic round charcoal grill you all remember. It is not a smoker but you can set it up to smoke and it is not too hard to do.

    What you are going to do is set up for 2 zone cooking. You want a hot side and an indirect side. There are a few methods for achieving this.

    Dad went with the simple charcoal on one side and a water pan on the other.

    Once the ribs are prepped and the grill is set up and up to temp set them on the indirect side and cook for 2-3 hours at 250-275 degrees.

    How To Prepare The Grill

    EASY Baby Back Ribs on the Weber Grill

    Our main aim here is to turn our grill into a smoker. This actually takes a bit of skill because we need to keep a good, constant heat of about 250F/120 C. Not only will this require the use of a good meat thermometer, but also a little knowledge of indirect cooking.

    If youre unfamiliar with indirect cooking, its a method that places charcoal lumpwood under one half of your grill grate, leaving the other side clear. You then put your meat on this clear side, allowing the heat inside the grill to cook it rather than the direct heat from the flames.

    For a full guide check out my guide to indirect grilling.

    With this approach, were going to be a bit creative and call on the help of a disposable aluminum pan. Were going to fill it with water and use it to add moisture to our grilling environment, in turn helping to regulate the temperature. More on this in a moment.

    Make sure your BBQs grates and drum are both thoroughly clean before cooking. There are a lot of benefits to having a spotless BBQ, so if your grill is dirty then Id put aside half an hour to really clean it.

    Once clean, remove the cooking grate and light the charcoal. There are a few methods to this, so if youre not sure how to do this then take a look at my guide on how to light a charcoal grill.

    Youll need enough charcoal to cover half the grate area, and also enough to create 2-3 layers of charcoal.

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    What Charcoal Grill Do I Need For Ribs

    First, you need to make sure you have the right equipment. You don’t need anything fancy, but you will need a full-size charcoal grill like this Weber Kettle Grill. The 22″ grate is needed to provide the lengthy ribs some space away from the hot coals.

    I also recommend picking up a chimney starter while you are at it. It is the easiest way to light charcoal and get a measured amount, for consistent grilling every time.

    Video #: Smoking Ribs With A Charcoal Basket And Rib Rack

    Instead of just dumping the charcoal on one side of the grill he is using a charcoal basket to keep the charcoal neatly organized. A charcoal basket does not hold enough charcoal to last the entire cook so you will need to add more fuel every couple of hours.

    He is also using a rib rack in the video which allows him to cook three slabs of ribs at once. You can cook up to four slabs at once with the rib rack he is using.

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    What Youll Need For This Recipe

    • At least 9 pounds Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes
    • 4 small chunks smoke wood
    • 3 slabs pork loin back ribsas close to 2 pounds each as possible
    • Various herbs/spices for rubsee ingredients list below
    • Yellow mustard
    • Apple juice in spray bottle for basting
    • KC Masterpiece Original Flavor barbecue sauce
    • Honey

    Note: This recipe may not turn out well if you do not use Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes and a Weber Chimney Starter for measuring the amount of charcoal used. The amount of charcoal used in this recipe is overkill, but it ensures that no matter what the conditions, your WSM wont run out of fuel before the ribs are cooked. You can experiment with using less fuel the next time you cook this recipe.

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