What Our Readers Are Saying
If you dont believe that our recipe helps you achieve perfect oven baked ribs at home, take a look at what our readers are saying about the recipe! More reviews are in the comments section below.
These are the best ribs Ive ever made! Nick
My first time making ribs and it couldnt have been easier or tastier. M.B.
This is the best recipe for ribs that I have found. It is so easy and absolutely delicious! Jackie
Quite literally fall off the bone goodness. Jessica
OMG! These ribs are incredible!!! Lupita
How To Season Ribs
Seasoning is the fun part of smoking ribs by choosing or creating a rib rub, you truly are making them your own.
Whether you use a dry rub or wet rub method you’ll need to choose a rib rub first.
… but it’s your call. The only word of caution: Don’t overdo it with any of these ingredients, or you could overpower the rest of the flavors.
How Long To Grill The Ribs
The length of time ribs should use in a grill varies depending on the grill and type of ribs. Therefore, there is no exact time for grilling a rack of ribs.
However, if you follow the standard grill temperature range, the estimated cooking time for medium-sized meat should be about 3 hours. For smaller-sized ribs, the estimated time to get it cooked is about two hours. A thick slab of ribs requires a cooking time of about 4 hours while you would need to add about 30 minutes to an hour to the cooking time for a thick slab with a vertical rack.
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How Long To Grill Ribs On A Charcoal Grill
Cooking time depends on grill temperature. The idea is to keep the grill at a consistent temperature of around 225 °F .
Low and slow is the name of the game and why you need to give yourself plenty of prep time.
At 225 °F , its going to take at least 5 hours, possibly just over 6 to cook them.
Although we want the internal temperature of ribs to be 190 °F minimum, it doesnt mean theyre ready. It takes time to break down the connective tissues that make them tender, and sometimes we need to take them and slowly up to as high as 205 °F
The basic timeline looks like this:
- 3 hours of smoking unwrapped
- 2 hours of cooking wrapped in foil
- 1 hour of cooking unwrapped at a higher temperature to finish
Your ribs may take more or less time depending on your grill. Remember to occasionally rotate them, check fire, top up your choice of smoking wood for your ribs, and if used your water pan every 30 minutes.
Test for doneness, not time or temp, and you should be ready to serve perfect ribs. Ill talk about doneness in a moment.
Is There A Safe Temperature For Reheated Ribs
Anyone who cooks meat is aware that there are minimum temperatures different kinds of meat need to reach for them to be safe to eat. But surely reheated meat doesnt have to be so hot, because it has already been cooked, right?
The USDA wants you to cook your beef and pork to at least 145F. No problem, in fact you will probably cook your ribs even hotter than that, most likely around 160F. That kills all the bacteria, making them safe to eat. Once dead, they stay dead. There will be no microscopic zombie apocalypse.
Problem is, new bacteria can find its way to your meat after you cook it, but before it gets to a frozen or refrigerated state. This happens as the meat cools down gradually after cooking.
If you put your meat away in the fridge right after cooking, and sealed it up nicely, you could pull it out and eat it cold if you want. Certainly some folks enjoy cold ribs, though I personally dont get it.
However, if youre not so sure about when you put the leftovers away , youd be better off getting them right back up to the safe zone before you eat. I feel its important to reiterate here that you cant leave your cooked meat out longer than 2 hours.
All in all, its up to you, but I recommend reheating to a minimum of 145F. Not only is it going to be safe, itll be a closer approximation of the original experience.
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Understanding The Difference Between Ready And Done
When it comes to good pork ribs there is ready and done. Just because theyre cooked doesnt mean they are at their best for eating.
Ready means that the internal temperature of the meat is a minimum of 145 °F , they are cooked and the meat is safe to eat, but you probably wont like it. The meat will be very tough.
Done means the ribs have had a chance to gain a higher temperature of around 190 °F to 205 °F . Getting to this temp melts the fat and collagens that makes them tough, and instead makes them moist, tender and delicious.
Cook Ribs Low And Slow
When you cook ribs in a smoker, they sit for a long period of time at a low temperature. To mimic this process, you will need to set the grill to a low temperature and cook your ribs for several hours. You want the inside of your grill to hold a temperature around 225 F/110 C for the entire cooking time, which means you need to check on the grill to make sure the temperature is maintained. While you’re checking the temp, take a look at the ribs it is important to keep a close eye on your ribs because once the surface of the meat starts to burn there’s no going back.
If you are using wood chips, you will probably have to add more wood every hour. This is particularly important for the first 2 hours. Your ribs will be done when they become tender and the meat is loose around the bones, which can be 4 to 5 hours.
To speed up the process or to increase the tenderness of the ribs, you can pre-cook the rack. Ribs cooked on a barbecue smoker at a low temperature for several hours will be very tender. However, ribs cooked on a grill, especially a gas grill, will not be as tender, even when cooked indirectly. You can precook by either boiling the ribs for about 30 minutes or by placing them in a slow cooker. Once you are ready to grill, season the ribs and cook them indirectly until done. The disadvantage of this is that you can literally boil out the flavor of the meat and the ribs will not absorb the flavor of the smoke as well.
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To Sauce Or Not To Sauce
Barbecue sauce is complicated. People who love true barbecue think that well-prepared meats dont need any sauce at all. People from different regions have different ideas about what sauce should be made of. I like sauce as an accompaniment. But you have to be careful about sauce inside the grill, because most sauces contain sugar and that will burn. If you love a saucy rib, buy a good quality bottle of the stuff or make your own, then brush it on your rack in the last 20 minutes of cooking. Or just serve it on the side!
How To Cook Ribs On The Grill
So youre ready to take the dive into the world of cooking ribs on the grill? I promise its easy and youll be obsessed with the finished product. Youll need about 15 minutes of prep time and an hour of cooking time. So, make sure you account for that when planning out your meal!
Youll want your grill preheating to low heat for about 15 minutes before youre ready to throw the ribs on. I use a propane grill, so 15 minutes is all I need. If youre using a charcoal grill, youll need more time for it to preheat, so plan accordingly.
You also dont want to put ribs on the grill that just came out of the fridge, or else the meat might get shocked. So, while your grill is heating up, let the ribs rest on the counter for about 15 minutes.
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Storing Ribs In The Refrigerator
If you plan on eating your leftover ribs within a few days, by all means, put them in the refrigerator. Make sure your fridge is no warmer than 40F, the maximum safe temperature for storing meat. Personally, I keep mine at 38F so theres never any doubt.
The key is sealing your ribs tightly to keep out air and trap moisture on the inside. If you have a plastic container that seals tightly, that should do, as will a zipper-style plastic bag. Plastic wrap wrapped tightly with an outer layer of aluminum foil will also do the trick.
If you have a vacuum sealer, thats the best solution, because its guaranteed to be airtight. As an added bonus, its ready for sous vide right out of the fridge!
To add extra flavor and moisture, seal your ribs away with barbecue sauce, the original drippings or some other flavor-enhancing fluid.
How Low Should You Go
Food science god Harold McGee is an advocate of the long, slow cooking of ribs, baking them for 68 hours at an oven temperature of between 95 and 80C “the lower the meat’s temperature, the less moisture it loses,” he says in his Curious Cook column in the New York Times, “but the longer its connective tissue takes to dissolve, too”. Ribs cooked at 60C will thus be very juicy, but, on the flip side, will take “several days” to become tender so his method is a compromise between texture and time.
Sadly my oven won’t go low enough to give his recipe a try, but Jamie Oliver’s “truly incredible” 5-star pork ribs, from Jamie’s America, adopt a similar, if slightly faster approach, by cooking the ribs for 4¼ hours at 135C. As a contrast, I follow them up with Nigella’s Finger Lickin’ Ribs, from her book Feast, a deliberately quick recipe designed, apparently, for eating “oozy and sticky” in bed, which cooks at 200C for an hour. Jamie’s ribs are certainly far more succulent, but Nigella’s nicely caramelised, slightly crisp top is undeniably seductive.
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Treat The Meat To A Spice Rub
Taste of Home
Trust us: You want to add the spice rub. Like making the marinade, its simple to prep, just tossing some ingredients together in a bowl. Here, we use the remaining ½ cup sugar, plus salt and seasonings.
Take the ribs out of the fridge. Drain and discard the marinade from the 13×9. Pat the ribs dry . Rub the spice mixture over all sides of the ribs, patting with your fingertips to encourage it to adhere.
Test Kitchen Tip: When it comes to ribs, some people only use a marinade. Some people only use spice rub. We like to do both! Marinading adds layers of flavor that penetrate deep into the meat, while the spice rub adds flavor to the surface of the meat. When the grill sears the ribs, the spicy, crackling exterior of the meat makes a delicious contrast to the tender, succulent meat inside.
How To Remove The Membrane/skin Off Baby Back Ribs
This is a controversial and personal step when cooking ribs. I grew up eating ribs with the skin left on and only started removing them about 10 years ago advice from a chef. Personally, I love the chewiness of the membrane when left on, BUT, I also love the ease of eating ribs with it removed.
Go with what YOU love!
- Turn ribs over with bone/rack-side facing up. Carefully slide a blunt knife under the membrane at one end of the rack.
- Lift to loosen the membrane off of the bone.
- Using a sheet of paper towel to hold onto the membrane, peel it off the back of the ribs.
- It should come off in one piece.
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Grilling Ribs: Dos And Donts
When youre ready to barbecue the ribs, place the rack meat side down over direct heat for 10 to 15 minutes, then continue to cook over low, indirect heat in a smoker, if you have one for anywhere from another hour to as many as eight hours, depending on the size of the ribs and what your specific recipe calls for. Barbecue aficionados tend to agree that low and slow is the way to go with ribs, but they have little consensus about just how low and how slow, so play around with your grill this summer.
Tips To Remember About Your Ribs
Youve probably heard this before, but ribs should not fall off the bone.
When perfectly grilled, they should be tender and moist. You should be able to cleanly bite the meat, or pull it from the bone with your fingers, but the meat should not just fall off. When you take a bite, some meat should stay on the bone.
Ribs that fall off the bone are an indication that theyve been boiled and steamed, or way overcooked, leaving them with a mushy, flavorless texture.
Here are more pointers to make the best ribs:
- Buy Baby Backs For the novice chef, try baby backs first. They are fast and easy to cook, tender and well-marbled.
- Remove the Membrane The membrane is tough and prevents smoke and rubs from seasoning your meat.
- Maintain consistent temperature Temperature is very important and worth mentioning again. For smoking, stabilize the temperature between 225 °F to 250 °F and for finishing, browning and sealing in the sauce glaze increase it between 325 °F to 350 °F
- Add time for sauce Allow at least 30 minutes near the end of your cooking time. Start by brushing on the barbecue sauce then closing the lid to let the sauce dry. Re-apply every 5 to 8 minutes until you build up that beautiful shiny glaze that is the signature of a perfect rib.
You cant hurry ribs no matter how hungry you are. Only the ribs can tell you when theyre done. Be patient and use one of the methods weve shared above. Theyll be worth the wait.
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Leftover Leftovers: Can I Reheat Ribs A Second Time
Weve all done it, cooked way more food than we actually needed for the event or meal. Thats most likely why youre reading this article in the first place. Now that weve gone over how to store and reheat your leftover ribs, there still remains one last possibility to cover: putting your uneaten leftovers away for a second time.
Sometimes it happens that even after enjoying some leftover ribs, you STILL have leftovers. Are they only fit for compost, or can they be put away a second time and enjoyed for a third?
There are two answers to this question: yes, and no. If you thaw your leftovers in the fridge and then choose to cook only a portion, you can safely return the balance to the freezer for later use because the ribs never had the chance to get back into the over 40F danger zone.
If, however, you thawed and reheated everything, but still had leftovers, you could theoretically refreeze the remaining portion. You will have a greater risk of contamination, however, because of the additional time spent between 40F and 140F.
Also worth considering is what all these freezing, thawing, and reheating does to the quality of the meat. Maybe youre more practical than fussy and you just want to save your food. In that case, go ahead and put em back on ice.
Sous Vide The Best Way To Reheat Any Ribs
If youre not familiar with the term, let me acquaint you. Sous vide is a cooking technique that professional chefs have been using for ages, but never bothered to share with the rest of us. Its pretty simple you use hot water to cook food.
The temperature of water in a pot on a stove is pretty easy to control. You know it boils at 212F , so you know its not going to get any hotter than that. By immersing meat in a seal bag in the water, you get even, all-over cooking at temperatures that wont burn the meat, no matter how long you cook. You just have to wait for the meat to be done to your liking.
You can use this same technique to reheat ribs without exposing them to heated elements or fire, which can dry out your ribs if youre not careful.
Heres a great video showing how its done, and what the results can be:
What you want to do is get your water up to a temperature a bit below the original cooking temperature.
So, if you did your ribs to 160F, heat the water to about 155F and hold it there. If you vacuum sealed your ribs before putting them away, you can toss the package right in the water. If you didnt, seal them up in a watertight, sealable plastic bag before putting in the water.
You may need up to an hour to reheat them in this way, but the results are worth it. You wont lose any moisture at all. If you need more time, set the water to a lower temperature and leave them for 2 or 3 hours, if you like.
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