How to Cook Ribs to Perfection

How to Cook Ribs to Perfection



Summer is coming, and that means one thing: back-yard or tailgate parties where ribs are on the menu. You might be asking, "How do I cook ribs?" Proper cooking takes a little preparation but delivers a big payoff. Read on for our guide to grilling the perfect rack of ribs.

Choosing the right ribs

Look for fresh ribs with an even layer of meat across the bones and a balanced meat-to-fat ratio. Pork ribs are the most popular for grilling, and there are different types with their own characteristics.

Baby back pork ribs, which come from the top of the animal, are what you'll normally see in mouthwatering pictures of a rack of ribs. Spare ribs, which come from the ends of baby back ribs, offer a meatier, fattier option, which you can also trim down to create St. Louis-style ribs.

Preparing your ribs for cooking

After finding the perfect set of ribs, a little preparation will help to make them shine. Pat them dry with paper towel and trip any excess fat with a kitchen knife. If dealing with a rack of ribs, remove the membrane from the back. Slip a dull butter knife under it to separate it and them lift the rest off with a paper towel.

Seasoning is an important part of your rib cooking process. A dry rub can bring out the flavor of your ribs while creating a mouth-watering crust that seals in the meat's juices. This Grilled Applewood Baby Back Ribs recipe uses our McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub to bring out notes of applewood smoke without putting wood chips in your BBQ.


How do you cook BBQ ribs?

Low and slow cooking is a surefire way to produce a juicy set of ribs that is fall-off-the-bone tender. You can do it in the oven or in the BBQ. The advantage of the latter is that using charcoal will give you that authentic BBQ flavor.

For an example of tasty low-and-slow grilling, check out this Slow & Low Memphis Pit BBQ Ribs recipe. It uses baby back ribs along with McCormick Grill Mates Slow & Low Memphis Pit BBQ Rub, which includes brown sugar, onion and spices to create a sweet, succulent flavor explosion.


How to make BBQ sauce for ribs

Instead of rubbing the ribs you can use a sauce to add flavor and texture at the last minute. This BBQ Pork Ribs recipe makes a sauce from McCormick Grill Mates Mesquite Marinade mixed with French's Tomato Ketchup that creates a wonderful smoky sweetness. The key with sauces is to baste the ribs towards the very end of the cook. This creates an irresistibly sticky crust that will have you licking your fingers long after the ribs are done.


How to cook ribs in the oven

Cooking in the oven offers more temperature control, but moisture retention is key. One way to keep ribs moist while cooking them in the oven is to spritz them regularly. Add flavor during this process by using a mixture such as apple juice and cider vinegar.

You can also wrap the ribs tightly in foil with some liquid, like apple juice, during a low-and-slow cook, either on the BBQ or in the oven. Our Grilled Slow-Cooked BBQ Ribs recipe steams the ribs in foil with beer for most of the cook. You can then brush them with sauce to caramelize at the end.


Whether you're cooking in the oven or on the BBQ, don't forget to let your ribs rest after the cook. This gives the meat the chance to relax, redistributing its juices.

These cooking tips and grill recipes will help you create the perfect set of finger-licking ribs for your family and friends. A long, hot summer offers plenty of opportunities to try all of our grilling techniques for those long, lazy get-togethers.

Other rib recipes

Ready for some other rib recipes? Check out these tasty options:

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