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Recipe File

Barbecue Pork Ribs (Baby Back or Spare)

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I've been planning on writing down my recipe for barbecue pork ribs for a couple years now. I kept avoiding it to prevent runaway discussions on whether or not this is the best way or the correct way to barbecue ribs. I finally decided to just sit down and write it. This is how I do my ribs, barbecue style. They come out delicious, tender and juicy, and full of smoky flavor.

The texture of the ribs after cooking is not "falling apart". The meat doesn't fall off the bone when you prod it with a fork. (For that, you'll want to take a look at Recipe File: Oven Baked Spare Ribs which will produce meat and cartilage that is just completely falling apart.) However, the ribs will be tender enough that it'll come off the bone easily when you're eating it, and the texture will provide just enough chew to be satisfying. I think that's the best texture for ribs (even though sometimes I do like the completely falling apart texture as well - that's why I have more than one recipe for making ribs!).

This recipe is more of a method than a firm step-by-step because there's a lot of flexibility when it comes to barbecuing ribs. I usually smoke at least two racks of ribs (a rack is one side of the hog - one continuous cut of meat that includes 8 to 15 ribs depending on your butcher and the style of cut) at a time but cooking one rack is pretty much the same exact recipe - cooking times don't change only the amount of spice rub you use up.

Before we start, you'll need pork ribs. Baby back ribs come from the loin of the hog and the bones are generally smaller and the flesh is leaner and meatier than spare ribs which come from the side and belly. Because of the leanness of baby back ribs, the cooking time is less (about 1-1/2 hour compared to 2-1/2 hour) than that of spare ribs. In the photographs for this recipe, I prepared baby back ribs, but I'll mention the differences between preparation for baby back and spare ribs in the text.

You'll also need a dry rub. I like using the rub from my Grilled Pork Chops recipe. In fact, I usually prepare a large quantity of the rub and put them into jars so I can use them whenever I need it. Alternatively, you can use a store bought spice rub like those found at Rod's Rub.

For glazing, a barbecue sauce is needed. My Slow Simmered Spicy Barbecue Sauce is a crowd pleaser, but I like trying out other people's sauces and playing with a variety of store bought sauces as well.

Wood chips (hickory or mesquite both work really well) are also needed. Part of what makes barbecue ribs authentic is the taste of smoke permeating the meat. Since the ribs cook in just a couple hours, the smokiness will be fairly mild.

Let's begin.

The night before you plan on barbecuing, prepare your pork ribs. Working with one rack at a time, lay the rack on a large cutting board. You'll want to trim off any excess meat because they won't cook at the same rate as the rib meat. Usually baby back ribs don't come with any extra flaps of meat, but spare ribs, St. Louis style and country style ribs often do. Cut them off and save them for a stir fry or other pork dish.

Flip the rack over so the meaty side is face down. There is a thin membrane on this side that goes over all the bones. Removing this membrane is optional, but generally a good idea. It can become a very tough sheet that tastes and feels like you're chewing on plastic if you cook it with the ribs. To remove it, just thrust a blunt object (like the blunt tip of a thermometer) in between the membrane and the bones as shown in the photo. Wiggling your tool around a little should give you enough room to get a finger beneath the membrane.

Once you've got a grip on the membrane, pull it away from the back of the ribs. You'll need to use some force, but if you're smooth about it, the membrane should come away as one piece. Using a paper towel can help you grip the membrane better if your fingers keep slipping.

Cover both sides of the rack with a generous portion of spice rub. I generally use about 1/2 cup of rub per rack of ribs. Make sure you use your hands to rub the mixture into the ribs. The moisture from the pork should be enough to make the rub stick and coat easily.

After both sides have been rubbed with the spice rub, place the rack onto a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. The foil should be large enough to wrap the entire rack in it (just image you're going to gift wrap the ribs).

Fold the foil over the ribs and fold the aluminum foil onto itself to seal just like you would if you were preparing to freeze it. (For photographs explaining the folding and crimping technique please refer to Kitchen Notes: Freezing Meats.)

Do the same steps (removing excess meat, removing the membrane, spice rub, and wrapping in foil) for each of the other racks of ribs that you might be preparing. Put them onto a sheet pan and slip it into the refrigerator so the rub can do its thing. We'll want to leave the ribs in the fridge for at least 10-12 hours. The salt and sugar in the rub should draw out some moisture from the ribs which serves two purposes. First, it firms up the flesh a little bit, and, second, helps provide moisture to the rub which turns it into a paste and then a liquid. The liquidly rub penetrates into the meat during the next several hours, so it's important to wait before cooking the ribs.

About an hour before you plan on cooking, soak 2 cups of wood chips in water for that hour.

Prepare a grill for indirect heat. For a charcoal grill, start a fire and move the coals to one side, leaving the other side without coals. For a gas grill, turn on the burners only on one side. (If your grill doesn't have burners on just one side, then I suggest you rig up something so your ribs will be much higher up and away from the flames than they normally would be.) You'll also need a rib rack (a metal device that looks like a desk top filing rack - not to be confused with a rack of ribs which is the cut of meat that a rib rack is designed to help you cook). If you don't have a rib rack or don't want to buy one, then just use a V-rack for roasting chickens and turkeys. Flip it over so the point of the V is facing up and stick it on the grill. That's how I do it. Place the rack on the side of the grill without direct heat.

Remove the wood chips from the water. If you've got a charcoal fire going, put the wood chips directly onto the coals where they should begin to smolder. If you're using a gas grill, place the wood chips into a smoker box (or an aluminum foil sheet shaped into a box with holes punched in the top like the one in the picture) and put it on the side where the flames are on. Turn the fire up until the chips begin to smoke and then turn the heat down to low.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and unwrap them. If the racks are too long to fit on the rib rack on your grill, then you might have to cut them in half. Insert the racks or half racks into the rib rack so they are standing up. Position them so they are as far away from the heat source as possible. Close the lid.

Every twenty minutes, open the lid and rotate the ribs. Move each rack closer to the heat source, then move the rack closest to the heat source to the position farthest from the heat.

After about 1-1/2 hours for baby back ribs or 2-1/2 hours for spare ribs, the meat should have shrunk away from the bone substantially. The temperature of the rib meat should be over 180°F which means much of the collagen in the meat has probably converted to juicy and unctuous gelatin (the reason we love ribs).

At this point, pull the racks off the grill and clear off the smoker box and rib rack. Redistribute the heat so it is even throughout the grill (for gas grills, use medium heat). Place the racks of ribs back onto the grill and brush on your favorite barbecue sauce. Every three minutes, flip the racks and brush more sauce on. Repeat until you're tired, have run out of sauce, or can't wait any longer.

Cut the ribs apart to serve.

That's it. Follow these steps correctly and you should have some great barbecue ribs.

Barbecue Pork Ribs
Prepare grill for indirect low heatPrepare grill for direct medium heat
2 racks of baby back or spare ribsremove membranerubrefrigerate 12 hourssmoke for 1-1/2 hours (baby back) to 2-1/2 hours (spare) rotating every 20 minutesglaze over medium heat for 3 min. each side repeating until sauce is consumed or chef is tired
1 cup spice rub
2 cups wood chipssoak in water 1 hourheat on grill until smoking
1 cup barbecue sauce

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Written by Michael Chu
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49 comments on Barbecue Pork Ribs (Baby Back or Spare):(Post a comment)

On May 30, 2008 at 09:22 PM, Michael Chu said...
In case anyone is interested, I had posted a "behind the scenes" photo of one of the photography setups for this recipe on my blog.

On May 31, 2008 at 10:52 AM, Franker (guest) said...
Subject: Cooking temp
What temp do you try to keep your smoker at for this?
225? 230?

On May 31, 2008 at 02:42 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I've been using variations on this technique for quite some time: ... rather than use indirect heat, I just use fewer coals. This has proven tricky -- if I use too many coals, the ribs will char a bit early on if I'm not aggressive at spraying out flare ups; and if I use too few coals, the fire doesn't last quite long enough. I'd considered indirect heat but didn't think there was enough space to do two racks at once on my Weber (and really, if you're cooking for 3 hours, you gotta do more than one rack!) -- the "rib rack" suggestion solves that problem neatly.

On May 31, 2008 at 03:27 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Cooking temp
Franker wrote:
What temp do you try to keep your smoker at for this?
225? 230?

I have no idea. I don't have a smoker right now and the thermometer on my grill is a joke.

On May 31, 2008 at 03:41 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Excellent ribs
I sent a link to your article to my husband, and now feel guilty because he acted on it straight away with excellent results! Thanks very much!

On June 01, 2008 at 02:01 AM, dmlamb (guest) said...
What's the recipe for the spice rub you made for the ribs?

On June 01, 2008 at 02:50 AM, Michael Chu said...
dmlamb wrote:
What's the recipe for the spice rub you made for the ribs?

I linked to it within the article. Here is the link again:
Recipe File: Grilled Pork Chops

The spice rub is the first three photos of that recipe and the first recipe summary table at the bottom.

On June 03, 2008 at 07:12 PM, arbeck said...
How hot is your grill when you do this? My BBQ ribs would never be done in that short of time. For baby backs I do a 2-1-1 method. Two hours of smoking, then one hour in foil and another hour out. With spare ribs I do a 2-2-1 method. I use a vertical smoker that is always between 240 and 275 degrees.

On June 03, 2008 at 09:43 PM, Michael Chu said...
The best I can estimate is that the grill is about 250-300F on the side where the ribs are arranged.

On June 06, 2008 at 10:52 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I'm excited to say I just found this site and I love it! the step by step directions along with the pictures are perfect. (especially the pictures!!) I'm really glad I found your site. Do you ever list the nutritional information, such as calories, carbs, or fat? Thanks, Diane

On June 10, 2008 at 01:38 AM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
Do you ever list the nutritional information, such as calories, carbs, or fat?

I've considered it, but in the ended decided not to due to technical reasons (i.e. laziness). Maybe sometime in the future when I'm not working full time and can spend the time I'd like to spend on this website.

On June 20, 2008 at 10:08 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Here's my offering of a firm favorite here.

Pork Spare Ribs, Ok the BBQ tag in this instance relates to the use
of BBQ sauce when initially marinated for an hour. Chinese Recipe
from a book that has been in the Family bookcase since i can remember.
Of course these must have my Fried Rice to go with them, lol

On June 27, 2008 at 05:19 PM, Long retired PE (guest) said...
I,too, just recently found this site and find it is very informative. Who (or is it whom) ever came up with it deserves much credit and many thanks. I'm doing 2 racks of ribs as we speak.

Long Retired PE

On July 03, 2008 at 12:48 PM, DocChuck (guest) said...
Subject: Leave it to an engineer ...
. . . their bridges may sometimes fail, but their ribs are always infallible! LOL

Just kidding (I earned my right to kid fellow engineers over 45 years ago).

Seriously, your method for cooking ribs is impeccable, and your photography ain't none too shabby.

Thanks for the great post.

On July 08, 2008 at 03:05 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I smoke a variety of meats on a regular basis and noticed a few things. There's no smoke ring on the ribs. Did you get a good smokey taste Michael? A smoke ring forms when temps. are below 140°. So the longer the meat is under that temp., the stronger the smoke ring (when I compete or want to impress my guests with a nice smoke ring, I always throw the food in the smoker straight from the refrigerator). Since the ribs cooked in about an hour and a half, your temps. were definitely over 300° (my bet would be close to 350°). When using wood chips (which is rare, I use wood chunks mostly), I always foil and poke holes in the foil (and throw the foil ball over charcoal or lump wood). That way you don't get a lot of smoke in the beginning but rather a stream of smoke throughout the cook. A lot of the smoke is wasted when it lights up in the beginning. Instead of using your typical hickory or mesquite chips, try using fruit woods. Apple works wonders with pork and gives off a light smokey taste. All in all, the ribs look great.


On July 09, 2008 at 01:14 AM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
I smoke a variety of meats on a regular basis and noticed a few things. There's no smoke ring on the ribs.

Thanks Erik. There was actually a 1-2 mm light pink smoke ring on the ribs and plenty of smokiness (for my taste buds). The trouble with smoking on a grill is that a minimum amount of heat must be applied to the side with the wood for it to smoke and this heat carries over to the cooking side, so unfortunately, I can't get the temperature much lower in this particular setup and still have smoke.

On July 13, 2008 at 08:31 PM, Debi (guest) said...
Subject: BBQ Ribs
I was looking for a great oven baked rib recipe when I came across your web site. I love the sounds delightful. I want to cook this for my family while on vacation. However, there is no grill at the condo that we rented and so I would need to cook the ribs in the oven. We are leaving on 7/19. I am cooking for 12 hearty eaters. Would you recommend this for the oven and if so, what adjustments would you make?

Thanks a lot.

On July 14, 2008 at 03:30 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: BBQ Ribs
Debi wrote:
Would you recommend this for the oven and if so, what adjustments would you make?

You don't want to smoke anything indoors. I recommend trying this recipe for oven baked spare ribs. Reduce the time a bit (maybe an hour) for baby back ribs.

On July 16, 2008 at 10:54 PM, Bobboblaw (guest) said...
Subject: The Membrane
I hate the membrane. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but after years of making ribs I always have trouble removing it. If the method he describes does not work for you, or if it starts peeling off unevenly try using some needle-nosed pliers. I know it feels odd using a tool like that on something you are eating, but think about it, it makes sense. You're already spending hours of time to cook meat on a bone only to gnaw it off later, the opportunity to use something out of your toolbox to expedite the process and improve the end result will make you feel manlier than ever.

On July 17, 2008 at 03:41 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: The Membrane
Bobboblaw wrote:
If the method he describes does not work for you, or if it starts peeling off unevenly try using some needle-nosed pliers.

You should have a pair of needle nose pliers in the kitchen as part of your kit anyway. It helps with not only membrane removal, but also for extracting bones from salmon fillets.

On July 24, 2008 at 04:21 PM, Jim-FL (guest) said...
Subject: Smoke Ring
Given that water is a byproduct of propane combustion and the target temperature for BBQ is just above the boiling point for water, could the steam produced by combustion be condensing and pulling smoke out of the air, thus causing the smaller smoke ring?

On July 29, 2008 at 01:48 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Jim (the post above), there are many water smokers out in the market that use water has a heat sink (some people think water is used to keep the meat moist, but I say otherwise [you can easily over boil chicken into something dry and gnarly]) so your theory can not be true. When doing small amounts of food (maybe a rack or 2 of babybacks or st. louis style ribs), I too, add water to my smoker in order to keep the temps. at a steady 225° (at the grate). Never once have I had an issue with lack of a smoke ring.

One thing I forgot to mention above is that I always rub pork right before throwing it on the smoker. I first salt the meat, wait about 15 minutes and then use a dry rub (the moisture that comes from salting the pork acts as a glue to help adhere the rub to the meat). If you let salt sit on pork for over a few hours (such as what Michael recommends above in his recipe), you risk the meat having a "hammy taste."


On July 30, 2008 at 10:30 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I do my ribs on a triple burner gas grill, utilizing one burner to provide the heat. As far as wood chips go, i take the flange above the burner, turn it over to create a metal "pan" and place my dry chips on it.

This flange heats up nicely and, since I have removed the portion of the grate that is above the burner, I can easily add more chips as needed when I rotate my ribs.

I use a drip pan under the ribs filled with apple juice, or wine, or whatever I feel like, and I spray my ribs about every half hour with an apple cider/apple vinegar mix.

I bought an inexpensive probe thermometer, skewer a potato with it, and place it where the ribs are to get a good air temperature reading right where the ribs are. mine holds a temp at the lowest flame setting of 217 degrees during an Arizona Summer. (hell I am already halfway there before I start....)

All in all I have been pretty satisfied with my ribs, but one day I have to make that leap and actually invest in a real smoker, probably a Weber Smoky Mountain (WSM) to start.

One more thing, I rub a small amount of mustard on my ribs before applying the rub to act as a glue. I do not think it affects the taste, and have seen this done at many BBQ competitions.

Nice job, Michael. keep the posts coming!


On November 14, 2008 at 05:41 PM, jlewis30 (guest) said...
Subject: sweating and resting the meat
To get a really great tender texture, wrap the finished hot ribs in foil and put them in a paper bag, fold the bag so that the ribs are all snug (I duct tape it all together, but I am wacky like that). Let them rest and sweat for an hour or so. This step is from the Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes (or more best recipes or new best recipies, whatever) and I find it works marvelously no matter how else I change the steps (like oven or grill).

On June 26, 2009 at 02:52 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Baking them the night before
I am having a BBQ on July 4th and plan on serving spare ribs. I've used your oven recipe, throwing them on the grill just before serving, and they've turned out perfect. I am wondering if I can bake the ribs the day before, refrigerate them, then throw them on the grill to heat them up before serving. Do you think the texture or flavor would be compromised?

There are a lot of people coming and I would just like to do as many things as possible ahead of time. Thank you so much for your help!

On June 26, 2009 at 03:11 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Baking them the night before
Guest wrote:
I am having a BBQ on July 4th and plan on serving spare ribs. I've used your oven recipe, throwing them on the grill just before serving, and they've turned out perfect. I am wondering if I can bake the ribs the day before, refrigerate them, then throw them on the grill to heat them up before serving. Do you think the texture or flavor would be compromised?

The flavor and texture should be fine. I'd mostly be concerned about serving ribs that might have a cold piece of bone in it. This all depends on how long you plan on reheating over the grill. If you do a short grill time, then you might consider wrapping the ribs up in foil and setting them in the oven on the lowest temperature (or on the grill over indirect heat) for a thirty minutes to an hour to heat through (depending on how you stacked the ribs when you wrapped them up).

On July 14, 2009 at 02:08 PM, (guest) said...
Subject: griilled ribs
this recipe was great!!! but if you are in a hurry and have to work than this may help. Take frozen ribs out and lace them in roasting pan or oven. Cover with beer add 2 tbls liquid smoke per rack. Add meat tenderizer and seasoning. Cook for four hours then place on grill. When you flip ribs add bbq sauce and grill to desired texture. Ribs will literally fall of the bone

On July 14, 2009 at 03:45 PM, Dilbert said...
to an adroit & practiced rib griller, my "method" is pure heresy.
okay, I accept that - but "my way" works for me - you get to be your own grilling critic.

(note: the thread addresses baby back ribs and spare ribs - I don't do baby backs. not enough meat on the bones to make it worth the time, but that's just me. I look for the country style ribs - loosely spare ribs with the extra bit on top....)

(second note: we prefer "wet ribs" - if you're a dry rib, no compromises, exit thread now.)

ribs, comma biggies/thickies. my basic rub is kosher salt/pepper/garlic powder/onion powder/and I threaten the mix with cayenne pepper for zing. I'm not a burn off yo' lips guy, so I go light on the heat.

remove silver skin; I leave all the fat on the ribs - trim not, tastier more.

sprinkle ribs liberally and "rub in" - yeah, the rub in bit makes a difference....a thirty second step not to be omitted.

wrap the ribs in heavy duty aluminum foil - interior rib side _up_. that's a factor because the rub/seasonings needs to puddle around the bits you eat.

bake in an oven at 300'F for 2.5 hours in a pan but on a rack so heat gets to all sides/surfaces.

at the end of the bake cycle, the meat is cooked - to the point of falling off the bone. further handling requires wide implements - be prepared - picking up a rack by the <end> / < whatever> produces "pieces of rack"

my "finish" depends on the weather and to what degree of effort I'm prepared to exert.

prelim: remove ribs from oven, open. when unwrapping the rib racks, you'll find a bunch of water/liquid in the bottom of the foil. puncture foil, capture liquid.

mad method #1:

while the rib are resting, jack up the oven to max - 450'F-550'F - depends on what your oven will do. while the oven is heating, put the captured juices in a sauce pan, add a batch of your favorite bbq sauce, mix & reduce.

(note: everyone has their own favorite sauce - use yours for best results)

put the ribs back on the rack, into the hottest oven, continue for 20 minutes or so until the ribs are dry, then swab down the ribs with the sauce. continue to bake/cook for another 20-30 minutes.

mad method #2:
in the last 30 minutes of oven low temp cooking, fire up the grill. I'm a lump charcoal type. get it going hot and wild.

capture, add bbq sauce, reduce as above. put the racks on the grill - 5 minutes +/- per side. slather with sauce, cook 10-15 minutes until the sauce is gumming up crispy.

I've been to St Louis; been the the famous joint in the basement that does only dry ribs (but the beer pitchers were good...) we still prefer wet ones. your preferences and mileage may vary.

On July 19, 2009 at 09:34 AM, JLM said...
Subject: grilled ribs
I just found this site. I did a search for an explanation of the USDA beef ratings and yours was one of the hits. What I've seen so far looks great.

I know people have various different ways of making ribs fall off the bone, and they usually seem to involve slow cooking in the oven or something similar. I've got a way to do it entirely on the grill. So far I've only done this with baby backs.

I prepare the ribs in a similar manner to the way described by Michael Chu. I like to brush them with a little olive oil before I dry rub them, and then I stick them in the fridge overnight (or for a few hours that morning if it is a last minute plan). The dry rubs that I've used have been comercially available ones such as the Durkee or McCormick chicken/rib varieties, and I've been happy with the results. I'll have to try the one from the grilled pork chops recipe next time.

I grill exclusively over charcoal. I make a nice bed of coals and drop the pan as low as it will go to keep as much distance as possible between the meat and the coals. I also close up the vents most of the way to keep the heat low. My grill has a thermometer in the hood, and I try to keep it as low as I can. I cook directly over the coals, but I don't really have any problem with flare ups at these low heats, especially with the lid closed most of the time and the vents closed up most of the way. I think this is a much bigger problem with the constant flame of a gas grill. Cook the ribs on one side for about an hour (less if you can't keep the heat down enough to prevent burning), then do the other side for about an hour.

For this last part I usually try to warm the grill up a bit by raising the coals and/or letting it breathe a little more. I pour some apple juice in an aluminum turkey pan, and I usually cut the ribs in half and stand them up in a row in the pan. Cover up with aluminum foil and put it on the grill for at least an hour- the longer they are in there the more tender they will get. Make sure that the juice doesn't dry up if you leave it on there for a long time. The apple juice steams the meat, and I believe the acids in it help to break down the flesh and make it fall apart. The apple also adds to the flavor. This last part could also be done in an oven.

They are good as-is if you like them dry, or with a bbq sauce of your liking.

On August 02, 2009 at 10:25 PM, ihockeynut (guest) said...
Subject: Ribs for rookies
I used your recipe to make ribs at home for the first time and they worked out great. The family raved about them.

Thanks for sharing your hard work.


On August 13, 2009 at 03:44 PM, ebforest (guest) said...
Subject: Mmm mmm Ribs
I'm on my 2nd go around today using this method for Ribs. I had never BBQ'd ribs before and found this site about a month ago, the ribs turned out pretty tastey (though I didn't love the cut of meat.) So now I'm trying to educate myself about where to find better cuts of meat, really need to find an actual butcher around here, and ready for round two!

Thanks for the very thorough walk through and the pictures are outstanding.


On September 09, 2009 at 10:22 PM, an anonymous reader said...
This is my first time making ribs and I plan on using this recipe this weekend.

I was wondering what temperature the grill should be at? I have a 3 burner gas grill with a built in thermometer. Low, medium, or high heat could also help. I am worried about over/under cooking the ribs.

On September 10, 2009 at 12:44 AM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
This is my first time making ribs and I plan on using this recipe this weekend.

I was wondering what temperature the grill should be at? I have a 3 burner gas grill with a built in thermometer. Low, medium, or high heat could also help. I am worried about over/under cooking the ribs.

Go low. If possible put the ribs over an area where the burner can be turned off and use indirect heat. Don't worry about undercooking - just keep them cooking until the meat shrinks back from the bones and a thermometer registers somewhere around 180F.

On October 24, 2009 at 09:08 PM, eric L (guest) said...
Subject: bbq ribs
Wow, thank you for this. Been a while now, and your still getting comments! Good job!
Anyway, having scorched every attempt at BBQ ribs, I thought I'd try looking up a method on line and found yours! It was an eye opener. I loved the descriptions and pictures, and I just realized it is on a site titled Cooking for Engineers! That explains everything! As a former mechanical engineer, and now working in the field of Metrology, I was thinking to myself as I read it, this is the kind of guy we need working for us writing calibration procedures for ISO certification, haha.

This sounds great, can’t wait to get started, thanks again.

On January 27, 2010 at 05:55 AM, pandy34 (guest) said...
Subject: dry ribs
Hi Everyone,
I just bbq'd babyback ribs in the smoker for the first time. Smoked it 2 hours with rub, then 2 hours in tinfoil at around 225-240F, and 1 hour to dry. It came out a bit dry for my liking. There was still a bit moistness but not enough. What is happening? Are my temperatures too high? The internal temp of the ribs when i measured it last was 197F. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

On January 27, 2010 at 07:28 AM, Dilbert said...
at 197'F the meat was definitely overcooked.

the usual recommended temp for pork is 160'F - but I hardly ever go that high, as I prefer a moister cut.

too high a temp -
too long -

time&temp are related - and certainly smoking in the rub warmed the meat - the 225-240'F temp works for me, I'd check the internal temp at about 45 minutes and see how the ribs are doing.

good luck!

On March 11, 2010 at 02:50 PM, kara123 (guest) said...
Subject: Temp
After you smoke the ribs and put them directly onto the bbq with bbq sauce, do you you increase the temp or leave it the same?

On March 11, 2010 at 03:27 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Temp
kara123 wrote:
After you smoke the ribs and put them directly onto the bbq with bbq sauce, do you you increase the temp or leave it the same?

I usually increase the temperature on the grill to thicken up the glaze quickly.

On August 09, 2010 at 01:41 PM, ted (guest) said...
Thanks for the recipe. I was doing home improvement, forgot about the sauce, and over-reduced it by a bit. I still liked it, although I might tweak it a bit. Maybe a tiny bit more molasses and less tomato or ketchup? I love the spiciness.

The grilling technique worked well for me. Just under 2 hours. Still getting used to my new BBQ. Seemed to cook a little more at the top that the bottom, so I flipped in rib rack halfway through.

My BBQ thermometer said 240 and my surface therm said about 225. Got some smoke from my box for a while but then I left it and I think it stopped. Need to maybe move my smoker box directly over the flame.

On August 30, 2010 at 12:11 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: BBQ Spare Ribs
I have cooked (or tried to,) Spare Ribs many times on the propane Webber BBQ and have had mixed results. Mostly not good, over / under cooked and always charred.
Yesterday I used a slight variation of this recipe and the results were spectacular ! I used a rub (no hot spices, wifee can't handle anything hot) Please no jokes.....;) , then smoked the ribs for about 2 hours with apple / hickory chips mix in an electric smoker 170*(Big Chief) then tented them with aluminum foil on a raised cake cooling rack on a cookie sheet with apple juice underneath, in a 300* oven for 2 1/2 hours. I slathered them with homemade BBQ sauce for the last hour uncovered, which set the sauce to a rich sticky glaze. Removed them and wrapped them tightly in the foil I used to tent them. Let stand for ~45 minutes.
The best ribs I've ever cooked, maybe the best I've ever eaten. Firm Juicy Satisfying Meaty Smokey & Sweet, everything you look for in a good rib.
Superb, simply Superb!

Thank you for sharing your recipe, It's very similar to the one found in "The Best of the Test Kitchens" cook book. Awesome book BTW.


On October 13, 2010 at 05:40 PM, Erani (guest) said...
Subject: BBQ Pork Ribs
For a quick (30 mins) rib, coat well with Worchester sauce, broil till lightly browned in oven at 450F. Cook in pressure cooker for 20 mins.
Coat with BBQ sauce, my favorite is Honey Chipotle, broil at 450F until tinged with dark edges. Eat and enjoy. (Microwaved jacket potatoes to accompany are just fine)

On February 15, 2011 at 06:23 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Anybody old enough to remember what Mom's pork ribs tasted like 50 years ago?
OMG, please go to Their heirloom pig strains go back to the Spanish colonization of America. They're also allowed to forage and pasture. Want to impress? Most of you have never tasted pork like this. Pork used to have a good deal of fat. These ribs do also.
BTW, the pork chops will bring tears to your eyes. No, I don't work there. Anyway here's how I do my ribs as of today:

Bradly Smoker - set to 230 degrees - two hours worth of hickory briquettes. Vent wide open.
Pull ribs from refrigerator and apply your favorite rub. I use Jack's Old South.
Let ribs come to near room temperature with the rub on them. No, I don't take the membrane off the inside.
Put ribs in heated smoker and walk away for 3 1/2 - 4 hours. Yeah, just walk away. There is so much fat on these, that it's much more difficult to dry them out.

If you insist on sauce (I just use it for dippin'), sauce and re-heat in oven broiler or on the grill. Not too hot, you don't want to burn the sugar in the sauce.

Prior to finding this pork, I'd tell myself every time I went for BBQ in a restaurant, "I can make ribs as good as these (maybe)." Now, there's no doubt, I can make ribs better than I've ever tasted in a restaurant. I have to admit, I've never had them in St. Louis or Memphis though.

On May 06, 2011 at 10:21 AM, Kimmer62 (guest) said...
Subject: what if you don't have wood chips for ribs
I don't seem to have any wood chips and would still like to grill the spare ribs I have. Other than not having a smoky flavor, will this work? Should there be any changes to the recipe?

THis looks amazing and can't wait to try it.

On May 06, 2011 at 10:23 AM, Dilbert said...
>>will it work

yes - no problem.

the "flavor" wood chips bring the smoke-taste - but not much heat/etc.

On May 24, 2011 at 03:01 PM, stimmy7 (guest) said...
Subject: Excelent post- a couple of questions/comments?
I see others asked you about temp 1-2yrs ago- have you gotten a thermometer you can trust for the grill yet? The Maverick 2-probe one is excellent- one sensor near the rack for grill temp, one insertion probe for the meat. Also, you mentioned a gas (ugh!) grill not a smoker, have you remedied that? I have both a Char Broil wagon style coal bbq (CB960) and a Bar B Chef offset smoker- no gas here., never have... never will.
Occasionally I still grill ribs over direct or indirect heat, but prefer to smoke cook them low and slow. Sometimes I'll pop them in the smoker for 30 mins and let the smoke "season them", then finish them up with direct heat on the grill. On the grill, I give the racks 15-20 mins. meat side down, then cook them the balance of the way 40-45 mins. bone side down.
I typically try to keep my smoker at 210-230 degrees and ribs take about 3.5-4.5 hours to cook to the point I prefer them at (170-180 internal). Not much difference in time for spareribs or baby back.
You mentioned rub and foil wrap- I prefer plastic cling wrap (the restaurant variety you can get at Smart and Final) then place them in a large plastic bag and refrigerate or place in a cooler with a bag of ice overnight. I've had trouble with the spices reacting with the foil and transferring a metallic taste.
Also noticed you don't add any liquid pre-rub... I use a mixture of tequila and Worcestershire sauce and brush a light coat on, then rub... and my rub is nearly salt free. I also have a sprayer and every 45mins to hour apply a light mist of apple cider to the ribs- and I don't sauce until the last 15-20mins, and only a light coat. If people want sauce, they can add it at the table- ribs are about the meat!
Generally, when I pull the ribs, I place them in a roasting pan and wrap it with foil, then let them sit for 20-30 minutes before cutting them apart. Nice thing about this is it gives me time to grill corn or par-boiled seasoned potato wedges to serve nice and hot... or even half-hearts of romaine for a grilled salad topped with bleu cheese and bacon.
Thanks for putting together an informative and entertaining site!

On June 22, 2012 at 08:49 AM, metalman245 (guest) said...
Subject: Pork Ribs
:) Food for thought I do St Lewis ribs with charcoal and apple wood chips and spray with apple cider every two hours and I cook at 175 to 225 for 12 to 13 hours falling off the bone good

On May 20, 2013 at 01:43 PM, larrysuziem said...
Subject: Oven Roasted BBQ Spareribs - Really the best with a twist.
I read the following tip from an old cookbook from the 1960's, but the recipes date back to the 1600's and earlier. Unfortunately, we are traveling so I don't have access to cookbook or the title, but I do remember the "key" to the most tender and moist "fall off the bone" ribs ever. No matter your preference for sauce - do your own thing.

The "key" to the baking and staying moist: Bake the ribs in slow 225 dg oven on broiler rack pan (that comes with every oven). In bottom of drip pan add an inch of hot water. Bake the ribs for about 4 hours depending on size of rack. Make sure the water remains in the base of the pan. Water should NOT touch the meat baking on the broiler rack pan. This moisture added of course keeps the ribs in a roasting yet moist environment, but never "boiling" it, which should never be done.

Remove ribs with pan from oven. Increase oven heat to 450 or 500 dg.

Pour off the water and dripping collected in bottom of broiler/roaster. This gets rid of most of the fat that's cooked off. Baste ribs well with favorite BBQ sauce - we like Stubbs of Cattelmans which are more natural, less sugars & no High Fructose Corn Syrup or wheat for gluten-free - and delicious. Also we make our own, but Stubbs is easier.

Roast on high (450-500 oven) for 30-40 minutes. Place membrane side up for first 15-20 minutes, meaty side up final 15-20 minutes. Baste when flipping to next side or more often if you prefer.

Remove from oven when crust is to your liking. Let ribs "rest" ten minutes to set the meat before cutting apart. You can add additional heated BBQ sauce to your ribs for serving, of course.

These are the most tender ribs you'll ever eat.

On May 20, 2013 at 02:46 PM, Dilbert said...
>>The "key" to the baking and staying moist:

ain't that the truth. and it applies to many many things - whole chicken, beef roasts, pork roasts, (ovened) pork chops - etc.

I am fortunately now to have "time in the kitchen" - so I've gone to the low & slow method for pretty much any of it. obviously if you get home at 5:30 PM and want to eat dinner, 2-3-4 hours of oven time is not a reality - you have to jack up the heat and cook faster.

but roasted chicken - 3 hrs at 245'F followed by a brief skin brown&crisp at 500'F - no comparison.

On January 30, 2015 at 06:03 AM, Imat1956 said...
Lion Premium Grills L75623 32" Natural Gas Grill is latest natural gas grill brand known to me so far. It has premium solid stainless steel cooking grates. I bought this grill few months back and have been using it fairly regularly.. The grill works great and I am particulary fond of searing burner.

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