Unlike steak or hamburgers, you can’t just throw a rack of ribs over some hot grill or coals and begin grilling, unless you enjoy tough and dry ribs.
BBQ fanatics know that authentic BBQ spare ribs or baby backs are slow-smoked for close to 4 ½ hours over charcoal and wood.
Learning how to grill smoking and succulent pork ribs is a proven technique that will make you the envy of your neighborhood!
While grilling pork ribs can be intimidating, you will be surprised how easy it is to grill up a perfect rack, every time. So now, let’s get to this delicious grilled pork recipe!
What You Will Need
Ingredients for the Ribs
2 racks of ribs (baby back or spare and 2 to 2 ½ pounds each)
Vegetable oil for grill rack.
Ingredients for the Rub
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar.
2 tablespoons coarse salt.
2 teaspoons mustard powder.
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper.
2 teaspoons hot paprika.
1 teaspoon celery seed.
Ingredients for the Sauce
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped.
3 garlic cloves, minced.
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes.
¼ cup tomato paste.
¼ cup bourbon.
1 cup strained tomatoes.
½ cup cider vinegar.
1 cup water
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar.
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Cook time: 4 ½ hours
Step 1: Prep the Ribs
Rinse the ribs in water thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, remove the skin-like membrane that’s positioned on the bottom or bone side of the ribs.
For easy removal of the skin, slide a dinner knife underneath the membrane between the second or third bone from the end, or thereabout, and then grab the membrane with a cloth and gently peel it off the ribs and discard. Repeat the same procedure with the remaining rack.
Removing the skin helps the rub and seasonings to penetrate the pork ribs easily.
Step 2: Make the Rub
Mix the sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, mustard powder and celery seed in a bowl. If the mixture turns out to be clumpy, sieve it through a medium sieve. Then, rub the mixture evenly and liberally on both sides of each rack.
The rub seasoning that naturally sticks to the ribs is enough. Whatever falls off after rubbing can be discarded.
Place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and cover them nicely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight as well for the sauce to soak in.
When about to begin grilling, let the ribs stand up to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.
Step 3: Make and Simmer the Sauce
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is tender. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Add red-pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook for a minute.
Stir in bourbon while scraping the pan. Then, stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, water, and sugar and cook while continuing to stir until the sugar dissolves. You can add your favorite sauces here as well.
Simmer the sauce by bringing it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by 1/3, for about 30 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and let it cool down slightly. Separate one cup of sauce to be used to baste and three cups to be served as a sauce on the side. Refrigerate until ready for use.
The sauce will be used to baste the ribs during the final 10 minutes of cooking.
Step 4: Prep Your Grill
Place a disposable aluminum drip pan in the center of the bottom grill rack. The rack should be filled with water as the ribs ill cook above it. If using a charcoal grill, get the coals hot and spread them out from the middle, creating a well for the drip pan to sit in.
Top coals with 1 to 2 chunks of hardwood or 1 cup of wood chips that have been soaked in water for 1 hour and drained, for that smoky flavor. Replace the top rack.
If using a gas grill, place the pan to one side and only light half the burners for indirect grilling. Preheat the grill to about 275 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Try to maintain this temperature throughout your cooking so that the ribs don’t cook fast.
The pork ribs are grilled over indirect heat which is low and excellent for grilling ribs.
Clean the cooking grates and carefully wipe them down with a bit of oil to make them non-stick. Fold a paper towel into a thick rectangle and dip it in oil. Hold the towel with tongs and brush oil on top grill rack gently.
Step 5: Grill the Ribs
Let the ribs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Place both rib racks directly on the grill, bone side down, directly over the pan. Cover the grill while keeping top grill vents halfway open and bottom vents completely open to maintain the grill temperature of 275 to 325F.
Cook the ribs without turning, until the meat is tender but not falling off the bones, and has as well shrunk ½ inch from ends and 3 to 3 ½ hours maintaining the temperatures and adding 8 briquettes to each charcoal pile after every hour when using a charcoal grill.
Step 6: Baste the Ribs
Transfer 1 cup of sauce to a small serving bowl. Brush both sides of the ribs with remaining 1 cup sauce. Make sure to coat it well. Cover, and continue grilling until the ribs have a glistening and deep mahogany appearance, in the final 15 minutes of grilling time.
Any earlier application will cause the sauce to simply dry out.
Step 7: Serve
Carefully get the ribs off the grill and place on a large cutting board and let the pork ribs stand for 10 minutes. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the ribs between the bones and serve with the reserved sauce.
Smoked or grilled pork ribs have a ton of excellent flavor that you can’t miss out on. This home recipe of how to grill pork ribs ranks high as one of the favorite BBQ recipes to share among BBQ enthusiasts. Enjoy!