Pork or beef ribs
Choosing between pork and beef ribs really comes down to personal taste preferences. Some say pork ribs are more tender, but beef ribs can be just as tender when cooked correctly.
There are a few varieties of pork and beef ribs to choose from: bone-in or boneless (which will be discussed more below) so make your choice depending on whether or not you want bones.
Pork ribs tend to have more fat, which is why many people find them more tender and juicy, but beef ribs also have a decent amount of fat that helps make them delicious and juicy as well.
Boneless or bone-in
Boneless versus bone-in is all a matter of personal choice, but bone-in is slightly better for grilling because boneless can easily fall apart. You can buy large racks of ribs and grill them until the meat falls off the bone or you can buy boneless short ribs and they will turn out tender and juicy. If you choose boneless, wrap them in aluminum foil to keep them from falling through the grill racks.
Marinades and rubs
You can either use a wet marinade or a dry rub to give your ribs loads of flavor. For a wet marinade, be sure to use a small amount of either citrus or vinegar to help break down the cartilage and make the meat nice and tender. You can also add lots of herbs and spices to brighten the flavors of the marinade.
If you want to try for internationally-flavored ribs, mix in some herbs and spices resembling flavors of the world. For instance, add soy sauce and sesame seeds for Asian-inspired ribs or oregano and tomato paste for Italian-style ribs. Tabasco and onions make a delicious spicy marinade and you can make a thick and slightly sweet brown sugar marinade.
If you would rather use a dry rub, use a variety of dried herbs and spices like chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, or dry mustard. You can even add ground dried citrus pieces, dill, or smokey cumin and paprika.
Experiment with all kinds of herbs and spices to get a rub that's just right for you. You should let your ribs sit in the marinade or rub for at least 12 hours, but 24 hours is even better. The flavors will become more intense the longer you let the ribs marinate and also the flavors will meld together better.
Cooking time and temperature
Beef ribs can be cooked to order and pork ribs should be cooked fully. You should cook them over medium heat with the lid closed for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how thick they are. Try to only flip the ribs once so you get nice grill marks on both sides. (Keeping the lid closed will give you a nice smokey flavor and help them cook evenly from the inside out.)
Up next: BBQ rib recipes >>