All about barbecued ribs

Feb 1, 2008 at 11:07 p.m. ET

Everybody loves BBQ! Whether you are planning a big summer BBQ party or just want to make a delicious meal for your family, you can never go wrong with barbecued ribs. This guide will tell you all about rib styles, how to cook ribs, how to season ribs, BBQ sauces and more.

Barbecued ribs

Tender, juicy ribs are a favorite for all occasions and with the right preparation, you can make great tasting ribs without a lot of hassle.

Rib Styles

Loin Back Ribs

Loin back ribs, as the name indicates, are taken from the back area. They have less meat and fat than spareribs. However, back ribs also are more tender as well. These ribs are oftentimes referred to as baby back ribs; though some people consider baby back ribs to only be those back ribs from smaller hogs.



Spareribs are from the belly and are large in size. They are meaty, but also have quite a bit of fat. These ribs are very flavorful and delicious.

St. Louis Style Ribs

St. Louis style ribs are spareribs with the brisket bone removed. The skirt meat along the bottom edge on the bone side of the ribs is also sometimes removed.

Kansas City Style Ribs

These ribs are similar to St. Louis style ribs but they are trimmed more. The end flap and bottom bones are removed and they are cut into a rectangle shape. They look like back ribs, but they are actually trimmed spareribs.

Preparing Ribs

To make the most tender and delicious ribs possible, there are several things you should do before cooking them.

Wash the ribs and blot dry with a paper towel. You should then remove the membrane, trim the slab and remove any excess fat. Many people choose not to remove the membrane. However, seasonings and smoke cannot penetrate through the tough membrane. Therefore, for the most tender ribs, it's best to remove it. Loin back ribs have a tougher membrane than spareribs.

For back ribs, start at the small end of your slab of ribs. For spareribs, start at the end with the larger ribs. Use a butter knife to slip under the membrane to lift the edge. Grab the membrane and pull it off toward the other end. You can use a paper towel to grab it to prevent slipping. The membrane should come off in one piece. If it doesn't, repeat the process until it's removed.

Trim off any veins or large piece of fat that are hanging from the edges of the ribs.

Seasoning Your Ribs

Most people choose to use a rub or marinade to flavor their ribs. Rubs are a dry blend of spices, herbs and salt. You sprinkle the rub blend onto the ribs and then rub it into the meat. You should apply dry rubs about six hours before cooking.

Marinade is a liquid seasoning. Marinades can be made from soy sauce, fruit juice, wine or oils. They also can combine spices, garlic and chiles. You can marinade ribs in large sealable plastic bags in your refrigerator overnight.

A combination of rub and marinade is a wet rub. This is a seasoning paste that you spread over your ribs several hours before cooking.

Cooking Your Ribs

Usually only two or three racks of ribs can lay flat in a kettle grill. To make more room, use a rib rack. Rib racks have six slots to hold your ribs on their edge, thus making more room on your grill. If you don't have a rib rack, you can stand the ribs on their edge and roll them. Roll the ends toward each other and secure in the rolled position with twine or a skewer.

For the best ribs, grill them on a low temperature (225 degrees F) for a long period of time. Ribs oftentimes take 4-6 hours or more to be grilled to perfection.

Many people boil ribs before grilling, but it's not necessary. If your ribs start to get to dark on the outside before they are tender on the inside, wrap them in foil and continue cooking on the grill.

Are Your Ribs Done?

When ribs are done, the outside should be brown and crusty, while the meat should shrink back about 1/4 inch from the ends of the bone.

Do the tear test. If you can tear the meat from the bone easily, the ribs are tender and reading to be removed from the grill.

Sauce or No Sauce?

Many rib enthusiasts will say good ribs don't need BBQ sauce. However if you like sauce, then why not?

Some people use mop sauce. These BBQ sauces are mopped onto ribs periodically throughout the cooking process.

You can also choose to just lightly baste ribs when they are nearly finished cooking instead. After your ribs are tender, baste them with a light coating of sauce and finish cooking for about 15 minutes, sealing the sauce flavor in.

Below are a few recipes for rubs, marinades and sauces. Enjoy your ribs!

Spicy Dry Rub


  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika


  1. Wash and trim ribs, removing membrane.
  2. Blot dry with a paper towel.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle dry rub over ribs.
  5. Using your hands, rub it into the meat.
  6. After ribs are thoroughly coated and rubbed, wrap in plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate four to six hours before grilling.

Garlic Soy Sauce Marinade


  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)



  1. Wash and trim ribs, removing membrane.
  2. Blot dry with a paper towel.
  3. Mix all ingredients.
  4. Place ribs in a sealable plastic bag.
  5. Fill bag with marinade to cover ribs.
  6. Refrigerate 12-24 hours before grilling.

Pineapple Chutney BBQ Sauce


  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup chutney
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper



  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring sauce to a rapid boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Use sauce to baste ribs in last 15 minutes of grilling.

Some of this content was originally written and published by Kori Ellis at 

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