How To Grill Baby Back Ribs
Our test kitchen's unique stacking method gives you fall-off-the-bone tender results every time you grill.
Summertime is grilling time. Grilled ribs—saucy and spicy or meaty and plain—require experienced hands at the grill, but we believe anyone can learn how to grill baby back ribs. Let us give you some pointers, and your grilled ribs will be legendary, fall-off-the-bone masterpieces in no time.
For tender ribs, four steps are all you need. Our Test Kitchen’s tried-and-true method involves tenderizing, seasoning, grilling, and basting. We’ll walk you through it, and once you’ve mastered the steps, we hope you’ll try some of our tastiest baby back rib recipes, smoky-sweet-savory concoctions like Smoky Chipotle Baby Back Ribs and Sweet-Hot Baby Back Ribs. Your grill will thank you, and your guests will too. Of course, your masterpeice won't be complete without one of our barbecue sauce recipes and don't forget to include one of our best barbecue side dishes.
Make Meat Tender
This essential first step will ensure a fall of the bone masterpiece at the end of the day. Don’t cut corners in this step. As long as you follow the steps to the letter, it will pay off in the long run. You should start by removing the very thin membrane from the back of the ribs. Do this by slicing into the membrane with a sharp knife and pulling it off of the rib meat. To tenderize baby back ribs, next you should combine kosher salt with black and red peppers and set it aside—eventually, it will add flavor, infusing the ribs with additional savory qualities.
Add Spicy Flavor
Once the thin membrane is removed from the meat, you’ll want to add a kick of flavor to the ribs. Next, you should rub ribs with the cut sides of limes, squeezing as you rub so that the citrusy juices seep from the lime half into the meat. Then massage the salt and peppers mixture (combined and set aside in the first step) into the rib meat, ensuring that you cover all sides as you go. Then wrap the spiced and lime-infused meat tightly with plastic wrap. Place it in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish; cover and chill for 8 hours. Be patient with this step. It will be worth it.
Stack & Grill
Eight hours later, the ribs will be sufficiently infused with the ingredients from step two. In preparation for grilling—arguably the most exciting step—light one side of the grill, heating it to a temperature between 350° and 400° (or medium-high heat). Be sure to leave other side unlit. Let the slabs stand at room temperature 30 minutes, and then remove plastic wrap.
Then the fun part. Place the slabs of ribs over the unlit side of grill, stacking one on top of the other. Grill in that configuration, covered with grill lid, for 40 minutes. Then rotate the slabs, moving the bottom slab to the top of the stack. Grill for another 40 minutes. Rotate again; grill another 40 minutes.
Place slabs over unlit side of grill, stacking one on top of the other. Grill, covered with grill lid, 40 minutes. Rotate slabs, moving bottom slab to top; grill 40 minutes. Rotate again; grill 40 minutes.
Separate & Baste
To add even more flavor to your ribs, the next step is to separate and baste the slabs on the grill. You should lower the grill temperature to between 300° and 350° (or medium heat). Then place the slabs side by side over the unlit side of grill. Baste with barbecue sauce, then grill ribs for 30 minutes, covered with grill lid. During this time, you can baste with the sauce occasionally, adding as much sauce as often as you would like according to your flavor preference. Then remove the ribs from the grill, and let them stand for at least 10 minutes.
Voila! Your ribs are ready to be enjoyed—preferably with a few delicious side dishes and a decadent dessert. You can use this traditional recipe for ribs, or if you’re adventurous, you can increase the flavor profile of your ribs dramatically with the help of some of our most mouthwatering recipes. The recipe for Grilled Baby Back Ribs is pictured above. You can also try a mouthwatering jolt of heat in our recipe for Sweet-Hot Baby Back Ribs. Then there’s the savory Smoky Chipotle Baby Back Ribs which takes the chipotle flavor to new heights. Add some bursting fruity flavor with the recipe for Apricot-Pineapple Sweet Ribs—it blends perfectly with the meatiness of the ribs. Another rib infusion can be found in our recipe for Honey-Soy Appetizer Ribs, which are a crowd-favorite flavor and also easy to eat standing up at a party (an often undervalued attribute for a tasty appetizer)