How To Grill Baby Back Ribs

How To Grill Baby Back Ribs: Rib Recipes
Photo: Jennifer Davick

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. Our test kitchen's unique stacking method gives you tender results every time you grill. Let us give you some pointers, and your grilled ribs will be legendary, fall-off-the-bone masterpieces in no time. Four steps are all you need: Our 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, including 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 masterpiece won't be complete without one of our barbecue sauce recipes, and don't forget to include one of our best barbecue side dishes. But before you get started, here are our tips for the tenderest ribs.

01 of 06

Make Meat Tender

How To Grill Baby Back Ribs: Make Meat Tender
Photo: Jennifer Davick

This essential first step will ensure a fall-off-the-bone masterpiece at the end of the day, so don't cut corners. As long as you follow the steps to the letter, it will pay off in the long run:

  1. 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.
  2. Next, combine kosher salt with black and red peppers and set it aside—eventually, this seasoning will tenderize the meat and add flavor and heat.
02 of 06

Add Spicy Flavor

How To Grill Baby Back Ribs: Add Spicy Flavor
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Once the thin membrane is removed from the meat, you'll want to add a kick of flavor to the ribs. Here's how to do it:

  1. 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.
  2. Then massage the salt and pepper mixture (combined and set aside in the first step) into the rib meat, ensuring that you cover all sides as you go.
  3. Finally, 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.
03 of 06

Stack & Grill

How To Grill Baby Back Ribs: Stack & Grill
Photo: Jennifer Davick

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 of 350°. 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 begins:

  1. 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.
  2. Then rotate the slabs, moving the bottom slab to the top of the stack. Grill for another 40 minutes.
04 of 06

Separate & Baste

How To Grill Baby Back Ribs: Separate & Baste
Photo: Jennifer Davick

To add even more flavor to your ribs, the next step is to separate and baste the slabs on the grill, following these instructions:

  1. Lower the grill temperature to 300° (or medium heat). Then place the slabs, meaty side up and side by side over the unlit side of grill. Baste with barbecue sauce, then grill ribs for 30 minutes, covered with grill lid.
  2. Continue basting with the sauce occasionally, adding as much sauce as often as you would like according to your flavor preference.
05 of 06

Grill Until Tender

Ribs on the grill
Kortney Powell

Continue cooking ribs over low heat until it is tender and pulls from the bone. This can require patience, as ribs can take two hours or more to cook to perfection. Then remove the ribs from the grill, and let them stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

06 of 06

Rib Recipes

How To Grill Baby Back Ribs: Rib Recipes
Jennifer Davick

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:

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