Cooking Ribs: Tips & Tricks for a Mouthwatering Meal

Nothing says summertime quite like the delicious aroma of cooking ribs on the grill. Whether you prefer them dry-rubbed or smothered in sauce, there are tricks and tips to ensure your ribs come out mouthwatering every time. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know to create the perfect BBQ ribs, from selecting the right cut of meat to mastering the cooking process. Fire up the grill and get ready to impress your guests with these tips for making the best ribs around.

Cooking Ribs: Tips & Tricks for a Mouthwatering Meal | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Ribs: Tips & Tricks for a Mouthwatering Meal

Types of Ribs

When it comes to cooking ribs, it’s important to know the different types of ribs available. Here are three of the most common types of ribs used in cooking:

Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are shorter and smaller than other ribs, making them a great option for grilling. They are taken from the top of the ribcage, next to the spine, and are lean and tender. They are also known as loin back ribs and have a slight curvature to them. When cooked, they offer a juicy, meaty taste with a little bit of chewiness.

Spare Ribs

Spare ribs come from the lower belly area of the pig, making them larger and meatier than baby back ribs. They have a higher fat content, which results in a more flavorful and succulent taste. They are typically cooked low and slow so that the meat falls off the bone. Spare ribs are also known as side ribs and spare baby back ribs.

St. Louis-Style Ribs

St. Louis-style ribs are trimmed from spare ribs, which have been trimmed to remove the sternum bone, cartilage, and rib tips. This cut of ribs is meatier than baby back ribs and has a higher fat content than baby back ribs; however, it has less bone and cartilage than spare ribs. The meat is also tender and juicy, making them perfect for grilling and smoking.

Preparing Ribs for Cooking

Properly preparing ribs involves removing the tough membrane, trimming excess fat, and seasoning the meat before cooking to ensure maximum flavor and tenderness.

Removing the Membrane

The membrane is the translucent, tough layer on the back of the ribs. Removing it is crucial as it prevents the flavors from penetrating the meat and makes the ribs chewy. One easy method is to use a butter knife to loosen the membrane and then grab it with a paper towel and pull it off. Another technique is to use a sharp knife to create a small slit at the end of the ribs and use the paper towel to remove the membrane.

Trimming the Fat

While some fat is necessary to keep the meat tender, too much fat can make the ribs greasy and unappetizing. Trim any excess fat from the edges and between the bones to ensure that the meat is evenly cooked and has a good flavor.

Seasoning the Meat

Seasoning the meat before cooking is crucial as it enhances the flavor and makes it more tender. Applying a dry rub or marinade is ideal as they penetrate the meat and add flavor. You can use a store-bought rub or make your own with a combination of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Let the rub sit on the meat for at least an hour before cooking to absorb the flavor.

Cooking Methods for Ribs

When it comes to cooking ribs, there are several methods to choose from. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, with some requiring more time, preparation, or equipment than others. Here are some of the most popular cooking methods for ribs:


Grilling is a popular method for cooking ribs, as it imparts a smoky flavor and creates a charred crust on the outside. To grill ribs, start by seasoning them with a dry rub or marinade. Then, heat your grill to medium-high heat and place the ribs on the grates. Cook the ribs for around 15-20 minutes per side, or until the meat is cooked through and the outside is caramelized.


Smoking is another popular method for cooking ribs, which involves slow-cooking the meat over a low heat while infusing it with smoke from wood chips or chunks. To smoke ribs, you’ll need a smoker (which can be either electric or charcoal), as well as wood chips or chunks in your preferred flavor. Apply a dry rub or marinade to the ribs, and then place them in the smoker for several hours, maintaining a temperature of around 250F. The result is tender, juicy ribs with a deep smoky flavor.


Baking is an easy and convenient method for cooking ribs that doesn’t require any special equipment. To bake ribs, start by seasoning them with a dry rub or marinade. Then, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and place them in a baking dish. Bake the ribs in a preheated oven at 350F for around 2-3 hours, or until the meat is tender and falls off the bone. You can uncover the ribs and broil them for a few minutes at the end to create a crisp crust.


Braising involves cooking ribs in a flavorful liquid (such as broth, wine, or cider) on low heat until the meat is tender and infused with flavor. To braise ribs, start by browning them in a hot skillet with some oil. Then, transfer them to a pot or Dutch oven and add enough liquid to cover them halfway. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook the ribs for several hours on low heat until they are tender and cooked through. You can also add vegetables, herbs, or spices to the liquid to enhance the flavor.

Seasonings and Sauces for Ribs

Cooking ribs doesn’t just involve the cooking process itself, but also the preparation beforehand. Choosing the right seasonings and sauces can greatly impact the taste of your ribs, with popular options including dry rubs, marinades, and BBQ sauce, all of which can be made or bought commercially. Here are some tips for selecting the perfect seasonings and sauces for your ribs:

Dry Rubs

Dry rubs are mixtures of herbs, spices, and sometimes sugar that are rubbed onto the surface of the ribs before cooking. They create a flavorful crust on the outside of the meat when they are cooked, and can be customized according to your preferences. If you’re making your own dry rub, be sure to use fresh spices for the best taste. Here are some common ingredients for a delicious dry rub:

  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cumin
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper


Marinades are liquids that the ribs are soaked in before cooking. They tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor, making them a great option when you want to add a lot of flavor to your ribs. Marinades can be made with a variety of liquids like oil, vinegar, citrus juices, and soy sauce, and can be customized according to your preferences. Here are some ideas for delicious marinades:

  • Honey mustard marinade
  • Teriyaki marinade
  • Coca-cola marinade
  • Chipotle-lime marinade
  • Beer and brown sugar marinade

BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce is a classic sauce for ribs, and there are many different varieties to choose from. It can be used to coat the ribs before cooking, or brushed on during the cooking process. You can buy premade BBQ sauce from the store, or make your own with a few simple ingredients. Here are some ideas for delicious BBQ sauces to try:

  • Classic BBQ sauce
  • Korean BBQ sauce
  • Carolina-style BBQ sauce
  • Honey BBQ sauce

Remember, when it comes to cooking ribs, there are many options to choose from for seasonings and sauces, and the best way to find out what you like best is to experiment with different combinations and recipes. Don’t be afraid to get creative and put your own spin on things!

Common Rib Cooking Mistakes

Cooking ribs can be a challenge- one mistake and you may end up with dry or overcooked meat. Avoiding common rib cooking mistakes is key to achieving juicy, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Here are five common mistakes to avoid when cooking ribs:

Cooking at High Temperature

Cooking ribs at high heat for a shorter time can dry out the meat and make it tough. It’s better to cook ribs at a low temperature for a longer period of time to allow the connective tissues to break down and become tender. Aim for a temperature between 225-250F and cook for 2-3 hours.

Forgetting to Remove the Membrane

Many ribs come with a membrane on the bone side. This membrane can be tough and chewy, preventing the rub and smoke from penetrating the meat. Removing it before cooking will result in a more tender and flavorful rib. To remove the membrane, use a butter knife to slide under the membrane and then grip it with a paper towel and pull off.

Overcrowding the Cooking Surface

When cooking ribs, it’s important to give them plenty of space to allow for even cooking. Overcrowding the grill or smoker can lead to unevenly cooked meat and make it difficult to maintain a steady temperature. Leave enough space between the ribs and don’t be afraid to cook them in batches if necessary.

Not Monitoring Internal Temperature

Using a meat thermometer is essential to achieving perfectly cooked ribs. The internal temperature should reach a minimum of 165F for safe consumption, but for the most tender and juicy ribs, aim for a temperature between 185-190F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding the bone.

Sauce Too Early

Sauce is an important part of any rib recipe, but adding it too early can result in burnt or caramelized sauce and a tough, chewy rib. Wait until the ribs are almost done cooking before applying sauce, and only add a thin layer at a time to prevent it from burning.

Serving Suggestions for Ribs

Ribs are often served as the main course with sides such as coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread, as well as complementary beverages such as beer or sweet tea, depending on your personal preferences.

1. Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a classic side dish that pairs well with ribs. Its cool and creamy texture helps to balance out the smoky and savory flavor of the meat. You can make your own coleslaw at home using shredded cabbage, carrots, and a dressing made from mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and celery seed.

  • For a tangy twist, try adding some chopped pickles or jalapenos to your coleslaw.
  • If you prefer a lighter dressing, you can use Greek yogurt or sour cream instead of mayonnaise.
  • Experiment with different types of cabbage, such as red cabbage or Napa cabbage, to give your coleslaw a unique flavor and texture.

2. Baked Beans

Baked beans are another classic side dish that goes well with ribs. They offer a sweet and savory flavor that complements the smokiness of the meat. You can make your own baked beans using canned beans, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

  • For a spicier flavor, try adding some diced bacon or jalapenos to your baked beans.
  • For a vegetarian version, you can use vegetarian baked beans or substitute the bacon with smoked paprika.
  • Try experimenting with different types of beans, such as navy beans or black beans, to give your dish a unique flavor and texture.

3. Cornbread

Cornbread is a classic Southern staple that pairs perfectly with ribs. Its crumbly texture and sweet flavor help to balance out the bold flavor of the meat. You can make your own cornbread at home using cornmeal, flour, sugar, and butter.

  • For a richer flavor, try adding some chopped cooked bacon to your cornbread batter.
  • For a spicier version, you can add some chopped jalapenos or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Experiment with different types of cornmeal, such as stone-ground or white cornmeal, to give your cornbread a unique flavor and texture.

4. Beverages

When it comes to beverages, there are many options that go well with ribs. Beer is a classic choice, with its carbonation and bitterness helping to cut through the fattiness of the meat. Sweet tea is another Southern staple that pairs well with ribs, offering a refreshing and sweet contrast to the smokiness of the meat.

  • For a non-alcoholic option, try serving lemonade or iced tea.
  • If you prefer a wine, try a bold and fruity red wine like a Zinfandel or Shiraz.
  • For a unique twist, try serving a cocktail made with bourbon, honey, and lemon juice.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope you enjoyed learning some tips and tricks for cooking mouthwatering ribs. Whether you’re using a smoker, grill, or oven, these techniques will help you create perfectly tender and flavorful ribs every time. Remember to experiment with different rubs, sauces, and wood chips to find your perfect combination. And don’t forget to invite some friends and family to share in your delicious creation!

Cooking Ribs: Tips & Tricks for a Mouthwatering Meal | Eat Urban Garden

Cooking Ribs: Tips & Tricks for a Mouthwatering Meal

Learn how to cook mouthwatering ribs using these tips and tricks. Whether you prefer using a smoker, grill, or oven, you'll create perfectly tender and flavorful ribs every time.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 850 kcal


  • 2 racks of pork baby back ribs
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups wood chips
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce


  • Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Mix the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Rub the mixture onto the ribs, making sure to coat both sides. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
  • Soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes. Drain and add them to a foil packet. Place the packet on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the ribs and place them on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 4-5 hours, or until the meat is tender and pulling away from the bone.
  • Remove the ribs from the oven and brush with barbecue sauce. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce is caramelized.
  • Cut the ribs into portions and serve hot with additional barbecue sauce.
Keyword ribs, barbecue, grilling, smoking, cooking, meat

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