There’s nothing I enjoy more than planning a great barbeque for the weekend. If ribs are on the menu, grilling them to perfection is important. If you’re wondering how long does it take to bbq ribs I’m going to show you.
There are different types of ribs to cook. Preparation is key to ultimate ribs satisfaction. Grill for too long and you’ll get dry and tacky meat. Undercook your ribs and your guests will be disappointed with meat that is hard to chew.
When preparing food, I always factor in time. If you don’t have the time, then don’t waste good ribs. You need prep time to clean, trim and season the ribs. Dry rubs and barbecue sauce add flavor to ribs. There are different types of basting sauces to consider too. You can make them from scratch or get ready-made ones from the supermarket.
Next up is the cooking and grilling time. You don’t want to be rushing the cooking time of ribs. The end result does depend on the length of time you grilled your ribs. To get quality, tasty, perfectly cooked ribs every time it helps to know the right cooking time for ribs.
I’m going to show you how to grill your ribs so they’re tender and succulent. I’ll share with you the different times for different ribs and the preparation techniques. But before I teach you what you need to know, do you know the different types of ribs?
Table of Contents
- 1 Different Ribs for Different Taste Experiences
- 2 How Long Does it Take to Cook Ribs on Charcoal?
- 3 How Long Does it Take to Cook Ribs on the Gas Grill?
- 4 How Long Does it Take to Smoke Ribs?
- 5 How Long Does it Take to Grill BBQ Ribs in the Oven?
- 6 How Do You Know When Ribs are Done?
- 7 Adding Flavor to Your Ribs
- 8 Conclusion
Different Ribs for Different Taste Experiences
When we talk about ribs, we often refer to ribs. You can get lamb and beef ribs but most people choose to barbeque pork for a tastier experience.
You can expect to find the following types of ribs in your supermarket.
- Louis-style ribs/spare ribs
- Baby back ribs
Louis-style ribs/spare ribs
These ribs have been trimmed down to a rectangular shape. They come from the belly side of the rib cage. They are bigger and meatier than back ribs. Spare ribs are often less expensive than your back ribs which is why many people choose them. The meat is tougher so cooking them slow and low is important.
Spare ribs contain a lot of fat which makes them tastier and juicier to eat. They have more bone than meat which is why some cooks prefer to go with baby back ribs.
Louis-style ribs are spare ribs with the rib tips cut off giving a neater rectangular shape. A rack of spare ribs is enough to feed 2 people but it’s always good to have more on offer.
Louis-style ribs need anything from 5 to 6 hours before they’re done.
Baby Back Ribs
Baby back ribs are generally smaller than spare ribs. They’re joined to the backbone, under the loin muscle. These back ribs (or you might see them labeled as loin ribs in your butchery) are more succulent and less fatty than your spare ribs.
As with the spare ribs, these ribs need to be cooked slow and at a low temperature. They are smaller though so your cooking time won’t be as long as the spare ribs. You can expect to spend an hour less cooking your baby back ribs compared to your spare ribs.
I’m now going to talk about grilling your barbecue ribs. You can use charcoal, gas, or even cook your rib in the oven should you so choose. Charcoal is your best bet for low and slow cooking. You can have success cooking ribs on the grill using gas. Smokers are also traditionally used to grill ribs. Some cooks (not all) prefer to boil the ribs before grilling them.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Ribs on Charcoal?
All ribs benefit from grilling over low, consistent heat. You’ll want to keep the temperature at a steady heat of 225F (107C). This means you need about 5 -6 hours for the ribs to cook.
To prepare your ribs on the grill make sure you have the following equipment:
- Charcoal grill
- Charcoal and hardwood chunks
- An aluminum pan to fit the grill
- Aluminum foil
- Sharp knife and meat scissors
Fire up your charcoal grill and get ready to cook your rack of ribs. Here are estimate times you can count on when planning your barbeque:
- The first stage is placing your ribs bone-side down on the grill unwrapped. Estimate 2-3 hours for this stage. You’ll be turning your meat over regularly during this time. The time depends also on how many ribs you are going to grill.
- The next stage is wrapping your ribs in aluminum foil. We do this to keep in the heat and maintain the internal temperature of the meat. The foil keeps the juices in, giving you succulent ribs. The timing here is 2 hours.
- For the last stage, remove the wrapping from the ribs. Place back on the grill and cook for another hour.
Remember: baby back ribs generally cook for an hour less than your spare ribs. You’ll need to check on your fire regularly to maintain the correct temperature.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Ribs on the Gas Grill?
The gas grill is different from your charcoal grill in that it can cook your ribs faster. But, for the perfectly succulent ribs experience, you want to keep the heat low. You can do this on your gas grill by turning off some of the burners.
The trick to using a gas grill is where you place ribs on the grill. Instead of directly on the heat, you’ll be placing your ribs on the side of the burners. This will slow down the cooking time which is what you want for the best bbq ribs.
Using indirect heat will still give you tasty, juicy ribs. If you’re tempted to keep the heat up and grill your ribs fast then you’ll be eating tougher meat.
Barbeque ribs are known for their smoky taste. Using a gas grill means you’ll not have this taste unless you through some smoke bombs into the grill. This works well but not as effective as the charcoal or smoker approach.
Use the same stages as detailed in the charcoal grilling section. However, the length of time may change slightly for each stage if the heat is higher. You can estimate an hour less in cooking time when using the gas grill instead of the charcoal grill.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Ribs?
For smoking ribs, I recommend you use a meat smoker for the best effect. Using this method is a slow process . You’re going to be cooking your ribs over a low temperature. For the best flavor, I estimate approximately 1.5 hours for every kilogram of meat.
Start heating up your smoker slowly – about 30 minutes. You want to aim for a temperature around 250 degrees. Place the rack of ribs in the smoker. Set the timer for 4 – 5 hours depending on the size of your rack. The key point to remember here is to not remove the lid off your smoker too often. This will cause your smoker’s temperature to fluctuate.
If you’re glazing your ribs with barbeque sauce, the best time to do it is in the last half hour of grilling time.
How Long Does it Take to Grill BBQ Ribs in the Oven?
Outdoor barbeques are wonderful for those lazy summer afternoons. But if you want to eat ribs during winter you can – by using the oven.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Prepare your ribs with a dry rub or bbq sauce. The choice is yours! Wrap them in aluminum foil. Once the oven has reached full temperature, place the rack of ribs on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Set the timer to 2 hours 15 minutes for baby back ribs and 3 hours 15 minutes for spare ribs.
When the timer goes off, unwrap the ribs. Add more sauce if you’re using basting. Turn on the grill and place the ribs under the grill. Keep an eye on your ribs while they are grilling. You don’t want them to be grilling for more than 20 – 30 minutes at this stage.
If you take your ribs seriously you could fire up your outside grill to finish off the ribs. Instead of placing them under the oven grill for the last 30 minutes, cook them over direct heat. Place the ribs on the grill and keep an eye on them. You’ll be using the same amount of time but you’ll benefit from an authentic taste experience.
How Do You Know When Ribs are Done?
Once you’ve mastered the art of the grilling time, you can rely on knowing your ribs are perfectly cooked. Being consistent with the length of time is a good strategy. But you need to factor in the size and thickness of the ribs. Outside temperatures will affect your cooking time too.
The Bend Test
Using your barbeque tongs, pick up the rack of ribs. Gently shake the tongs and watch the meat. Does it crack or fall away from the bone? If it does, then your meat is cooked to perfection.
The Toothpick Test
I’ve found this method works every time. Poke a toothpick into the meat of your rib. If it slides in easily with little resistance, your meat is done. Make sure you put the toothpick into different parts of the rib as some areas may have thicker flesh than others.
I like using this test method as it keeps the ribs looking presentable.
The Taste Test
Every cook knows the value of tasting their food while grilling it. You can tell if your ribs are ready by tasting it. But you run the risk of eating uncooked meat which is not only unhygienic but unpleasant too!
The Twist Test
An easy and simple test to do to check if your meat is done. Cut off a piece of bone and twist it. If the meat pulls away easily or flakes, your ribs are done. The disadvantage of this method is your rack will look messy when you present it.
Using Plain Sight
This method of testing relies on you looking at your ribs and using visual signs to indicate readiness. If the meat is pulling off the top of the rib you can expect it to be done.
Take a knife and cut through the flesh. If there are any blood spots, then you need to cook the ribs longer. Ideally, all flesh close to the bone should be white or tan in color.
Adding Flavor to Your Ribs
Once you’ve removed the skin from your ribs, you’re ready to add the flavor. You can do this by applying a rub. If you’re battling to keep the rub on your ribs, I suggest you use a little bit of olive oil, mustard, or honey. This will help to stick your rub to the ribs. Don’t use baste or barbecue sauce at this time.
If you’re worried about the ribs getting too dry during cooking you could apply a sauce. Use a brush to do this. An easy sauce to use is a mixture of the dry rub and apple cider vinegar or beer, Apply this sauce while the meat is cooking.
Eating ribs are associated with the delicious sticky glaze that caramelizes on the top. The glaze is applied during the last stage of cooking. Are you wondering what makes a good glaze? I like to use a combination of sugar or honey with tomato sauce and Worcester Sauce. But you can get creative here – add whatever appeals to you to the base which is sugar or honey.
Ready-made bbq sauces and glazes can be bought from the supermarket. While they save you time if you’re wanting to make the best ribs, using your own recipe can be fun.
Tip: Many barbeque chefs question the need to remove the membrane from the ribs. Some say it keeps the moisture in if you leave this skin on. I’ve found it makes no difference. Try them both ways and decide for yourself what is the best option.
Grilling ribs is easy as long as you know how. For tender and succulent ribs, it’s all about the process. Whether its ribs on the charcoal grill or oven ribs you’re cooking, timing is everything. Cooking ribs is a long and slow process. This means having the right temperature. And the time.
Go on, give ribs a go and create a tantalizing taste experience for you and your guests.