With the addition of our pork baby back ribs to our menu come a lot of questions about grilling ribs. If you’ve ever tried preparing ribs at home, you know it can require quite a few steps, a pretty hefty cleanup process, and a lot of questions like am I doing this right? So we wanted to share some of our best tips for cooking ribs, whether in the oven, on the grill or the smoker.

For starters, be sure to get quality ribs that are easy to store in the freezer in case your plans change and you’re not ready to cook them immediately. At Good Ranchers, we promise quality meat each and every time, and we individually wrap our meat making it easier than ever to freeze it until you’re ready to start dinner.

We suggest using baby back ribs, which are smaller and meatier chunks of meat, and usually the most common ones for cooking at home.

Make sure you have the right tools for grilling ribs! This includes a grill, obviously. But also a basting brush to coat them in BBQ sauce or whatever sauce you prefer, grilling tools for maneuvering them on and off the grill like tongs, aluminum foil (for storing in the fridge for an hour to let the dry rub soak in, if you go this route, plus it’s easiest if you need to throw the ribs in the oven for a few more minutes), and a meat thermometer will come in handy too.

Start your grilling session by first removing the thin membrane from the back of the ribs. Insert a knife into the membrane to pull it off of the rib meat, and discard.

Adding a dry rub, spice, or seasoning and letting it set in the fridge is highly recommended, for almost any meat, and definitely pork baby back ribs. Do this and add a sauce/baste towards the end of cooking (see below), instead of one or the other, which adds another layer of flavor as well as helps to tenderize the meat. The longer you leave the rub/spice on the ribs, the better. An hour is usually enough to add a blast of flavor, but leaving it overnight is ideal.

The best way to cook pork baby back ribs over the grill is to set them over indirect heat, so not right on top of the flames. Light one side of the grill, and place the ribs on the other side to get that perfect smoky flavor. Sure this takes a while longer, but it gives it a tender and perfectly juicy flavor that you can’t resist.

Some people prefer layering the slabs of ribs on top of each other, then rotating every 10 minutes to help get a juicier and smokier flavor, but that takes a bit of time and patience. If you’ve never tried that method, we highly recommend it.

Baste and add sauce towards the end of your grilling session, to avoid burning your tender meat. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the last 20-30 minutes of grilling to add. If you do choose the stacking method, you can lay them side-by-side after you coat them in your desired sauce.

How To Know When Your Ribs Are Done

This is always the tricky part, but your Good Ranchers team is here to help. When the meat starts to separate from the bone, check to see if they are done. You’ll notice that the meat draws back and when you can see about 3/4 an inch of the rib bone, they are close to done. You can also start to see the color change, and usually note that a mahogany color denotes they are done.

Our favorite method to see if the ribs are done is picking them up with grilling tongs. If the ribs start to look flexible or bend towards the ground, that’s your cue they are ready to be pulled off the grill and put on the dinner table! You can also rely on a toothpick, pricked between two bones. If the toothpick goes through easily, you’re good to go.

Like all grilled meat, we highly suggest waiting 10 minutes to let the meat rest and the juices redistribute before digging in. This is a good habit to get into when grilling and everyone at your dinner table will applaud you for your patience, trust us.

Be sure to read more grilling tips everyone should know. We also share more recipe ideas, like this steak skewer recipe blog post and this blog post with 4 tasty chicken marinade recipes to help take your grilling game to the next level.