Though my husband doesn’t do a lot of cooking, his talents shine bright when it comes to the grill. He has the Midas touch when it comes to tender, juicy chicken and gets the sear on a steak just right.
His willingness to tend to the grill while I prepare the rest of the meal inside is always appreciated. Perhaps because these juicy ribs are completely foolproof, I always end up with the grilling duty for this recipe.
The key to success lies in the simple spice rub and the slow and low cooking method. Because these ribs require an extended stay on the grill, I plan to make them when I know I can be home most of the afternoon. That said, the time at home may be spent doing other things. Though these ribs can’t be rushed, they require only an occasional check-in and the effort is surprisingly low.
Yields 8 servings.
- 3 racks baby back ribs (about 3 pounds per rack; see notes)
- Spice rub (recipe follows)
- 3/4 – 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix the spice rub ingredients and store in a jar or other airtight container. Stored in a cool, dry place, the rub will keep for several months.
For optimal flavor, prep the ribs the day before grilling. If this is not possible, it is ok to do this step the same day: If there is still a membrane along the bone side of the ribs, peel it off. (Removing this is easy if you make a small slit with a knife and then work your fingers beneath the membrane and pull. Removing the membrane will result in more tender ribs.) Then cut each rack into three sections. Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. Depending on exact size of the racks, I sometimes have a little leftover and sometimes use it all. Place the ribs in an extra-large zipper-top bag or other clean bag (with no holes…double bag if you’re not sure) and seal. Store in the refrigerator until ready to grill.
Remove the ribs from the fridge a half hour before grilling. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking; preheat to approximately 220 degrees F or the lowest heat you can achieve. (My last grill would never go below about 250 degrees and this was fine.) Grill the ribs over indirect heat with the lid on for 5 hours total, rotating the racks once every hour or hour and 15 minutes. For example, with a gas grill, turn one side of the grill off and set the other side to the lowest heat possible. If you have three zones, turn two off and set the remaining zone to low, positioning the ribs off the direct heat. The same concept applies for a charcoal grill.
After 5 hours, baste the ribs with the barbecue sauce. At this point, I like to turn up the heat and brush the ribs liberally with the sauce, flipping them occasionally until the sauce caramelizes.
Remove the ribs to a platter, and allow them to rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut into sections of 2-3 ribs or serve as larger racks, as desired. Wet wipes optional!
- Look for pork baby back ribs, not country style ribs. Also, this amount of ribs will require a fairly large grill. For a small grill or fewer people, the amount of ribs may easily be reduced. (Leftovers, however, are delicious!)
For a quick and delicious homemade barbecue sauce that relies on basic pantry ingredients, click here. Your favorite store-bought sauce will work beautifully, too.