This Easy Grilled Baby Back Ribs recipe will show you the best way to season and grill the ribs using a homemade BBQ seasoning and rub. You can prepare these tender, fall off the bone ribs using a gas grill or charcoal.
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Making ribs on the grill is a must during the summer months and perfect for any cookout spread.
What Type of Ribs to Use
You can use any ribs you like in this recipe, the prep and cook times will remain about the same. I used baby back pork ribs.
Baby back (pork) ribs are from the high back and backbone. These are the ribs found in bone-in pork loin chops, but without the loin. A lot of people find these to be more tender and lean. They are usually more expensive than the other pork ribs.
A slab or rack of baby back often includes 10-13 ribs and weighs 1- 3 pounds. One rack is usually enough to serve 2 people, maybe 3 or 4 if 2 pounds. This slab was a little over 3 pounds.
Spare ribs are cut from the belly and behind the shoulder. They are closer to the belly and tend to have more fat. These ribs are also really flat. Because they have more fat, there’s lots of flavor so some people tend to favor these.
St. Louis Style ribs are spare ribs that have been trimmed down by cutting away the hard breastbone and chewy cartilage, otherwise known as connective tissue.
Beef back ribs are from the upper part of the cow and are the same cut found in bone-in ribeyes. These are usually mostly bone and fat, with a small amount of meat, but have lots of flavor.
Beef short ribs come from the lower part of the animal. These are typically really meaty and often served braised.
What is a Dry Rub? How to Season the Meat
A dry rub is a combination of spices and seasoning added to the meat to enhance flavor. It’s different from a marinade which has liquid ingredients (often to tenderize the meat) like apple cider vinegar or citrus.
Marinades are great for hearty meats that won’t necessarily get tender on their own by cooking, such as chicken, thick cuts of pork, and steak. I don’t find a marinade necessary for ribs because they are slow-cooked and have a nice amount of fat on them to keep the meat tender and juicy. Feel free to use a liquid marinade if you wish.
I love to use my Homemade BBQ Rub and Seasoning for these. It’s a combination of the following:
Can I Leave a Dry Rub on Overnight?
If you plan to serve the ribs with only a dry rub and no BBQ sauce, I recommend prepping the ribs overnight (or 10-12 hours) for amazing flavor.
If you plan to serve them with BBQ sauce, 2 hours in advance is optimal, but still not required. When you prep the meat it allows the spices to penetrate and enhances the flavor.
Store the ribs covered and in the refrigerator.
Remove the Membrane From the Back of the Ribs
Most ribs will have a thin membrane intact on the back of the ribs that protect the bones.
If you leave this on, it will prevent the dry rub from penetrating into the meat. It will also get hard when you grill it and the ribs will tough and rubbery to eat.
The best way to remove it is to use a small knife and a paper towel. The paper towel will help because it’s really slippery. I have removed the membrane without it, plenty of times. Do what works best for you.
It may come off in one pull, or you may have several attempts.
Do You Have to Trim Them or Remove Any Fat?
I like to trim any lose ends or meat tags if they are there. These will char quickly on the grill so this will help avoid that. I keep the marble of fat within the ribs intact. This will add a lot of flavor.
How to Get Smoked Flavor
A lot of people will argue the best way is to use a smoker. You can also use a smoking pouch. You fill the smoking pouch with wood chips and follow the instructions on the packaging. Some require direct heat on the burners or coals of the grill. Some don’t.
You can also create your own smoking pouch using foil.
How to Grill Baby Back Ribs
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Pat the ribs dry. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.
- Drizzle liquid smoke onto both sides of the ribs.
- Sprinkle the BBQ rub throughout onto both sides of the ribs.
- Place the ribs on the grill, meat side up.
Ribs are slow-cooked, so that means you want your temperature to be lower than medium heat. Preheat your grill to 250 degrees. Getting to know your grill is important. Most modern and newer grills will display the temperature.
If you don’t have a temperature dial you can do a hand test to see if the grill has reached medium-high. You can read more about How to Check the Temperature of Your Grill here.
How Long You Cook Them
Grill the ribs for 90 minutes to two hours. You can test if the ribs are finished cooking by using a meat thermometer. According to the USDA, pork ribs should cook to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees.
Charcoal vs Gas Grill
For a charcoal grill, add charcoal to one side of the grill. On the other side, place a foil pan filled with water, this keeps the ribs moist. Replace the grill grates and light the fire. Let the grill reach a temperature of 250-275 degrees. You’ll need to monitor the fire and add more charcoal as needed throughout cooking to keep the temperature constant.
For a gas grill, light one of the burners and close the grill and allow it to reach a temperature between 250 and 300 degrees. You will grill the ribs on the opposite burners away from the direct heat.
More BBQ and Main Dish Grilling Recipes
Air Fryer Catfish
Air Fryer Fish Sticks
Instant Pot Ribs
Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich
Homemade BBQ Seasoning
How to Make a Charcuterie Cheese Board
Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs
Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon
How to Grill Chicken Wings
How to Grill the Best Burgers
Cedar Plank Shrimp
Mushroom Swiss Burgers
More Rib Recipes
Pair These Ribs With These Side Dishes
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Southern Baked Beans
Southern Potato Salad
Southern Soul Food Baked Mac and Cheese
Easy Spaghetti Salad
Southern Macaroni Salad
Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
Air Fryer Corn on the Cob
Easy Grilled Baby Back Ribs
- Pat the ribs dry. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. The best way to remove it is to use a small knife and a paper towel. The paper towel will help because it's really slippery. I have removed the membrane without it, plenty of times. Do what works best for you.
- Drizzle liquid smoke onto both sides of the ribs.
- Sprinkle the BBQ rub throughout onto both sides of the ribs. Use your hands to press it down into the meat so that it penetrates the meat.
- If you plan to serve the ribs with only a dry rub and no BBQ sauce, I recommend prepping the ribs overnight (or 10-12 hours) for amazing flavor.If you plan to serve them with BBQ sauce, 2 hours in advance is optimal, but still not required. When you prep the meat it allows the spices to penetrate and enhances the flavor.Store the ribs covered and in the refrigerator.
- Preheat your grill to 250 degrees. For a gas grill I light one of the burners and adjust the heat on it to medium. Close the grill and allow it to reach a temperature between 250 and 300 degrees.
- Place the ribs on the grill, meat side up, on the area of the grill that isn't lit with a burner. For example, I light the burner to the far left and I place the ribs in the middle and toward the right. Ribs are slow cooked using indirect heat. You don't want to place them on the area of the grill with the most heat.
- Grill the ribs for 90 minutes to two hours. You can test if the ribs are finished cooking by using a meat thermometer. Pork ribs should cook to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees.
- Drizzle and brush bbq sauce onto both sides of the ribs. Allow them to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the ribs from the grill. Cool before serving.
- You can use any cut of ribs in this recipe.
- A lot of recipes call for mustard. Mustard is used to rub down the ribs prior to applying the dry rub to help it stick. I don’t have a problem with getting the rub to stick. Feel free to use mustard if you wish.
- You can use any BBQ Rub or seasoning you like. Ensure the ribs are fully coated.
- Liquid Smoke is optional. Omit it if you wish.
- I don’t find a liquid marinade necessary for ribs because they are slow-cooked and have a nice amount of fat on them to keep the meat tender and juicy. Feel free to use a liquid marinade if you wish.
- Cook time will vary based on the grill you use, temperature, and the size of your ribs. Check in on them and always use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness.