How to Prepare and Cook Barbecue Pork Ribs

Jason Webster
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Preparing Ribs

Before you can cook pork ribs in the oven, they must first be prepared and roasted.

Cut the membrane off the ribs.

Rub salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on the ribs.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and roast the ribs on a non-stick baking sheet for one hour. Turn the ribs every 15 minutes to ensure they are evenly cooked.

Discard the juices from the baking sheet and place the ribs on a grill pan.

Turn the heat on the oven to 350 degrees F to preheat this surface.

Cook them for 40 minutes while basting them with sauce every 10 minutes. This makes the ribs more flavorful as they absorb the sauce during the cooking time.

Turn off the oven and allow the ribs to cool in the oven until they reach 205 degrees F.

Remove the ribs from the oven, slice and serve.

Removing the Membrane

The membrane, also known as the “silverskin,” is a thin sheath of skin on the underside of the ribs that’s not a part of the actual rib.

This film is really thin but because of its stretchiness, it often gets stuck on the bone ends, exposing the bone.

When removing the silverskin, you are actually removing the fiber of the membrane from the bone.

The key is not to pull too hard or fast on the silverskin.

Try to sqeeze it between your thumb and index finger as you pull it towards the bone end you’re working on. It’s a lot like wiping off the dirt from a mirror.

Once the “shine” or the whitish film of membrane is off, you can start to remove it from the rib by rolling.

Grip the end of the rib and start rolling it towards the side of the rib. It should come off easily like taking off a tape.

Trimming ribs

To start, remove the thin membrane that covers the back of the ribs and clean off all the excess fat.

You can do so by using a knife (be careful not to cut too deep) or by simply scraping it off with a spoon. After that, cut the rack in between each rib.

The amount of ribs you want to use in your recipe is up to you, but don’t worry: the remaining ribs are still edible, they’ll taste great with beer sauce!

The best ways to barbecue pork ribs

There is just something about pork ribs that get me excited and I can’t remember a time that I was ever disappointed when I ordered the Barbecue Ribs dish in a restaurant.

So here I am revealing to you my go-to recipe to cook barbecue ribs at home.

Cooking barbecue is not rocket science and you have a variety of options to make them succulent and perfectly tender. I’ll start with the easiest method below that requires no tools and no mess in the kitchen. Then I’ll share with you my slightly more complicated but much better way to sear and smoke the ribs on the grill.

Now here’s a fun fact. Did you know that the word barbecue comes from barabicu and it is native to the Arawakan and Taino tribes that once lived in the Caribbean? FYI, it can also come from the Spanish word barbacoa. Anyway, I’m guessing that the Arawakan and Taino tribes did not use electric smokers as we do today and instead used fires. So we’re off to a good start to learn how to barbecue ribs.

So let’s start the fun!

How to smoke pork ribs using the 3-2-1 Method

This method is very similar to the original 2-2-1 method, but it includes an additional step.

Pull the membrane off of the back of the ribs, but do not cut the membrane.

Set up your grill for indirect medium heat cooking, about 300-350 degrees F.

Place your ribs directly over the heat on a high heat side of the grill.

You want to sear the ribs to form a savory crust, so place them over the high heat using an aluminum foil pan for protection and to catch the drips.

Sear the meat side of the ribs for about 5 minutes per side.

Flip them over, and then move them to the indirect heat side of the grill.

When your smoker is ready, place the ribs, meat side up in a rib rack in a disposable aluminum pan and place a foil pan or drip pan under the pan to catch any leaks.

Close the lid and leave the ribs until the meat is tender and the internal temperature reaches about 160 degrees F. Total cooking time will depend on how much done you like your ribs.

When the meat is about 3/4 of the way done, remove the pan from the grill and place it in a roasting pan in the oven still at 300 degrees F. Pour 1.5 cups of apple juice into the pan and cook until internal temperature of the pork ribs reaches 200 degrees F.

Alternatives to the 3-2-1 Method

There is no single barbecue method used around the world. Moreover, if you happen to be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on some remote island with limited resources, it’s not going to be easy to locate an affordable beef of the highest quality to use in your barbecue efforts.

Here are a few barbecue alternatives that are more practical and cost effective than the 3-2-1 method (more on this later).

The 5-5-3 Method

This method is used by the majority of barbecue competition teams around the world. Basically, instead of the recommended one hour of smoke exposure with the lid closed and then 30 minutes of smoke exposure with the lid open, the cook times are 30 minutes with the lid closed and 5 minutes with the lid open.

In practice, you need to put your ribs in the smoker for about 30 minutes with the lid closed when you start the smoke process, and then open the lid and check on them. If they’re just about ready, leave them open only for a minute or two, then shut the lid. If they’re still not close to being done, close the lid and let them smoke for about 5 more minutes before checking again.

Should you Cook your Ribs Naked, Sauced or Spritzed?

Smoking your barbecue pork ribs before cooking ensures a tasty crust that’s loaded with flavor.

The time required to smoke ribs varies depending on the cut, cooking temperature, and humidity. The longer you smoke it, the more tender it becomes.

The three methods of cooking barbecue pork ribs are naked, sauced, and spritzed.

Naked ribs are the still-on-the-bone ribs that are cooked directly over high heat. It’s useful if you’re working with a large amount of ribs.

Spritzed ribs are tender ribs that are baked or grilled after being coated and marinated. The marinade bathes the meat while baking or grilling. The acidity of the marinade cuts nicely through the fattiness of the ribs.

Sauteed ribs are tender meat that is served slathered in barbecue sauce.

Before preparing and cooking barbecue pork ribs, make sure you remove the thick white membrane that is located between the ribs and the meat. Also, the bones should be removed.

The cooking methods for removing both the membrane and the bones are different.

Should You Wrap Your Ribs?

Wrapping or not wrapping? That is the question (actually, it is not, just don’t wrap them!)

Wrapping the ribs tightly with aluminum foil traps the flavors and steam inside the foil pouch, and the ribs cook faster and more evenly. But when you take away the foil, all the juices get lost to the grill and leave you with dry ribs.

The other problem with wrapping is that all the rub and baste gets stuck to the foil, leaving you with dry, bland ribs.

My favorite method is to use a disposable aluminum pan, which traps the steam and moisture in the pan, leaving the ribs moist and tender.

And when it comes to BBQ pork seasonings, please don’t wrap the ribs! The ribs flavor comes from the dry rub for BBQ pork. The wet baste sauces on the other hand add another layer of flavors to the ribs, but they should never get so sticky and thick that they can’t be removed.

How to Tell if Your Ribs Are Cooked

When you are barbecuing pork ribs, determining doneness is important. If your ribs are undercooked, it can result in a number of different problems such as raw or bloody meat. If your ribs are overcooked, it could lead to toughened meat.

In order to avoid undercooking or overcooking the pork ribs, you will want to monitor them so they are cooked evenly. When the ribs are fully cooked, there will be a lot of juices flowing out from the bones, and the meat will start to pull away from the ends.

When the meat starts to pull away from the end of the bones, you will be able to remove the ribs from the barbecue and start eating them! In barbecue terminology, this is called “falling off the bone.” You will want to use a pair of tongs or a fork to retrieve the cooked ribs and serve them.

Weber SmokeFire Pellet Grill Review TEST

Grilling up some delicious barbecue ribs is one of those things that’s hard to get wrong. But it's also hard to get it just right if you don't know how. Even cooking on a gas grill you can have trouble.

In this video, I'm using the Weber Smokey Mountain which is a large smoker/grill that can be used to cook a lot of different things. It's a vertical smoker, so it allows for different levels of foods. You start the fire on one level and it burns up the house. You start it on another level and it doesn't burn up the house. That's the vertical smoker.

This barbecue rib recipe is fairly simple. It's super tasty, which is what you want from ribs. If you're going to cook ribs, you might as well make them the best they can possibly be. The bbq rib recipe is juicy and tender. The barbeque sauce is a sweet, tangy one. In this video, I show how to get your Weber Smokey Mountain barrel smoker up to temperature for cooking the barbecue ribs.