Ready to cook any of the required grilled meats? Perfectly smoked ribs are delicious and full of flavor. Thanks, you don’t need a grill to make them. So smoke ribs on your gas grill.
Barbecue ribs remain a mainstay in the competitive barbecue circuit, and it’s not hard to see why. When done right, there aren’t many meats that come out as wonderfully tender, delicate, and insanely delicious as ribs.
The problem with ribs, however, is that as delicious as they are, they can also go wrong very easily. I’ve seen many examples of ribs that come out dry, mushy, and chewy.
For this reason, a good rack of ribs is the hallmark of a good grill master. If you’re good at this, then you’re well on your way to becoming a seasoned pro.
Check out our Texas Style Baby Back Ribs recipe
BBQ smokers and charcoal grills remain the tools of choice for most BBQ masters. It lends itself perfectly to the kind of slow, slow cooking that is so necessary when smoking from the grill. However, what you may not know is that you can easily convert your gas grill into more than a powerful smoking tool.
In today’s guide, I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know to cook up beautifully tender ribs using nothing more than your humble gas grill.
First, let’s look at the types of ribs YOU will need.
How to buy good ribs
Pork ribs are available at almost every market or supermarket and can be viewed anywhere. However, there are two different types of pork ribs that you should know about so you can be sure you’re getting the best ones for your grill.
Also known as back ribs or sometimes even loin ribs, they are taken from the top of the rib cage and are located between the pork ribs and the gyrus.
Baby back ribs are meatier than pork ribs, making them a great choice for many barbecue fans. However, they take less time to cook, so they can be a great option when cooking for a large group of people who need to please each other quickly.
Sometimes referred to as side ribs, they are taken from the rib cage near the abdomen and below the baby’s back ribs. These contain less meat than baby back ribs but more fat, making them perfect for grilling.
St Louis style ribs
These are actually replacement ribs, but with the cartilage, rib tips, and sternum removed. This trimmed cut is more square in shape than other styles, making St. Louis-style smoked ribs a coveted choice for pitmasters on the racetrack.
How to cook barbecue ribs
To start, we need to wash and cut the meat to get it ready for smoking. Start by rubbing the ribs under cold running water, washing away any fat or bits of bone that can sometimes float to the surface of the meat. Then pat dry with kitchen paper.
Use meat shears or a knife to trim any loose chunks or streaks of fat from the meat. This is important because if you leave them on, they could burn as the ribs cook, leaving unsightly charred or greasy bits of meat in the food.
Perhaps one of the most important steps here is removing the membrane. This is a hard layer of fat that sits on the underside of the ribs. This is important as the fat could melt or dissolve during cooking, making the meat tough and sometimes even inedible.
For full removal instructions, SEE my Rib Membrane Removal Guide .
How to marinate ribs
Of course, this is n’t an absolutely necessary step, and many people enjoy cooking ribs without marinating them at all. However, I like to make it neat because it’s another opportunity to bring out the flavor of the meat even more.
Thanks, it’s very easy to do. Just follow this recipe and mix together brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rum, chilli sauce, garlic and dry mustard. Once well mixed, brush the ribs with the marinade on both sides and soak for an hour or in the refrigerator overnight.
Use a dry massage
Barbecue seasonings are essential because they help add a crunchy texture to the outer layer of the food. Barbecue seasonings are very easy to prepare. Everyone has their own favorite dressing recipe, but I like to use my BBQ Pork Dressing. You can follow that or buy Rub purchased from an online store or supermarket.
Once the dressing is ready, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and pat dry with a paper towel. Apply a generous amount of rub to both sides of your ribs. Wrap it in aluminum foil and then place it in the fridge for another hour.
How to smoke ribs on a gas grill
This post is specifically about using a gas grill as the setup is different than a traditional smoker or charcoal grill.
Smoking a grill on a grill requires the generation of indirect heat , so we generate heat at one end of the grill and place the food at the other. The heat then creates room temperature on the grill and cooks the food like in an oven without exposing it to direct heat. This is the best way to cook ribs.
How do you grill indirectly on a gas grill?
Most good gas grills allow you to control the burners, which means you can turn some burners off and leave others on. For example, if you have a good 2-burner gas grill , you can light one burner and place the meat over the other burner on your grill.
Since you’re trying to achieve a target cooking temperature of 107°C(225°F), this will require some adjustment, so some adjustment is needed.
Place your wood chips in your smoker box, then place the box over one of your activated burners. Turn up the burner and close the lid of your grill. Wait for smoke to rise from the grill, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
Discover the best wood for smoking ribs here
Check the internal temperature of your grill and set the ribs on an idle burner once it reaches 250F.
Your wood chips may burn during cooking, but don’t add more. Your ribs will absorb a lot of smoke during cooking, so avoid exposing them any more.
Using a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar, spray some of the substance onto the surface of the ribs. Do this every 30 minutes. This will prevent the ribs from drying out as they cook.
Smoke for 4 to 5 hours, or 6 to 7 hours if using a St Louis cut. Brush a thick layer of BBQ sauce over the top of the ribs about 20-30 minutes before cooking.
How do you know when ribs are done?
Unlike other types of meat, you can’t use a meat thermometer to tell when the ribs are done. The meat tends to be too thin, and where it’s thick enough to be capable of, it doesn’t adequately reflect the condition of the meat in other parts of the ribs.
Luckily, there are 3 easy ways to know when the expense is ready :
- Use a toothpick. Insert a toothpick between two bones along the grid. Selection must be able to occur without resistance.
- Cut through the thickest part of the flesh and look for the pink juice. If there isn’t one then you’re good to go.
- Cut the bone off the end of the grill and taste to see if it’s done.
How to smoke with wood chips on a gas grill
The best way to take grilled smoking to the next level is by using wood shavings.
To do this, you need to invest in a smoker box . These are small steel boxes containing burning wood chips. They then sit on the grates of your grill while the smoke they give off adds extra flavor to your meat. They’re usually fairly inexpensive(around $20-25) and durable enough to last at least a few years.
Please that we want to put the chips in a smoker box, so they will last longer and give out a stronger smoke. If you put them directly on the burner, they will burn quickly and create a lot of ash, creating a poor cooking environment.
Alternatively, you can use aluminum foil. However, I wouldn’t recommend this because I just don’t find it as safe or as durable as using a custom built smoke box.
Should you remove wood chips before using a gas grill?
Be sure to check out my wood chip removal guide here .
Many people advise removing wood chips before smoking to reduce the risk of burns. You can simply do this in water or be a bit more adventurous and toast them in wine, beer or fruit juice for added flavor. If you choose the latter, die at least an hour beforehand, then drain and dry on a drying rack.
Place your dry chips in your smoker box, then transfer them to your gas grill. Lay over the burner you wish to light. Set your burner to full heat and wait until you see smoke coming out of the box or grill. As soon as you see smoke, turn the heat down to medium and use your thermometer to set your grill to a target smoking temperature of 107°C(225°F).
What is the 3-2-1 method for ribs?
Because ribs tend to dry out when smoked, the 3-2-1 rib method tries to keep as much moisture in the meat as possible.
With this method, the meat is typically smoked for three hours before being wrapped in aluminum foil and smoked for two hours. It is then smoked unpacked for a final hour.
The reason this is considered an effective cooking method is because it allows the ribs to absorb the aromas and flavors of the smoke for the first three hours, while the two hours in foil allow the meat to steam and become more earthy. The last hour lets it form a crust that rounds it off nicely.