You may think that cooking the perfect rack of ribs on your grill is impossible. It can be extremely intimidating because people have high expectations when it comes to perfect ribs. The pressure is always on to get every detail right. What’s worse is that many people associate ribs with charcoal or wood-fired grills. Everyone knows that gas grills tend to impart less of that desirable, smoky flavor associated with charcoal or wood burning grills. If you have a gas grill, you may feel as though you lack the proper equipment to make perfect ribs. The good news is that you can, in fact, cook the perfect, most tender rack of ribs on your gas grill and impress all of your guests. Here’s how to do it.
Get Set Up
The most important step in creating perfect, moist, tender ribs is setting up your grill. To start, you will need to gather some basic equipment:
- Grill thermometer
- Plenty of fuel/gas
- Thin aluminum pan
- Aluminum foil, or smoker box
- Wood chips
With all your equipment ready, it is time to get your grill set up optimally. Place the thin aluminum pan under half of your grilling surface, below the grate. When fat melts off of the meat, it can cause flare-ups, which produce undesirable charring. This will prevent that from happening. Then, in order to create an environment where your ribs can cook slowly over a long period of time, set your grill burners so that one side receives direct heat, and the other receives indirect heat. Every grill is different, so there isn’t one particular way to do this. The warm side should be stable at about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Having a grill thermometer makes this task much easier. Next, fill your smoker box with wood chips and place it on the side that is receiving direct heat. If you do not have a smoker box, you can make a pouch out of aluminum foil and poke holes in it. Set your smoker box or pouch over the direct heat until smoke begins to form. Put the ignited smoker box on the “indirect heat” side, then start preparing the ribs.
Prepare the Ribs
Your ribs will need some preparation before they can be seasoned and grilled. First, on the smooth side of the ribs, you will find a lining. This lining needs to be removed. Pull it off, from one end to the other. If you have any difficulty, you can use a knife. Next, inspect the ribs for any bone fragments. These seem to be left behind pretty frequently, and they are unpleasant to come across while eating.
Now you are ready to season the ribs. Many people have a dry rub recipe that they keep handy, but if you don’t, that’s okay too! Here is a quick recipe for a flavorful dry rub. Simply mix all of the ingredients listed below and apply thoroughly to all parts of the ribs.
- 8 parts brown sugar
- 3 parts salt
- 1 part chili powder
- ½ part black pepper
- ½ part onion powder
- ½ part garlic powder
Finally, it is time to put those ribs on the grill. You want to cook these ribs at a low temperature for a long period of time. This will ensure perfect, tender ribs that fall off the bone. Start by putting some water in the drip pan that you placed under the grill grate earlier. This will help the grilling area stay moist which keeps the ribs from drying out. Now, place your ribs on the indirectly-heated side of the grill. Do not touch the grill for at least three hours, if not longer. You want the heat to stay steady at 250 degrees. Opening the lid of the grill can cause temperature fluctuations which are less than ideal.
Are They Done Yet?
The hardest part of cooking ribs is knowing when they are done. As mentioned before, all grills are different, so there is no precise timing. Generally, if you are only cooking one rack of ribs, it will take about three hours to reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees. If you cook more than one rack, cooking time could increase to greater than four hours. When the ribs are done, you should notice that the ends of the rib bones are sticking a bit out from the meat. When this happens, use an instant-read thermometer and verify the internal temperature.
Give it a Rest
It is important that any cooked meat has a period of rest before it is served. This allows the meat to reabsorb any juices that may have seeped out. This step ensures tender, juicy meat. For ribs, the ideal resting time is ten minutes. After ten minutes of rest, the ribs are ready to be consumed.