1. Choosing Your Slab
When choosing your ribs, be sure to choose a slab with an even distribution of meat across the bones. You want every bone to have a decent or even amount of meat, so when you cut it, every person gets their share and the entire process feels worth it. Baby back ribs are a good choice because they are typically tender and have a good marbling/fat content.
2. Remove the Membrane
When preparing your ribs for cooking, be sure to remove the layer of membrane with a paper towel, or even pliers to get a good grip. This allows the flavor to thoroughly permeate the meat and ensures you accomplish a nice even cook because the heat is able to effectively penetrate.
3. Rub or Marinade
When prepping your ribs for the cook, it’s your choice on whether you use a rub or marinade. You will develop more and more flavor throughout the cooking process, but whichever method you choose serves as the base for the overall taste of your ribs.
Ribs are versatile when cooking. Many different cooking processes work and will yield delicious results if done right. Whether you choose a stringent 3-2-1 method, indirect or even direct, be sure to commit and figure out which method you like best. Smoking may be the best option for tough, dense cuts of ribs while direct grilling may be more suitable for tender cuts.
5. Keep ‘Em Moist
During the cooking process, it’s a good idea to keep your ribs moist for optimal flavor, texture and moisture. Either mop your ribs with a mop sauce like cider, vinegar, beer or even butter or spritz during your cook. This will impart even more flavor onto your ribs throughout.
6. Don’t Poke It
If you choose to move or flip your ribs throughout the cook when mopping or spritzing, always use tongs when handling. Using a fork, knife or other pointy utensil will puncture the meat releasing built up juices or rendered fat, taking away from those coveted melt-in-your-mouth results.
7. Sauce Last
If you plan to apply any sort of sauce to your ribs, make this the very last step. Saucing in the midst of your cook may impart a burnt taste as the sugar content will burn in the heat of the grill. You also want to keep your ribs evenly cooking through the entire process.
8. Let It Rest
Even though ribs aren’t a massive cut of meat like the brisket or pork shoulder, it’s always a good idea to let the meat rest, especially if you’ve opted to smoke them. This will allow juice within the meat to redistribute and stay locked into the meat to be enjoyed in every single bite. For ribs, 15-20 minutes will suffice for a good resting time.
9. Flip Before You Cut
To ensure you’re cutting your ribs evenly, always flip them over and cut with the bottom facing up, so that you can clearly see the bones and meat in between. This will help ensure each piece is equally divided and delicious, so that everyone will be left satisfied.
10. Practice and Experiment
Ribs are the perfect way to experiment with different flavor profiles, especially when choosing the sauce that you’ll use. You can change it up or find out what you like most and stick to it. If this is your first-time preparing ribs, be sure to practice and take note of things that worked and things you might want to change during your next cook.