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Grilled BBQ ribs that are perfectly tender and mildly spicy will become a summer cookout staple. Low and slow is the key to consistently tender ribs on the gas grill.
The secret to perfectly tender ribs, regardless of where they are cooked, is to slowly and gently. Simple oven-baked ribs are delectable. These should be reserved for a rainy day.
Even though it’s challenging to achieve an authentic barbecue flavor on a gas grill, there are some tricks you can use to cook ribs on a gas grill.
In this example, a full rack of trimmed spareribs will take between 1 1/2 and 2 hours to cook. However, the cooking time per stage must be reduced by about 5 minutes if using baby back ribs.
What You Will Require
Due to the indirect cooking method, your gas grill must have at least two burners and be large enough to accommodate the rack of ribs on one side while leaving room on the other. The heat source will be on the opposite side of the grill from the rack of ribs.
To grill ribs, you’ll need the following tools and ingredients:
- Fuel for your gas grill
- 1 rack of pork spareribs
- Sharp knife
- Good rib rub
- Wood chips or chunks for smoke
- Aluminum foil
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) apple juice
- Good barbecue sauce for ribs
Prepare the Rib Rack
It is uncommon to find properly prepared store-bought spareribs. Before cooking, you will need to perform some basic trimming. Ideally, you want a rack of ribs that is square in shape and uniform in thickness throughout. Inspect the ribs thoroughly and remove any loose pieces of meat, fat, or bone.
Remove any excess scraps or fat from the rack but be careful not to remove all the fat; only the thicker sections should be removed. Because these ribs are cooked more quickly than in a smoker, the fat benefits are diminished. While fat is necessary to keep the meat moist, you do not want an overly fatty finished product. After trimming is complete, rinse the rack of ribs under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Rub the Ribs
After trimming and rinsing the ribs, it’s time to apply the rub. A good rib rub enhances the flavor of the meat without overpowering it. Distribute the rub evenly across the meat, including the back and front and the sides and ends. Apply as much rub as will stick, wiping away any excess. The natural moisture in the ribs will retain all the rubs.
You can apply the rub up to an hour before cooking begins, but any longer will alter the texture of the meat, imparting a ham-like flavor and texture. If you need to return the rack to the refrigerator after applying the rub, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and gently handle it. Ideally, grill the ribs within 10 to 20 minutes of using the rub.
Produce Smoke Bombs
A significant challenge is proper smoke production on a gas grill while cooking at lower temperatures. While you can add a hint of smoke to these ribs, they will not have a strong smoke flavor.
That is the price of ribs cooked on a gas grill. You could also incorporate a couple of smoke bombs to create smoke. This is a simple, quick, and inexpensive method for creating smoke on a gas grill.
Begin by arranging approximately 1/2 cup of damp, but not wet, wood chips on a sheet of foil. Wrap the wood chips in a single layer of foil on one side. Prick several holes in the foil to allow the smoke to escape. Place the smoke bombs beneath the cooking grate as close to the burner as possible to achieve indirect heat.
Grill the Ribs
The location of the ribs on the grill is critical. You need indirect heat to cook ribs without drying them out or overcooking them. The objective is to reach up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius temperatures.
If you have a grill with front-to-back burners, you must use one of the burners on either end. Assume you’re cooking on the left side burner. This requires you to directly over this burner with your smoke bombs (and under the cooking grate).
To the right of the hot burner, place the ribs on the grate. If the rack of ribs is short enough to run parallel to the burners, position it near but not directly over the hot burner. Otherwise, you may need to place it more diagonally on the grill, which will require occasionally rotating the rack of ribs to ensure even cooking.
Arrange the rib rack bone-side down on the grill, close the lid, and adjust the grill to maintain a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit/150 degrees Celsius.
Allow 30 minutes for the ribs to cook. Avoid opening the lid, as keeping it closed will trap the most smoke possible. Expect a little smoke to billow from the grill, as little smoke will be produced.
Wrap the Ribs
After 30 minutes on the grill, check to ensure that the ribs are browned on all sides. Continue grilling for another 10 to 15 minutes if they appear raw on the surface; otherwise, proceed to the second phase.
By steaming the ribs in apple juice, this step tenderizes them (or another type of liquid). The trick is to tightly wrap the ribs in foil while retaining all the juice inside the packet. After pouring in the apple juice, you want to seal it as completely as possible.
Re-grill the tightly wrapped ribs in the indirect grilling space. Close the lid and raise the grill temperature to approximately 375 F/190 C. The apple juice will boil at this temperature, tenderizing and cooking the ribs quickly.
After 30 minutes of steaming the ribs in foil, reduce the heat to low and unwrap the ribs. They should be mostly cooked at this point, which means they should be more malleable; if you pick up the wrapped rack on one end, it should drop down. If the ribs are not completely browned when you open the foil, close it and continue grilling for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the ribs are ready to continue cooking, preheat the grill to around 250 F/120 C, but no higher than 265 F/130 C. (the burning temperature of sugar). Reposition the ribs in the exact location to finish cooking.
It is entirely up to you whether to add sauce when smoking ribs, but when using a gas grill, it is ideal to use a good barbecue sauce. It imparts authentic barbecue flavor to your ribs and improves the meat’s surface texture.
Multiple coats of barbecue sauce are the key to an excellent sticky rib. The most effective method is to sauce one side of the ribs, cover, and bake for 5 minutes.
Then flip the ribs over and sauce the other side. Continue in this manner for 30 minutes, and you will have a thick layer of barbecue sauce on your chicken. Remove the ribs from the grill five minutes after applying the final coat (at least two coats per side), cut into portions, and serve.
If you cannot obtain apple juice, a variety of other liquids can be substituted. Orange and pineapple juices, as well as various types of stock or broth, also work well. If you’re using a beer bottle, start by adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar: substitute soda or even water for the soda.
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