Barbecue spare ribs are a classic and delicious choice for grilling. To make really good barbecue spare ribs on the grill, follow these steps and tips. Remember, cooking ribs on the grill requires patience and attention to detail. Experiment with different rubs and sauces to find your preferred flavor profile.
Start with Quality Ribs
Look for meaty, well-marbled spare ribs with a good balance of fat and meat. Spare ribs come from the lower part of the rib cage and have more connective tissue, which gives them a rich flavor when cooked low and slow.
Rub for Flavor
Create a flavorful dry rub by combining your favorite herbs, spices and seasonings. Common ingredients include brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper. Generously coat the ribs with the dry rub, massaging it into the meat to ensure even coverage. Let the ribs sit in the rub for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight for a more intense flavor.
Preheat and Prepare the Grill
Preheat your grill to low heat, around 225-250°F. If using a charcoal grill, set up indirect heat by placing the coals on one side of the grill and the ribs on the other. For a gas grill, only turn on one or two burners and place the ribs on the unlit side. You want to cook the ribs slowly and indirectly to achieve tender meat.
Place the ribs on the grill, bone side down, away from direct heat. Close the lid and let the ribs cook slowly for about 4-6 hours, depending on the thickness of the ribs. You can add wood chips or chunks to the grill to infuse a smoky flavor. Maintain a consistent temperature and avoid opening the lid too often to retain the heat.
Baste and Glaze
After about 2-3 hours of cooking, start basting the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Use a silicone brush or mop to apply the sauce, turning and basting the ribs every 30 minutes. Allow each layer of sauce to caramelize before adding more. This process creates a sticky, flavorful glaze on the ribs.
Use a Meat Thermometer
To check if the ribs are done, use the bend test. Pick up the ribs with tongs and gently bounce them. If the meat starts to crack on the surface and the ribs bend easily, they are ready. Alternatively, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches around 195-203°F.
Rest and Serve
Once the ribs are done, remove them from the grill and let them rest for about 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in tender and juicy meat. Cut the ribs between the bones into individual servings and serve them hot with additional barbecue sauce on the side.