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Spare Ribs on Gas Grill

I have a 5 burner gas grill and want to bbq spare ribs next weekend. I don't have a smoker. Do I need one? Does anyone have any techiniques for making great bbq spare ribs in the oven or gas grill (with or without a smoker)?

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  1. Easily done. You're not gonna get any real smoke flavor out of them though. There are a few ways to do these.

    1. Rub yer ribs with whatever you use. Use your gas grill like an oven. Low heat. Top rack. Wood chips in foil or a smoker box? Sure. It's still not gonna be real, smokey, bbq. Your best bet will be to bake on some sauce near the last 20 min of cook time. Ribs will be ready when the meat on the end of the bones shrinks away from the end of the bone. They'll also be "fork tender, and one bone should be pretty easy to twist off.
    Low heat. LOW!

    2. Rub yer ribs with whatever you use. Sear them on high heat on the bottom rack. Both sides. Then turn the heat down low, wrap them in foil with a little bit o sauce, and throw them on the top rack to bake at a low temp. Low heat. LOW!!

    I'd say in either case, your min cook time will be at least 1.5 hrs. LOW HEAT. LOW!!
    Also, remember, you're not gonna get smokey, real bbq ribs, you're going to get more of a roasted pork style rib. Still decent eats, but it's not BBQ.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      Can't agree with your last sentence strongly enough. BBQ is defined as cooking low and slow with real wood fire and smoke. Your method numero 2 will probably result in soft, almost mushy ribs, tho, because they'll be steamed inside the foil.

      1. re: ricepad

        I know a few people who like em that way. They think ribs should be steamed to a "fall off of the bone" state like stew meat. To each his own, I guess.

    2. Yup, I successfully did pork ribs in a gas grill. Hopefully your grill has a temperature gauge - mine does and I kept it between 300 and 325F. I only had the back burner on, and above it a pan filled with water, to help keep things moist inside. I had to add more water part way through. The ribs were towards the front of the grill and I occasionally misted them with some water to keep the surface soft. As suggested by Gordeaux, start with a rub, then finish with a sauce, plus extra on the table for folks to dress the ribs as they like. They will be delicious!

      1. Use the gas grill, indirect heat and also use wood chips. Soak the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes and then wrap in a foil packet (or put in a smoker box). THen pierce a bunch of holes in the foil pouch. Using on the burners one side of the grill, turn them to high and preheat the grill and add the foil packet to those burners for 5 minutes or so, then add your ribs to the other side of the grill that doesn't have the burners on. You are aiming for a grill temp of less than 350 degrees so you may have to adjust the burners either higher or lower depending on your grill and the outside temp (or even put on a second burner,e tc). Then cook for maybe 1 1/2 hours or so or until the meat pulls away from the edges of the ribs. If desired you can replace the foil packet of wood chips every 30-45 minutees. If you like the ribs sauced, you can sauce the ribs when they are fully cooked and then grill over medium high heat turning occasionally for 10-15 minutes to get a nice crispy crust. I personally just like to dry rub my ribs a day in advance and then crisp up the outside over high heat with no sauce.

        1. Agree with the other posters about general techniques; for a rub I usually just use commercial Cajun seasoning, optionally moistening the ribs with orange juice before the spices.

          And definitely with the LOW HEAT requirement. It used to be illegal in some states to cook ribs too fast, and it still should be. I have a 2-burner gas grill and I leave one turned off completely, the other turned down as low as possible. Then I lift the cover every once in a while to let out some heat. Keep it BELOW 300 if possible. 2 or 3 hours cooking time is not unreasonable. For your 5-burner grill I'd use no more than 2 of the burners. Maybe just one. Seriously.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bat Guano

            Yep, low and slow. A good multi-burner gas grill is actually excellent for this - my 3-burner Weber can hold a steady 250° heat level for hours.

            I dry rub the ribs to start and let 'em sit in the fridge for a few hours. To cook them, I turn on the front burner only, put a couple of trays of soaked hickory chips on top of it (below the grill, on top of the "flavorizer bars") put the ribs at the rear, adjust the heat until it's right where I want it, and in 4 - 5 hours I have DEElectable baby backs!

          2. Check out the website for the the show "License to Grill" on Discovery. The guy on that show cooks alot on gas grills, and has a few different recipes for spareribs. He uses tin foil pouches filled with wood chips on the gas grill to get some smoke flavor in the ribs.

            I own a smoker, and use hardwood charcoal, I dont like gas grills, but I have used the above shows marinades, and some of the foil packets with wood chips, and green tea leaves when smoking ribs. Remember the best temp to slowly cook ribs at is @ around 215 - 220 degrees.