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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.

            1. I don't have a smoker either, so if I want ribs, I must do them in the oven or grill.

              My technique is pretty easy. I trim the rack then rub with a combination of salt, pepper, brown sugar, thyme and smoked paprika. I find the smoked paprika will help give the meat some smokey flavor, though it isn't quite the same as wood smoke, of course.

              Place on a baking sheet and cook at 225F for 2 hours or until it looks like the meat is starting to shrink from the end of the bones.

              Pull the ribs out and baste with BBQ sauce of your choice. Now, you can either bake another 20-30 min, or broil quickly, or throw the ribs on the grill to finish them off.

              Covering your baking sheet with aluminum foil will aid in the clean up. It is possible to get tasty, tender ribs from the oven.

              1. I'd say yeah, you need a smoker HAHA!
                You can use the wood chips, you can use a smoker box, you can cook low and slow. But REAL BBQ snobbery aside, you can grill pork ribs in many ways and still get tasty results.
                I have a two smokers, a charcoal grill and a gas grill and I don't skoff at any technique, as long as you get the results you're looking for.
                A couple of techniques for a strictly gas grill:
                One is to boil your ribs before grilling them (I KNOW, I KNOW). Place your whole racks in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and continue cooking for 70 minutes. Remove from water (put the rib liquor in the fridge and de-fat the next day for a killer broth) and let cool on a tray. Slather on your favorite homemade or store bought (I KNOW, I KNOW) bbq sauce and grill on high, caramalizing the sauce (turn often and slather more sauce until you get nice color).
                Not "real Q", but fall-off-the-bone tender, and tasty.
                You can also grill a rack raw. My mother-in-law always did this with very tasty results: marinade the rack in soy sauce and Montreal Steak Spice for 60-120 minutes (I find they get too salty if done overnite). Slap them on the grill and cook on medium, turning often to prevent burning. Careful of flereups (squirt with water).
                Not "real Q" but chewy (satisfyingly so) and really good.
                If you really want MY techniques for smoking, let me know, otherwise, grill away and experiment!
                BTW, let us know your results!

                1 Reply
                1. re: porker

                  Yes, maybe precooking defeats the intention of using the grill for ribs. However, I did some research when I thought I was going to have to serve a large quantity of ribs off one grill. Here's a recipe for oven-cooked, grill-finished ribs that I found very intriguing. I didn't end up trying it though.

                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                2. I've had a hard time getting the smoke box and chips smoking at the right time. Using smoked paprika in my rub helps some with the flavor. Some day I will master the smoke box thing. The biggest trick is keeping the temp in the bbq low enough without having a stray gust of wind blow it out.

                  1. I've experimented with aseveral different ways of cooking ribs, recently I've been smoking them for 1 hour with applewood on a real cheap box store bought smoker with a real good home made rub before I start, then I wrap them in aluminum with my bbq sauce only on the top of the ribs and put them on my gas grill for 1 hour on LOW. You don't get the nice carmelized crust on the ribs but they are definitely fall off the bone delicious. Just did up a rack and mmm, mmm, mmm. I'm having a rib competition at my house in 2 weeks and being the third year I'm doing this I think I may be onto something. Ribs are good fun food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Balexander

                      If you cook slowly on a gas grill; BE CAREFUL, the next time you push the temp up to high. A lot of fat/grease will accumulate on the carbonization shelf during low and slow rib cooking, and it will not burn off. When you put the burners up to high, next time you cook the grease will catch fire and cause a moderate to uncontrollable grease fire depending on how much grease has puddled on the shelf.