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Grilling spare ribs

So, I have two racks of pork spare ribs, sitting in their rub, in my fridge. I plan to cook them on low heat tomorrow for dinner with guests. In the past, I have always cooked baby backs, but my husband wanted spare ribs this time. I intend on cooking them on the grill - thankfully NYC weather will cooperate tomorrow. So, I will be cooking them on low heat, but how long for spare ribs?????

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  1. I'm curious about the responses you get. I tried then a couple of weeks ago for the first time too, but did the actual cooking in the oven before finishing them on the grill. They were good, but I'd love more guidance.

    1. I cook baby back and spare ribs both all the time. Now smoking is a whole different subject. For me ... I always cook in the oven first, slow and for a long period until they get very tender. Then towards the ends I put on the grill with sauce. But I know there are many many methods.

      I have had many great ribs, all done differently, but I still come back to oven then grill. I use a way I learned from a few folks over in the everglades taught me which is a beer bath. Not soaking in it but a slight rub on the ribs and then some beer in the pan, covered and cooked 325 for 3 hours. Remove and finish on the grill. But as I said ... many recipes.

      Personally, unless smoking, I don't like cooking them on the grill the whole time. But again ... many many recipes and techniques. Good luck

      5 Replies
      1. re: kchurchill5

        I feel vindicated and less foolish in my decision to oven cook then finish on the grill.

        1. re: kchurchill5

          I like this one.

          Do you baste them on the grill with the juices that are in the bottom of roasting pan?? Defatted of course.

          DT

          1. re: Davwud

            It is pretty basic, but always good. I rub the meat good with s/p, garlic powder and a little paprika. Let set over night if possible, just to give it some extra flavor. Then for the baking about 1/2-3/4 bottle of beer for a 13x9 pan, 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, and 1 onion cut in chunks. Then layer the ribs in a single layer and bake at 325 covered is what I like best. After about 3 hours they will be fork tender but not falling apart yet :)

            Transfer to the grill, cook for a couple of minutes per side to dry a bit and then baste with your favorite sauce. Just a few minutes on the grill is all it takes. I never tell anyone what sauce to use because I have many favorites and their are thousands of recipes. The ribs will be moist and fall off the bone.

            1. re: kchurchill5

              kc, thanks so much for posting this. having tried various times to cook spareribs on the grill, I was going to give up on cooking ribs at home. But yesterday I tried your oven then grill method and the results were fabulous! Moist, falling off the bone tender and great flavor. The only change I made was I cooked the ribs at 310 degrees, and after 2.5 hours they were just a wee bit more cooked than I would have liked for finishing on the grill. But nevertheless, thank so you so much for sharing this, I'm so glad to be able to make them at home.

              1. re: janniecooks

                Glad you like them, they always come up good. Hope the weather cooperated it did for us too.

        2. The things is....that I have baby backs down pretty well. But I think, can't remember to be sure, but I think I tried spare ribs once and they came out tougher than I like. I guess I am just wondering if I should cook spare ribs longer/slower or somewhat differently than I would baby backs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Justpaula

            I usually found yes, they do take longer, but I never set a particular time because it is always different on the size of the racks. I still like to cook around 3 hours, but it does vary. I'm never comfortable telling someone a particular time because the size of the racks, oven temp, pans are different, but I like to stick with around 3 hours and usually they are very tender. I like to check after 2 1/2, and I can usually see how far along they are. Usually about another 1/2 to 1 hr and then are almost falling apart and that is when I like to put them on the grill. I just lightly dry them out and put a nice sauce on them and then serve. They have always fell off the bone. I know a lot as jpsedixit cook much lower temps. I never found that to work well, but some swear by that which is fine. Like I said, hundreds of recipes.

          2. Use the 3-2-1 method.

            3 hours unwrapped at 225, 2 hours foiled at 225 and then 1 hour unwrapped at 225.

            1. I have to agree with Kchurchill, oven for 3 hour or so depending rack size and then sauce, caramelize on the grill. I use one of those big foil roasting pans for this. Some rub some sort of liquid and cook at 300 – 325. The time will vary depending on the meat. I look at the bones, when the meat starts pulling back about ¼ inch from the bone, I’d say they were done. Easy test, just taste a piece, you may be tempted eat them all at this point. Be careful you don’t want them falling apart before grilling. They get very messy on the grill if over cooked, lesson learned here. Good Luck

              1 Reply
              1. re: TimCarroll

                I think we have the same recipe, LOL

                Falling apart on the grill. I know that one well too! Lesson learned!

              2. Spare ribs are going to be tougher no matter what. They are just not quite as tender as baby backs.

                As for the method, I'm another vote for the oven then grill, if you're not going to smoke them all the way.

                1. i think a combo of grill and oven is dandy---but i like: smoke/oven/finish. if you have a smoker--well, then, you don't care about this. for those with regular kettle grills, i'd suggest a low, indirect heat with wood chips for, say, 2 hrs. then cover them in foil and cook in a low oven for 2-3 more. it is a slight pain in the pants, but finishing the ribs over a med-hi grill does wonders for the sauce--though you could generate appropriate color inside if a second fire seems daunting. honestly, if effort is an issue, i'd rather give up the grill finish than the first turn in the covered kettle.

                  if the meat is cooked to doneness in the oven right off, it won't take in smoke flavor. you might get some smoke taste into the sauce, but likely not the meat.

                  btw, unless your buthcher prepared the ribs "st louis" style, most spare ribs need some trimming before they go on the grill.

                  1. Sorry for the late response and thanks yous, but I have been away from Chowhound for a while. As it turned out, our propane was very, very low and as we currently do not have a car, I had no choice but to cook them in the oven. And after sitting in their rub for a night and being slow cooked (225) for several hours, they came out very tender. I have to admit I was surprised. My last and only previous experience with spare ribs turned out tough meat. But these were so tender. My intention was to finish them on the grill but they were already a bit in the falling apart stage so they were completed in the oven. Everyone loved them!! Thank you all for your advice. And those of you who suggested oven cooking, right on!