Grilling Baby Back Ribs


Grilling baby back ribs takes a little patience, but the flavor of ribs from the grill is one of many people’s favorite ways to enjoy baby back ribs. (And, undeniably, some people may argue should be the ONLY way to cook ribs!)

The first thing to consider when grilling ribs is what type of grill you plan on using. There are many different grill styles to choose from and learning what type is best for your grilling and barbecue needs will help make your purchase a worthwhile investment that you use on a regular basis. There are two basic types of grills: Gas grills which use propane, and charcoal grills which use charcoal as a heat source. Many people ask “how do I grill baby back ribs on a Weber grill?” since Weber is one of the most popular grill brands – however it doesn’t matter so much whether your grill is Weber but if it is a gas grill or a charcoal grill!

The good news is you can make them on just about any type of grill. The only thing that will be different is the technique you use to grill your ribs and the setup of the grill itself!

Using a Gas Grill to Cook Ribs:
If you are cooking on a gas grill, there is one important trick that will help keep your ribs from drying out too quickly: you will want to place a pan of water in between the flame and the meat. This helps keep moisture inside the grill and keeps the meat from drying out and losing its tenderness. You can use a disposable aluminum pan and place it below the grate, or if your grill is not set up to do that, you’ll want to place the pan on top of the grate and then a second grate to put the meat above the water. If you have a gas grill where you can control the temperature, you’ll want to try and keep it around 225 degrees. Some people will add wood chips and pellets to get the smoke flavor they like.

Using a Charcoal Grill to Cook Ribs:
If cooking on a charcoal grill, you will want to set it up slightly differently and you will need two disposable aluminum pans for holding water. On one side of the grill you want to place your charcoal coals, and on the second side a pan of water. Then place the grate on top of this. You will then put a second pan of water on top of the coals and cook the meat above the pan of water on the bottom. This is the best way to ensure your ribs do not get dried out or lose their tenderness, since the water helps you cook the ribs with indirect heat. If this sounds kind of confusing the diagram below might help you understand better:

Now that your grill is all set up, you’re ready to get cooking! Here’s a step by step guide on how to grill baby back ribs:

You Will Need:
Baby Back Ribs, membranes removed
Your favorite dry rib rub
Barbecue Sauce if desired
Aluminum Foil


1. Prepare Your Ribs: On the bottom side of baby back ribs is a thin membrane that you’ll want to remove before cooking. Many stores already have this removed, or if they have an in-house butcher you can request the butcher remove it for you. Once that is gone, The best way to give ribs a great flavor is to rub them with a mixture of seasonings and then let them marinate refrigerated for several hours or overnight if possible. You’ll really want to rub the seasonings in to get the maximum flavor. Using a dry rib rub recipe can give you an idea of how to season the meat.

2. Heat Up Your Grill: Before you start cooking, you will need to get your grill ready and set up as detailed above depending on what type of grill you are using. A gas grill typically only needs a few minutes to warm up. A charcoal grill will be ready to cook on when the coals are white. While the grill is heating up, you’ll want to bring your ribs out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.

3. Place the Ribs on the Grill: You will want to place the ribs on the grill and allow to cook for about 2 hours, checking on them every half hour or so to make sure that there is still water in the pans and that they are not burning out or drying up. Since they are being cooked with indirect heat, there is really no need to flip them, but you may if you are concerned that one side is being cooked more than the other.

4. BBQ Sauce Time: When the ribs seem like they are close to being done (You can tell by poking it with a fork, or the best way is to use a meat thermometer – they’re done at about 155 degrees), if you want to add barbecue sauce you can do it now which will help give it a great flavor. All you will need to do is baste it on each side and continue basting it until the ribs seem done. Then remove your ribs from the grill and serve them up with your favorite side dishes and more sauce if desired.

5. Dig in and Enjoy!

Note: Another way of grilling baby back ribs, which is kind of a “cheating” way of doing it is to first cook baby back ribs in the oven and then bring them out on the grill for 15 minutes or so and baste them with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Do you have any other tips on grilling baby back ribs? Have you made some delicious using this set up? Share them in the comments below!


14 thoughts on “Grilling Baby Back Ribs

  1. Wow… All I can say is Mmm-Mm Good! FINGER LICKING DOWN TO THE BONE!! MY Girlfriend brought my baby back ribs and I wanted to cook them the best I could on my new charcoal master grill. I did not want to mess them up at all. So I turned to your recipe on line, I tried it out and that’s all she wrote! THANK YOU VERY MUCH YOUR ADVISE VERY WELL ACCEPTED (In ATL)

  2. Neat website. I put a large pan with some water on the right side, coals on the left. I never thought of adding another water pan directly over the coals to help control the temperature (and moisture level) further. My grill is the 26 3/4″ Weber. I actually have Weber’s 18 1/2″ smoker, too, but I’ll try smoking ribs another day 🙂

  3. I just tried this recipe, having never grilled ribs before. They were freaking de-lic-ous!

  4. After marinading in dry rub,I pre-roast my baby back ribs in the crock pot on low for a few hours(do not overcook or they will fall off the bone), this helps them to remain tender, and flavorful and precook them so I do not have to spend hours at the grill. I have served them this way for years, to as many as 20 people at a time and have always received rave reviews!! I have 5 slabs in the 2 crock pots right now. When serving a lot of slabs I start this method the day before and refrigerate and just grill them up in 15 – 20 mins. some with Sweet Baby Rays sauce some without as they love them both ways. My point is I have lots of time on the day of to entertain and cook side dishes. Happy Eating….love love love your site and info.

  5. I know this post is rather old but can anyone tell me if the ribs are put directly on the grill or do I use aluminum foil? I have some ribs in the fridge That I have been marinating overnight and I want to cook them tonite. I waht to use this method but just want clarity on the foil or no foil. I notice on the things you need list he has foil listed but no details in the directions.

  6. going to try this.never cooked ribs before.this sounds like a good way to do alot of other ways to do it.indirect heat just makes more since.will tell u how they turn out.thanks.

  7. Hi Justin,

    It is really a matter of preference – I suggest using foil just because it makes for quick cleanup and less likely the ribs will fall down the grate. 🙂

  8. I have a small charcoal grill- cooking my first rack of ribs -can u tell me how???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.