Should You Boil Ribs Before Grilling?

There is much controversy over whether you should boil ribs before grilling or cooking ribs in the oven. If you’re asking yourself “Should I Boil Ribs First?” this post is for you.

Many people have boiled them first, thinking this is how the ribs get their tenderness. However, the secret to great tender meat is not boiling it, but to cook it slowly and indirect heat. Naturally, if you place your meat straight over a hot flame in a grill it is going to dry it out and make it not as tender as you would like. In our article grilling baby back ribs you will learn the secret to grilling the perfect fall off the bone ribs without sacrificing flavor. It is all about setting up your grill properly – when cooking ribs on the grill you do not want them anywhere near the direct flame. Placing a shallow aluminum pan of water below them will help you to keep them nice and tender.

The main argument against boiling ribs is that this destroys and ruins all flavor. In many regards this is true. And when you think about boiling your pork ribs it seems very silly in comparison – would you boil hamburgers? Would you boil a steak before cooking it? Most likely not. (Well, at least we hope not!)

The reason boiling the pork beforehand is a bad idea is because the water absorbs all the flavor. If you’ve ever made soup, you know that the broth takes the flavor of whatever is in it, be it chicken, vegetables, or other foods you’ve added to the soup. The same thing happens when you boil your pork ribs. The flavor of the pork goes out and the water goes into the meat. Another disadvantage to boiling ribs is that you cannot flavor them with your favorite rib rub prior to cooking them. This greatly takes away much of the wonderful flavor!

Many people believe that if you boil ribs first before grilling that it will help reduce some of the fat. The truth of the matter is that you WANT that fat on the meat. The fat is what helps it stay nice and tender. If you’ve ever cooked a steak, you’ll know that a nicely marbled steak with little white stripes of fat will be nice and tender whereas a steak without the fat will likely be very tough to chew and not have the same flavor.

The next argument for boiling ribs is that it saves a lot of time. This can be true, especially since you only need to boil them for about 20 minutes and then can finish them up on the grill with some barbecue sauce in another 10 minutes. If you’re short on time, then yes, you could argue that it is acceptable to boil ribs before grilling. And, chances are, they will still be tasty.

But, you also have to consider that buying fresh baby back ribs or pork ribs is also fairly expensive – a single rack of ribs can cost $14 or more depending on where you live and if you have a large crowd to feed the costs really start to add up. This isn’t to say ribs have to be expensive – but if you’re going to spend good money on good meat, then you deserve to give it the time it takes to cook it the right way. The slow, patience demanding way might seem like a pain – but you’ll never want to eat them any other way again!

So, the answer to the question: Should You Boil Ribs First Before Grilling? NO! Not if you can help it at least! Only if you are in a huge hurry and do not mind sacrificing flavor should you boil them!

What are your thoughts on boiling pork before cooking it on the grill? Share your thoughts in the comments below!