Learning how to grill spare ribs is not as hard or difficult as it may seem. Grilling spare ribs is much like grilling baby back ribs, except you are using a different cut of meat.
Baby back ribs are taken from the top part of the ribs along the back and are smaller in size. Spare ribs typically refer to the bottom of the pork ribs just above the belly and are usually larger in size. Spare ribs are usually meatier, but preparing spare ribs is not that much different from grilling baby back ribs.
Many people ask before they get started in cooking pork on the grill is if they should boil ribs first. There are many reasons why someone may want to do this (namely to save time!) but if you want to make the most flavorful tender ribs the secret is not to boil them (which zaps out all of the flavor from the pork meat) but to cook them very, very, slowly, whether in the oven or on a gas or charcoal grill.
If you want to make some of the best spare ribs ever, you’ll want to first make sure you have set up your grill properly. For spare ribs you’ll want to set up your gas or charcoal grill so that the meat is not directly over the flame. The secret to getting nice tender pork spare ribs that do not dry out is to add a pan of water underneath the grill. (Read out post on grilling baby back ribs for detailed explanation of setting up your grill).
Here are Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Grill Spare Ribs:
1. Prepare Your Spare Ribs: Preparing the meat is an important step for maximum flavor and tenderness. You will want to make sure that the bottom white membrane of the ribs has been removed, and if it has not been done so by your butcher you will want to do this before anything else. There are many different methods available for preparing spare ribs – some people prefer to marinade them in a barbecue or braising sauce, others prefer using a dry rib rub recipe. Rubbing the seasonings into the meat and allowing it to marinade for several hours or overnight will give it some great flavor.
2. Prepare the Grill: When you are ready to cook your ribs, you will want to make sure you grill is properly set up. If you are cooking on a gas weber grill for example, you will want to make sure that you have placed a pan of water underneath the grate (or on the top grate with another grate above the water to cook the ribs on). If you are using a charcoal grill, you’ll want to place the charcoal to one side with a pan of water beside it. You’ll be grilling directly over the water – not the charcoal. The grill temperature should be around 200-225 degrees – if you are using charcoal this can be tricky. You want to keep it constant though, that is the most important thing.
3. Cook the Ribs: Place your spare ribs on the grill and allow to cook for anywhere from 2 – 3 hours. Spare ribs, because they are larger, typically take a little bit longer to cook than baby back ribs. You may wish to cook the ribs in a foil pan or on top of foil to save it from sticking to the grates on the grill.
4. Add Sauce if Desired: If you want to barbecue your ribs, you’ll want to start basting the spare ribs with sauce and cook for about 5 minutes each side to be careful to avoid them from burning. Once the ribs are done and you are ready to serve them, you can also top with additional sauce if desired.
5. Enjoy Your Grilled Spare Ribs!
Have any tips or favorite recipes on how to grill spare ribs? Share it in the comments below!