Easy Tender Juicy Make-Ahead Ribs

This make-ahead ribs recipe will probably become one of your favorites. The meat is tender, juicy, and loaded with flavor. The fact that you can make them ahead to save time is “extra sauce on the side”.

Ribs are good. Make-ahead ribs are even better.

I love making them when we’re having friends over. The amazing thing about them is that you have to make them ahead. Ribs need to be cooked long and slow. So you get them ready well before your friends come over. The day before or the day before that.

Then you cut them into portions, brush them with sauce and put them on the grill for a few minutes. Super-easy. The best thing is that you’re not having to worry about raw meat at your party, “Did I cross-contaminate? Is it still under cooked?? Did I overcook it???” None of that to worry about. Just stand there warming them up, flipping them occasionally. When there’s a bit of char on the outside, they’re done. Eat!

It’s all about the texture, which is subjective. I like mine with meat hugging the bone just enough to not fall off when getting a toasty sauce-crust on the grill. Once you get the texture down you can play around with the flavors to your heart’s content. For this recipe, I used my own rub, but a bottled sauce. If you’re feeling even lazier, skip the homemade rub and use ¼ cup Montreal Steak Seasoning mixed with 1 tbsp brown sugar. This recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled. As long as you have space in your oven and on your grill, you can make it for as many people as you’d like.

Of course, homemade BBQ sauce is pretty darned tasty, too.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

If you like the idea of these ribs, you’ll also love this recipe for Make-Ahead Grilled Chicken for a Crowd. It’s the same basic technique but with chicken. And the result is beyond juicy!

Grilled Chicken for a Crowd



Here’s a video from barbecueweb.com showing how to remove the membrane from the bone side of ribs.

Definitely save the juices from the ribs. This liquid is a highly concentrated broth. It is so concentrated that once refrigerated, it will gel. No worries. When it gets warmed up again it will melt.

Here’s what you do:

Pour the juices into a food storage container. Cover and refrigerate. The next day, use a spoon to remove and discard the layer of fat that has risen to the top and solidified. The rest is too good to even begin to describe. I like to mix it with leftover pork meat, leftover diced baked potatoes, a can of diced tomatoes, a squeeze or two of BBQ sauce and some water to make soup. You can also add a bit of it to sauces or gravies. But be careful. It has all that seasoning from your rub so it can be salty and potent. Add just a little at at time and then taste before adding more.

Here’s the recipe for the make-ahead ribs.


Easy Make-Ahead Ribs

This make-ahead recipe may become one of your favorite rib recipes. The meat is tender, juicy, and full of flavor, but you'll spend half the time standing at the grill.


  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 and ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp grown cumin
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3lb racks of baby back ribs or St. Louis Style spare ribs
  • About 9 ounces bottled BBQ sauce. Look for a sweet one that has the word honey or brown sugar in the name


  1. In a small bowl combine the first 7 ingredients.
  2. Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs. If you don't know how to do this, check out the video link under this recipe.
  3. Lay each rack of ribs on a large piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkled each side of each rack with ¼ of the rub mixture. Wrap each rack tightly in the foil making sure the scrunched up folded seam is along the top of the racks. Lay each foil wrapped rack seam side up on another large piece of foil and wrap tightly with the seam along the top again. Place wrapped racks in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Remove the racks from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Put the racks onto a large rimmed baking pan or into a cake pan and put them in the oven. Cook baby backs for 2 hours, St. Louis spare ribs for 2.5 hours.
  5. Remove pan from oven and allow ribs to cool for 1 hour. This sets the juices making it easier to cut the ribs and helping the meat stay on the bone when you grill. Proceed or transfer ribs to the fridge overnight (note that if you want to save the juices as detailed below, you need to unwrap the ribs and capture the juices now before transferring to the fridge).
  6. Carefully unwrap the ribs. Transfer the racks to a cutting board. Pour the accumulated juices into a food storage container. Cover the container and put it in the fridge. See below this recipe for what to do with the juices.
  7. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  8. Cut the ribs into servings with 2-3 bones each. Brush each serving liberally with sauce. Put the ribs on the grill for 5-7 minutes turning occasionally. All you're doing is heating them up and getting a bit of char here and there.
  9. Dig in! See! Ribs are good.