How to Cook Ribs Perfectly

This is the best rib recipe, especially when you’re feeding a crowd! The ribs are slow-cooked in the oven (hack!). Then just before serving, they’re sauced and grilled to heat through and get a bit of that gorgeous grill flavor.

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.

Once they’re cooled, cut them into portions and sauce them and put them in the fridge. When it’s nearly time to eat, put them on the grill to heat through and get a bit of that delicious grill flavor. Super easy. 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 and my own sauce. Here is my favorite classic recipe, and my smokey and spicy recipe.  If you’re feeling lazier, skip the homemade rub and skip the homemade sauce too! Go in with a bottle of your favorite store-bought. The ribs are so good that nobody is going to notice.

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

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

Here’s the printable instructions for my deliciously perfect rib recipe!


How to Cook Ribs Perfectly

  • Author: Allie McDonald
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 HOURS 10 MINUTES
  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6


This is the best rib recipe, especially when you’re feeding a crowd! The ribs are slow-cooked in the oven (hack!). Then just before serving, they’re sauced and grilled to heat through and get a bit of that gorgeous grill flavor.


  • 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
  • 23lb 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 – Here is my favorite classic recipe, and my smokey and spicy recipe


  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.
This post was published in July 2012 and was updated in July 2019.
How to Cook Ribs Perfectly

23 responses to “How to Cook Ribs Perfectly”

  1. Sue says:

    I have used your recipe before and loved it. I just made 20 lbs of ribs for my husbands birthday party and did not want to spend the evening at the grill. I grilled them at 4p and then placed some of the drippings in the bottom of a pan and then a wire rack so the ribs would not be sitting in the liquid. Placed the grilled and lightly sauced ribs on the rack, covered tightly with foil and put them in a 250 degree oven. I served them around 7-730p and they were perfect!! Moist and tender…a big hit! Thank you!

  2. Warren Taylor says:

    I was not able to find what to do with the cooking liquid that is poured after cooking and before refrigerating the ribs.

    thank you

  3. Natascha says:

    I attempted this and the chicken to prepare for our 4th of July party….
    The chicken turned out perfect…but my ribs are super tough…even hard to cut through…I pulled the membranes, did the rub, put in fridge over night, and slow cooked for 2 hours at 300 degrees….
    Any ideas what went wrong??

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Natascha, I have no idea what went wrong. I do this method for ribs all the time and they are very very tender. The 2 hour slow cooking time should make them tender for sure. I can’t think what could have happened.

  4. Rose says:

    Hi, do you think I could do the reheating portion of this in the oven as well, under the broiler? We don’t have a grill so I usually bake the ribs in foil packets low and slow, then unwrap and finish them with the convection one under the broiler. Do you think it would work with a day or two between?

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Rose, I think it would work. My only concern is that if the ribs are too close to the heat source they will blacken before they are heated through. So either keep them far from the burners or warm them in the oven or microwave first before broiling them. Great idea!

  5. MaryAnne says:

    Have you tried freezing the ribs after you bake them then hauling them out a couple of months later to finish them on the grill?

    • Christine Pittman says:

      MaryAnne, I haven’t frozen them for a couple of months but definitely for a couple of weeks. I baked them and then sauced them and cooled them. Then I put them in a freezer bag and frozen them. I defrosted them in the fridge overnight and then heated and charred them on the grill before serving.

  6. Diana says:

    When making ribs or chicken ahead of time, do you want to take them out of the over a little underdone so they don’t over cook when you reheat?

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Diana, actually, with both my ribs and my make ahead chicken recipe, the meat is slow-cooked and cooked past the minimum recommended temperature. The ribs are cooked for a good couple of hours. The chicken drumsticks for an hour. They are both very juicy at that point. Then they spend such a short time on the grill that it doesn’t make them overcooked. In fact, you’re really just heating them through. They’ll be really juicy and perfect. Great question!

  7. […] make-ahead food when we host parties. For our Memorial Day BBQ I slow-cooked ribs in the oven (like these) and I slow-cooked chicken drumsticks in the oven too (recipe coming soon!). Then Graz took the […]

  8. […] complete our Canada Day meal we’ll be grilling, of course. We’re doing some ribs and corn on the […]

  9. Katie says:

    These look and sound amazing. I can’t wait to give these a try!!!

  10. Jen says:

    I love that! Ribs are good. That is all… that might need to be my new motto for cookies!

    • Christine Pittman says:

      For me, ribs beat cookies every time. But then I don’t have that much of a sweet tooth, more of a protein tooth. I could totally say, “Cheese is good. That is all.” Now, if the cookies had bacon in them…

  11. Michelle says:

    You are making these for our next BlogCon meetup, yes??? Kidding :) Although I will reimburse you for the meat if you make this happen!

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Great idea!!! Ribs are a super-easy thing to make for a group. No need to reimburse. Just bring some wine ;).

  12. Frieda says:

    OMG! I love ribs! Great link on removing the membrane. Fun to see your method. We’ve boiled them in the past as our first step but I must confess we don’t make them very often. I’m looking forward to your recipe and baking in lieu of the boil.

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Ahhh…we often boil them in the winter. We then braise them in BBQ sauce to finish them off. But if they’re heading for the grill, then we bake them. I think baking them retains more flavor (less ends up left in the water) though and so I think this winter I’m going to bake then braise instead of boil then braise. Worth trying anyhow!

  13. The Mrs says:

    “Ribs are good. That’s all.”

    I’m dying over here. Also, you finally clued me into what to do with the leftover rib drippings…after two years of wondering (I’m a recent rib convert).

    • Christine Pittman says:

      :). As much as I love ribs, I sometimes make them just because the next day I get leftover’s soup with the drippings in it. Seriously, “soup” IS the answer to everything (or at least everything that doesn’t already have “bacon” as the answer).

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