How Long To Cook Ribs On Bbq


If you’re a fan of outdoor cooking, there’s nothing quite like the taste of perfectly grilled ribs. However, achieving that ideal combination of smokiness, tenderness, and flavor can be a little tricky. One of the most common questions people ask is how long to cook ribs on the BBQ. The answer isn’t always straightforward, as there are several variables that can affect the cooking time, such as the type of ribs, the heat of your grill, and the cooking method you choose. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to cooking ribs on the BBQ, so you can get great results every time.

Choosing Your Ribs

The first step in cooking ribs on the BBQ is choosing the right cut. There are several types of ribs to choose from, but the most popular cuts are pork spare ribs and beef ribs. Pork ribs are usually smaller and more tender, with a sweeter flavor, while beef ribs are larger and meatier, with a richer taste.

Once you’ve chosen your ribs, it’s important to prepare them properly for cooking. Some people prefer to remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs to improve tenderness, while others leave it intact for additional flavor. Before cooking, make sure to apply a dry rub or marinade to infuse the meat with extra flavor. Let the ribs sit in the rub or marinade for at least an hour, or overnight if possible, to allow the flavors to fully penetrate.

Cooking Method: Direct or Indirect Heat

One of the most important factors in determining how long to cook ribs on the BBQ is the heat source you use. There are two main cooking methods: direct heat and indirect heat.

Direct heat cooking involves placing the ribs directly over the flames or coals on your grill. This method is best for thinner cuts of meat or when you want to achieve a crispy outer crust on your ribs. However, it’s important to watch the ribs carefully when cooking with direct heat, as they can easily burn if left unattended.

Indirect heat cooking involves placing the ribs on the cooler side of the grill, away from the coals or flames. This method is ideal for thicker cuts of meat, as it allows the ribs to cook more evenly without overcooking the outer layer. It’s also a good choice if you want to smoke your ribs, as indirect heat allows you to add wood chips or chunks to create that classic smoky flavor.

Cooking Time and Temperature

The cooking time and temperature for ribs on the BBQ can vary depending on several factors, including the cut of meat, the thickness of the ribs, and the heat source you’re using. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to cook your ribs for anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.

For pork spare ribs cooked with indirect heat, a good starting point is to set your grill to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the ribs for 4-6 hours. For beef ribs, which are larger and denser, you may need to cook for up to 8 hours or more at a slightly higher temperature of 250-275 degrees.

If you’re cooking with direct heat, the cooking time will be shorter. Start with a high heat setting on your grill (around 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit) and cook the ribs for 25-30 minutes, flipping every 5-7 minutes to ensure even cooking. This method is best for thinner cuts of ribs, such as baby back ribs or spare ribs.

How to Check for Doneness

The key to perfectly cooked ribs is to ensure they’re cooked all the way through without becoming dry or tough. The best way to check for doneness is to use a meat thermometer to take the internal temperature of the meat. For pork ribs, the ideal temperature range is between 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit. For beef ribs, aim for a temperature of around 205-210 degrees.

Another way to check for doneness is to use the “bend test.” Pick up the ribs with a pair of tongs and gently twist them. The meat should pull apart easily and the bones should start to loosen from the meat. If the ribs feel tough or the meat is still clinging to the bone, they need to cook longer.


Cooking ribs on the BBQ can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging if you’re not sure how long to cook them for. By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll be able to achieve perfectly cooked ribs every time. Remember to choose the right cut of meat, prepare your ribs with a dry rub or marinade, and select the appropriate cooking method for your chosen heat source. Cook your ribs to the correct temperature and use the bend test to ensure they’re fully cooked and tender. With a little practice and patience, you’ll soon be grilling up delicious, mouthwatering ribs that will impress your friends and family.

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Frequently Asked Questions about How Long to Cook Ribs on BBQ

How long does it take to cook ribs on a grill?

It typically takes about 4-5 hours to cook ribs on a grill. However, the cooking time can vary depending on the type of grill, the temperature, and the thickness of the ribs. It’s important to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ribs, which should reach at least 145°F.

What is the best temperature to cook ribs on a grill?

The best temperature to cook ribs on a grill is between 225°F and 250°F. This low and slow cooking method allows the ribs to cook evenly and become tender. Make sure to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjust the heat source as needed.

Do you need to wrap ribs in foil while grilling?

Wrapping ribs in foil, also known as the “Texas crutch,” can help to tenderize the meat and keep it moist. This technique is often used in competition BBQ. However, it’s not necessary and some people prefer to cook their ribs without wrapping. It’s a matter of personal preference.

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