If you’re craving some delicious smoked ribs but have a gas grill, don’t worry! Learn how to BBQ ribs on your gas grill and make the most out of your equipment.
Not using a Gas Grill? See below for more informative recipe guides.
Barbecue is the process of cooking meats at low temperatures for long periods in a smoky environment. Gas grills are not known for their ability to produce much smoke flavor, but making delicious ribs that have barbecue flavor is possible. Follow these instructions for the best barbecue methods, as these steps will produce tender, flavorful ribs that might not win any competition but will certainly satisfy your appetite.
I will be using a single rack of pork spare ribs for this recipe guide. If you want to use baby back ribs, reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes per step. The total cooking time for spare ribs should take about one and a half to two hours. Use a grill large enough to cook the entire rack indirectly. Small, two-burner gas grills typically don’t have enough space. If the heat source is on one side only, rotate the ribs every thirty minutes for even cooking.
What you’ll need:
- A rack of pork spare ribs (or St. Louis cut)
- BBQ rib rub
- 2/3 cup BBQ sauce for ribs
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) apple juice
- Aluminum foil
- Fuel for your gas grill
- Wood chips for smoke
- A sharp knife
- A cutting board
Optional: Check out the A-Maze-N 12 inch Pellet Tube to make smoke on a gas grill.
How to Make BBQ Ribs on a Gas Grill
1. Preparing the Ribs
- Rib shape: The ideal rack of ribs has a rectangular shape and is even in width and thickness. Look for this shape when buying ribs. When preparing ribs for cooking, it’s best to trim away any loose pieces of meat and excess pockets of fat. Rib meat already contains a lot of marbling, which will help keep it moist on the grill, and extra layers of fat will produce a greasy rib.
- Removing the membrane: Turn the ribs over, bone side up, and remove the membrane that covers the bones. It is tough and creates a flavor barrier. The best method for removing this slippery membrane is with a blunt knife. Lift it on one end of the rack and grab it with a paper towel to give you a better grip. Now, gently pull the membrane away. It might take a few attempts to get all of it, but you’ll become a pro with practice!
2. Applying the BBQ Rub
Now, it is time to season the ribs. There are many great bottled rubs, but making my own is less expensive and allows you to choose your favorite flavor profiles. I have several great rib rub recipes for you to choose from.
The secret to applying a rub is to start with a dry rack of ribs, meaning that any excess moisture has been mopped away with a paper towel. Sprinkle the dry rub over the ribs (no rubbing is required). What sticks to the ribs is the right amount of rub. Get the seasonings evenly distributed over the entire rack, focusing most of it on the meat side.
3. Making Smoke
Creating smoke on a gas grill isn’t easy, particularly at low cooking temperatures like the ones used for this method. However, It is possible. Start by removing the cooking grates that won’t be holding the ribs. Doing this will provide access to the burners. Next, take dry wood chips or chunks (chips produce smoke quickly but don’t last long, while chunks are harder to burn but produce a longer smoke).
Place the wood onto square sheets of aluminum foil and wrap them loosely into balls. About half a cup of chips per smoke bomb is ideal. Using a sharp knife, poke the wrapping on all sides. It will allow the smoke to escape.
Place the smoke bombs over the lit burners on high. Once smoke is produced, reduce the heat and place the ribs on the opposing side.
Please note that you can also purchase a smoker tube for $10-$20 USD.
4. Placing the Ribs on a Gas Grill
The ribs will cook indirectly throughout the whole process. No part of the rack should hang over one of the lit burners. Space the rack as evenly as possible. If your grill is large enough, have your burner turned on both sides of the rack. With some grills, the rack will fit over a single burner space. If you have a large gas grill with four burners, place the rack between the two end burners.
The grill should run at an internal temperature of 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). At this point, the smoke bombs should be producing smoke. Once the ribs are in place, close the lid and let the ribs cook for 30 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time (unless there is an obvious flare-up inside).
5. Wrapping the Ribs
After thirty minutes of cooking, the ribs should be warm and appear wet on the surface. They should appear browned on all sides. If they are not, continue cooking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. If the cooking appears uneven, rotate the ribs.
Once the ribs are sufficiently browned, it is time to wrap them. This step steams the ribs and keeps them tender.
To do this:
- Place the rack of ribs on a large piece of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap the entire rack.
- Lift the edges of the foil and pour one-half cup of warmed apple juice onto the ribs.
- Fold the foil together tightly.
- Create an airtight seal to hold in the moisture.
Return ribs to the grill, close the lid, and turn up the heat on the indirect burners so that the temperature reaches roughly 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Keep the lid closed and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
6. Unwrapping the Ribs on a Gas Grill
At this point, the ribs are almost cooked with the pork ribs internal temp of 165ºF (75ºC). While this is a safe temperature for serving, it isn’t high enough for them to be completely tender and as close to perfect as possible.
Carefully open the foil and examine the ribs. You can test the temperature, but that isn’t conclusive with ribs since the bones will heat faster than the meat. The ribs should appear cooked, and the rack should be relatively loose. Bending the rack of ribs by picking up one end with a pair of tongs should show this. The ribs should bend but not come apart. If the ribs are not cooked, close up the foil and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes.
If the ribs appear cooked, remove them from the foil and place them back on the grill. Examine the rack to determine if it needs to be rotated for even cooking. Close the lid and adjust the grill burners to hold a cooking temperature of 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
7. Saucing the Ribs
Once the ribs have dried on the surface and cooked to the desired temperature (185 to 190 degrees F), it is time to apply the sauce. If you don’t want sauce on your ribs, remove them and move to the last step.
Apply only warmed barbecue sauce. It should be heated to at least 150 degrees F. A cold sauce will cool the ribs and stall the cooking process. Apply the barbecue sauce in three thin layers. Repeat the process every five minutes, allowing the sauce to cook into the ribs and thicken. After the last application, close the grill lid and wait five more minutes before removing it.
8. Cutting the Ribs
Once the ribs are finished, remove them from the gas grill and turn the grill off. Place the ribs on a clean cutting board. Let them rest for 10 minutes.
Using a pair of tongs, hold the ribs on their edge, the bone side towards you, and gently slide a sharp knife between each bone. You should be able to see the bones in the rack, making the carving process easier. Do not slide the knife along the edge of the bone, but aim to stay equally between the two adjacent bones. Once cut, serve immediately. I typically eat them straight off the cutting board. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 6 weeks.
Now that you know how to make BBQ ribs on a gas grill, it’s time to get cooking. Grab all the ingredients and let’s go!
BBQ Ribs on a Gas Grill
- Prepare ribs by trimming away any loose pieces of fat or meat. Then remove the membrane from the back (bone side) of the rack.
- Apply the BBQ rub evenly over the entire surface of the rack of ribs. Set aside.
- Preheat the gas grill to a cooking temperature between 250°F and 300°F. Configure your grill for indirect cooking with enough space for the ribs to cook without direct heat.
- Prepare smoke packets (see above).
- Place the ribs on the grill, close the lid and let them cook for 30 to 45 minutes. After this time the ribs should appear damp on the surface and lightly browned.
- Remove the ribs from the grill and place them on a large piece of aluminum foil. Fold up the side and add the apple juice. Wrap the rack of ribs tightly, keeping the apple juice inside the packet.
- Return to the grill and increase the temperature to about 375°F. Continue cooking for 30 minutes.
- Open the foil to expose the ribs. The internal temperature of the meat should be about 165°F. If so, remove the ribs from the foil and replace them on the grill. Reduce the grill temperature to about 250°F. Continued cooking for about 30 minutes.
- Once the surface of the meat is dry and the ribs and loose and pliable, you can start adding the barbecue sauce (if desired). With the grill still hot, apply three coats of the sauce letting each layer cook into the meat for five minutes.
- Once done, remove the ribs from the grill. Slice into individual bones and serve.
Other Methods for Making BBQ Ribs
- How to Smoke Barbecue Ribs
- Pellet Grill Baby Back Ribs
- Apple Cider Brined Pork Ribs
- Char Siu Ribs
- How to Make BBQ Ribs on a Charcoal Grill
- Pellet Grill Spare Ribs
- How to Make Ribs in the Oven