It can be tricky to impart an authentic BBQ flavor when you’re cooking ribs on a gas grill.
Why is this?
Well, a gas grill is designed for cooking hot and fast, but they are not so efficient when it comes to cooking low and slow. For this reason, you typically cook ribs in a smoker.
That said, there are a few simple hacks you can use to get the very most out of barbecuing ribs on your gas grill.
If you’re using a full rack of properly trimmed spare ribs, you’ll need from 90 minutes to 2 hours for total cooking time. If you use baby back ribs instead, you’ll need to slash the overall cooking time by roughly 5 minutes per stage.
What You Need to BBQ Ribs on a Gas Grill
You’ll need a gas grill featuring at least two burners. This is necessary since you’ll be cooking your ribs using indirect heat.
Also, the grill should be large enough to accommodate the whole rack of ribs on one side, while still leaving some room on the other side.
You do not apply the heat under the rack of ribs, but rather on the other side of the grill using indirect heat.
Here’s what you need for tasty barbecued ribs on the gas grill:
- Gas grill
- Fuel for grill
- Pork spare ribs (1 rack)
- Rib rub
- Wood chips for smoke
- Aluminum foil
- Apple juice (1/2 cup)
- BBQ sauce or Memphis rub
We should add here that while you can certainly BBQ ribs on a gas grill, you’ll get even better results if you master the art of cooking with a charcoal grill. Nothing can rival that trademark smokiness generated by this cooking method.
How to Prepare Your Rack of Ribs
One of the drawbacks of picking up store-bought spare ribs is that they are seldom properly prepared.
Fortunately, all you need to do is take care of some trimming before you grill your ribs.
The optimum rack of ribs for grilling will be square shaped and of an even thickness throughout.
Remove all loose pieces of fat, bone, or meat from the rib before you get started.
Next, cut away excessive fat from the rib rack, but don’t go over the top and carve it all away. All you’re looking to do here is reduce the mass of the thicker parts of fat rather than attempting to remove it all. Where you’ll be cooking your ribs much faster using a gas grill than a smoker, you won’t notice such a distinct benefit from the fat anyway.
Your overarching goal here is to keep enough fat intact so the meat stays moist, but not so much that the finished product is overly fatty.
With trimming complete, rinse your rack of ribs with some cold water then pat it dry with some paper towels.
It’s Time to Rub The Ribs
A great rib rub will add flavor without dominating the meat’s natural flavor and overpowering the dish.
When you’re rubbing meat, make sure to apply it evenly over the front and back of the meat, as well as the sides and the ends.
The rib’s moisture content will hold as much rub onto the meat as you need. The excess will fall away.
Feel free to apply your meat rub up to 1 hour before cooking. Don’t apply it any earlier than this, though, or you’ll end up with the texture and flavor of ham rather than ribs.
The sweet spot it to get your rack of ribs on the grill with 15 to 20 minutes of applying the meat rub.
Next, time for some fun and to streamline grilling at the same time.
Create Some Smoke Bombs
It can be challenging to get a gas grill to generate smoke at low temperatures.
Rather than beating yourself up about this, keep your expectations reasonable, and keep in mind that losing a hint of smokiness is one of the drawbacks for the convenience of gas grilling.
Smoke bombs, though, are easy to make and a pretty effective way of getting some smokiness into those ribs.
Place ½ cup of damp wood chips onto some aluminum foil. Make sure they are not wet, though.
Wrap the wood chips in so one side is covered with just a single layer of foil. Pierce holes in the foil to let the smoke out.
Pop these smoke bombs as close to the burner as possible directly under the cooking grates. It’s vital to preheat your grill so it’s hot enough to get the wood burning. As soon as you see smoke coming out of your homemade smoke bombs, dial down the heat, throw your ribs on the grill, and shut the lid of your gas grill.
Rib Placement on the Grill
Now, rib placement on the grill is crucial if you want the best results on your plate.
You’ll need indirect heat if you want to grill ribs without overcooking them or drying them out. Your target temperature is 375F.
If your grill has burners positioned from front to back, use one of the burners at each end. If you use the left-hand burner, pop your smoke bombs under here, beneath the cooking grates.
You should position your ribs on the grate to the right-hand side of the hot burner.
Put your rack of ribs bone-side facing down on the grill. Shut the lid.
Adjust your grill until it holds a steady temperature of 300F.
Allow your ribs to cook for 30 minutes.
Resist the temptation to open the lid of your grill as this will let the smoke escape and will serve no benefit. That said, you shouldn’t expect a deluge of smoke using this method as smoke production is pretty limited.
Wrapping Your Grilled Ribs
When you’ve been grilling your ribs for 30 minutes, it’s time to check they are properly browned all over. If you notice any raw-looking spots on the surface, keep grilling the ribs for 10 to 15 minutes more.
You’ll next make your ribs even more tender if you steam them with some apple juice when tightly wrapped in foil. This will lock all the juice inside the packet with the ribs. Ensure the package is as watertight as possible once you’ve poured in your apple juice.
Pop your tightly wrapped spare ribs back onto the grill, again using the indirect cooking zone.
Shut the lid of the grill and ratchet up the temperature to 375F. This is hot enough for the apple juice to boil, further tenderizing your ribs, while also speeding up the time it takes to cook them.
After 30 minutes of steaming in the foil, dial the heat down and start unwrapping your ribs.
You should find the ribs are flexible now and mostly cooked. If you pick up the rack from one end, you should see it drooping.
If, however, you find the ribs are still not fully browned, close the package up and grill them for 10 minutes more.
Don’t Forget the BBQ Sauce
To finish cooking, set your gas grill to between 250F and 265F. 265F is the temperature at which sugar burns.
Put your ribs back into the same spot to finish them off.
Adding a sauce to smoked ribs is optional, but when you’re using a gas grill, it’s always a smart idea to use some great BBQ sauce. This will add the flavor you might otherwise find lacking, and it will also improve the meat’s surface texture.
Try applying some BBQ sauce to one side of the ribs only at first. Close the lid and cook them for 5 minutes on the lower heat.
Next, open the lid of your grill, flip the ribs over, and repeat the process on the other side.
Over the following 30 minutes, keep repeating these steps, so you end up with multiple coats of BBQ sauce all over your tender grilled ribs.
You should remove your ribs from the grill 5 minutes after applying the last coat of BBQ sauce.
Cut them down to size and serve.
We hope today’s guide has shown you how to BBQ ribs on a gas grill, ideal if you’re looking to switch up your menu for your next cookout but you don’t have a smoker.
You’ll end up with your ribs served much quicker than if you were relying on a smoker when you’re grilling, and if you follow the guidance above, you’ll end up with a lip-smacking feast for the whole family.
Before you head off today, bookmark Hempen Hill BBQ. Be sure to come back soon, too, as we have lots of great content coming your way over the coming weeks. We’ll see you soon!