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Any tips to help with ribs?

Mike8itMike8it Posts: 468
edited February 2012 in EggHead Forum
Everything I have cooked on the egg has been wonderful until this weekends ribs. They turned out a little dry, a bit tough, and a little under done. I admit I like a fall off the bone rib the best but I also like one that is not quite over done where they do fall off the bone. I set the egg up indirect with the plate setter (legs up) at 250 degrees (dome temp) and added a handful or two of apple wood chunks. I did put a drip pan with a bit of apple juice in it. This was to just catch the dripping and not to add moisture or flavor since I do not believe this can be accomplished through a drip pan. Cooked for 3 hours unwrapped, pulled the ribs off the grill - wrapped in foil and cooked for another 1 1/2 hours wrapped. Pulled ribs off the egg and unwrapped for the last hour. The ribs did not have a nice bark and the meat had only slightly pulled away from the bone. Took off the grill and had only decent results. I have cooked too many racks of ribs to count on other charcoal grills/smokers with great success but this was a bit of a let down. My thermometer was calibrated so I'm thinking I was at 225 grate temp since I know I was at 250 dome. Just wondering if any else has had similar results and what they did to correct it. The ribs where fresh ribs from the Fresh Market here in NC and the rack weighed about 2.5 - 2.75 pounds. I'm guessing I need to go to dome temp of at least 275 next time. Any advice out there would be greatly appreciated.


  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273

    Have not been here nearly as long as others - but seems like a common challenge starting off is not enough time - not enough heat.

    My first ribs on the BGE were not that good.   Were not cooked long enough.   After I got some patience and hung in there a while - they got much better.    My thought - cook them till the meat starts trying to open a bit when you pick up one end - then cook them more.   When I have foiled ribs, it was when the meat was trying to open - then I foiled for an hour or so, then took them out for finishing.    Have also just cooked longer without the foil - though I think the foil speeds up that last cooking segment before finishing.   

    Leaves me an option - if I am pushing close to the end of my cooking window - I foil and get them wrapped up.    If I am early in the window, going faster than I thought, then I dont foil - take them up to finishing without foil.   I figure I have a 30 minute swing between foil and no foil for that last cook segment.

    I know there are much better rib cookers than I am on here - I am still fumbling along learning my way.   Thats the fun of it - the journey to perfect bbq - that could be a tag line now that I think of it.


    Cookin in Texas
  • I cook St Louis ribs at a 250 dome temp and allow for 7 hours of cook time.  Most of the time I take them off around 5.5 to 6 hours. I never wrap them.  I don't open the lid and check them until I am checking for them to be done.  I think they get better flavor without wrapping them, and I just find it unnecessary.  I use the bend test to check for them being done.

    I think you would have been happy with your results if you would have let them cook longer.  It looks like you had everything set up fine.
    Large BGE Decatur, AL
  • Mike8it - What kind of ribs were they (baby backs, etc)?  This could make a differance.  I cooked some baby backs this past Friday and they were flawless.  Here's what I did, perhaps you can give this a try:

    1.  Remove membrane on back of ribs.

    2.  Coat ribs w/ mustard and apply dry rub.  The rub is optional but the mustard is a MUST!

    3.  Use plate setter on your egg and get the temp up to 275.

    4.  Smoke for 2hrs.

    5.  Remove and spray ribs generously with apple juice. 

    6.  Wrap ribs in foil and cook for 2 more hours at 275.

    7.  Remove foil and apply bbq sauce.  Place ribs back on egg until sauce is hot and cured on ribs (almost burnt but not quite).  Keep a close eye on them during this stage.

    Good Luck and enjoy!


  • Mike8itMike8it Posts: 468
    edited February 2012
    They where baby backs and I followed the above method almost to a tee with the exception of dome temp. Mine was 250
  • Wow!

    That sounds like a lot of work! I just put them on and leave them for 5 to 6 hours for BBs and 6 to 8 for spares


    Caledon, ON


  • Mike8itMike8it Posts: 468
    Ty guys for the advice and keep it coming. Still madly in love with my egg
  • Wow!

    That sounds like a lot of work! I just put them on and leave them for 5 to 6 hours for BBs and 6 to 8 for spares

    Me too, except I sauce at the end and let it caramelize a half hour or so before I pull them off.
  • SteveWPBFLSteveWPBFL Posts: 1,323
    Did three Costco BB racks on a large BGE yesterday. Indirect, rib rack on the grate, dry drip pan, cherry wood, 250-300F dome, 5-1/2 hours. No foil (why?), I do not want to steam, seems to make them mushy. Played around with four different rubs put on while Egg was heating up. Turned out nice!

    I'm not trying to make the best ribs. Instead, working on a good low effort repeatable process that makes damn good ribs. We're pretty much there!
  • GatoGato Posts: 766
    I want to make the best ribs. I'm definitely NOT there. Yet!!
    Geaux Tigers!!!
  •  I've been very happy with my egg as a rib cooker.  I've had such great success (in my eyes) with ribs so far that we've been eating them more often.  I've done a few sets of baby backs sort of a 2-1-1 style (which is fall off the bone tender) and just did a rack of spares 3-1-1/2 for the Super Bowl which turned out delicious.  I've been cooking ribs between 250 and 275.  I'm the opposite of an expert but I've been loving the learning process.
  • Isnt that what counts?


  • @Mike8it My first ribs were not quite done enough, I cooked them 4.5 hours. They looked good and tasted good but were not done enough.  I tried again this past weekend with two racks of baby backs and prepped them car wash mike style on saturday morning and put them on a stabilized egg at 225 for 4 hours on Sunday morning with alot of smoke. I then pulled them and wrapped in foil with a little water and put them back on for 1.5 hours at 250.  I put them back on the egg at the same temp for 1 hour saucing them 30 minutes in and pulled them after the sauce set up.  They were much better this time and I felt like it was worth the time to cook them again.  What I am saying is I cooked them 2 hours longer and it made a world of difference.  Good luck the next time you fix them.  I will allow 6.5 hours from now on.
    Large BGE Dyersburg TN
  • AD18AD18 Posts: 209
    I don't trust my dome temp for any cooking, calibrated or not.  This past weekend I had a 75 degree difference between dome and grate temp at start of cook.  I had 225 grate and 300 dome.  As cook progressed and everything climatized I ended cook with about 20-30 degrees difference, which is about normal.  It was pretty cold during cook, I'm in Canada, but I use my Maverick grate temp probe as true cook temp.   
    Large BGE, Weber 22.5 kettle, Weber Genesis
    Cobourg, Ontario
  • Mike8itMike8it Posts: 468
    I'm thinking that I had a larger dome to grate temperature difference as well. Guess I'm going to have to go ahead and face the fact that I need a separate thermometer to measure grate temp.
  • I think the general consensus is that you didn't cook them long enough.

    I cook a lot of ribs.  Don't know what it is with ribs, but they tend to require some flexibility with respect to cooking time.  I now cook mine longer than I once did and use the bend test to determine if they are done rather than some set time (3-1-1 for instance).   I also tend to cook at higher temps now (250-275 rather than 225-250).  Despite these adjustments, I still sometimes get a tough rack or two despite what I thought was perfect execution in the cook.  I attribute this to the meat, which I am buying at Sam's in a vacuum 3-pack.

    When I lived in Memphis I was good friends with a guy on a competition BBQ team that competed nationally.  Ribs was their specialty.  They hand selected their meat at the local packer from recently slaughtered pigs that met a certain age and weight range.  This attention to detail, which is not available for most of us, is a key component to consistency.
    Jackson, Tennessee. VFL (Vol for Life)
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    @ad18... thing about trusting the dome temp is to realize that most recipes refer to dome temp and take into account the difference with th grate temp anyway.  what that means is that when someone says to go at 250 for x-amount of hours, the grate temp being lower doesn't mean it's 'wrong'.  dome temp is just a reference point.

    think of it this way: when your electric oven reads "350", the oven is either going to be above that, or below it, and only occasionally spot on, as the element cycles on and off.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • deepsouthdeepsouth Posts: 1,796
    Unless I've overlooked it, nobody has mentioned "car wash mike ribs" yet.
  • By no means am I an expert on ribs ("or anything else" says my wife), but I like to cook ribs and I do cook them quite often (at least every other week). Here are just a few things that I try to focus on.

    1) Consistent Temperature: I like to let my egg stabilize before putting the meat on. I know a lot of people put it on while the egg's warming up but I like to know that I won't have any variations in my temp. (BTW, I shoot for a stable egg temp of 275* dome when doing ribs.)

    2) Trust the Egg: This means no peeking. The only exception for this is if I'm spritzing the ribs (most of the time - 90% of the time - I do). I will start spritzing at the 3 hour mark and continue to do so every 30 minutes thereafter. But I do so as QUICKLY as possible and i use that time to look at the meat pulling back from the bones.

    3) Cook them how YOU like them: I'm not a fall-off-the-bone guy, so after 4 hours I start to "bend" them every time I spritz. As soon as they're ready to pull off the grill I put on the sauce and give them another 20 minutes.

    I feel that if I do those 3 things I can play around with the taste profile (rub/smoke/sauce/etc.) and still have ribs I'm proud to have my friends and family chow down on.


    "Take yourself lightly, but what you do seriously." - M. Martin XL BGE - Johnston, IA
  • Not a pro by any means, my first attempt was a disappointment. Second time with the egg was way better. Cooked them 6 hours and they looked real nice, (thanks to Car Wash Mike) they tasted better just not quite tender enough. I think another hour or so would have made the difference. What I have gathered from some of the EGGSPERTS here on the forum, is a longer cook, don't think that the cooking time is set in stone.Be flexible, you may need a bit more time. One thing I may change up on, it NOT squirting the ribs every hour with apple juice, I want to see if the opening and closing of the egg effects the length of time. Follow Little Steven's method. Whatever you decide, it is always a journey. For me the ribs are getting better with practice and I am loving the egg. One day we will arrive and have mastered the technique. Planning how to better the cook can be half the fun.
    Large, small, and a mini
  • smokesniffer,

    It really depends what you like. Many years ago I made good ribs on a gasser with a smoke tube and tin foil but they were always kinda mushy. I like the way they turn out without doing anything but the seasoning/rub and cooked til tender


    Caledon, ON


  • Mike8itMike8it Posts: 468
    Thanks for everyone posting these great tips. I believe my first presumptions were correct. I need to go a little higher temp and need to go longer on the cook. I never cook by time but with ribs it does seem like you do time them some. From my experience with cooking ribs to perfection (in my opinion) on other cookers I knew by looking at them they where not going to be fall of the bone style. I will certainly try them again in the near future and I'm sure they will be much better. Once again I really appreciate everyone's advice and the tips are extremely helpful. Hopefully there will be some more posts on this thread that give even more advice and tips!!!!
  • AD18AD18 Posts: 209
    @Stike -  Agree and understand what you are saying and that probably explains why there is a fairly wide variance in how long some individuals say they cook their ribs, or anything for that matter.  Makes sense.  That is why I fuss around getting platesetter in place, grate, all components in, heated, and stabilized using grate temp prior to starting the cook.  I even pre heat my rib rack and add hot water to drip pan.  Maybe too much effort for the end result, all part of the fun for me, but I like the added control of my method.  Thanks for the tip/clarification. 
    Large BGE, Weber 22.5 kettle, Weber Genesis
    Cobourg, Ontario
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