Fall off the Bone St Louis style ribs can be daunting if you’ve never done it before but if you follow the steps, you will deliver, every time, the most tender, mouth-watering ribs that you and your family and friends have ever tasted.
Now, I will preface this with this disclaimer: there are several ways of making delicious ribs. You can smoke them, you can do them in the oven, you can cook ’em low and slow, you can use various rubs that will all deliver various flavors and level of tenderness. This is our favorite. The ribs are so tender you can shake the rib and the meat will come off the bone. The rub is slightly sweet with a bit of heat at the end. There is the slightest of ‘pull’ when you bite into it. This is how we like our ribs. So, if you enjoy a different flavor profile, feel free to use this as a ‘primer’ to come up with your own perfect rack of ribs.
The first thing you want to do is remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Just get a corner and rip it right off. This will allow your rub to penetrate the rib and also get some more smoke in there. This is really a personal preference, but I have found that it’s better to remove it. If you have trouble, just grab a spoon to get under it initially, then use a paper towel to hold on to it.
Once you have the membrane off, you want to apply your rub. Holy smokes, there are tons of rubs out there. You can make your own, buy a rub … any number of options are available to you. I have provided my ‘secret’ rub here, feel free to use it, you won’t be sorry. This rub works well for St Louis Style ribs, baby back ribs, pork shoulders … pretty much anything. Keep it handy.
Apply the rub liberally to both sides of the ribs, wrap with plastic, and allow to rest for at least 2 hours to 24 hours. Most rubs contain a good amount of salt. This dry rub will begin to work on the meat, drawing out the moisture, then reabsorbing into the meat, taking that delicious rub into the meat. The longer you can let your ribs rest, the more flavor you can get into your meat. I usually do mine overnight.
When you’re ready to get this party started, it’s time to get your grill/smoker ready. I cook my ribs for approximately 5 hours, 225 to 250 degrees. Two to two and one-half hours to smoke, 1 and a half to 2 hours wrapped, then about 30 minutes over some heat to crisp them up. With pulling them on and off, doing this and that, it takes about 5 hours. So plan accordingly.
I use charcoal for my heat and I use hickory or pecan for my smoke. I get my grill to temperature and when it’s ready I get the ribs out and remove the plastic wrap. There will be moisture from the dry rub doing its thing with the ribs. If you have some gloves, you might want to wear them. No worries, though .. it washes off. Apply another generous amount of rub on both sides. Then place the ribs in your smoker/grill.
A note on smoke: I have used a couple of different methods regarding my smoke chips. I have soaked the chips then applied them to the charcoal directly. I have also added dry chips to a bowl made of heavy duty aluminum foil and placed them on the coals. Both work great, but the dry method will burn pretty quick and you will need to watch your grill to make sure that smoke is always coming out.
Maintaining a temperature of 225-250 degrees, smoke your St Louis Style ribs for about 2 hours using indirect heat (not over the heat source).
Looks good, doesn’t it? Well, this is just stage one. Pull your ribs off the grill/smoker. Tear off two large sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place on the counter. Put your ribs onto the tin foil. Apply honey and three to four tabs of butter to one side of the rib, flip the ribs and apply some more honey and butter. Seal up the ribs nice and tight as they’re going back on the grill.
Note: However you wrap these ribs up, you want the meat side down when you return them to the grill so make sure when you wrap them up your seal is on top, the meat side down on the grill.
Put the ribs back on the grill for about another hour and a half. Maintain your temperature at 225-250 degrees. This will tenderize your ribs big time as well as stop the smoking process.
Take them off the grill and remove the foil. There will be a fair amount of juice, so be ready for that.
Return to the grill and place over heat. We want to get some char on these ribs. It might be needed for you to apply another amount of charcoal. At this step, I usually add some more charcoal as I love some char to my ribs. I usually give them about 5 minutes on each side depending on the heat. I then apply a generous amount of BBQ sauce to each side of the ribs and cook them for about 10 minutes further each side, letting the heat caramelize the sauce onto the ribs. With the sauce and that honey in there, you should get some nice sticky ribs.
Pull them off and let them rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.
Cut the ribs into individual portions and serve with your favorite sides. You WILL BE hero of the day, I swear it!
We always seem to go with a potato salad and devilled eggs with our ribs.
You can watch the video for the full process. The best part is the cutting where you can plainly see how tender these ribs are. Even with a sharp knife, the meat wants to come off the bone at the slightest pressure of the blade. My wife even said that they “might be too tender.” What???
So, give it a whirl. If you do it, let us know how it went, we would love to hear about it. After this, St Louis Style ribs will be your go-to hero off the grill!
This video is one of my first, so please don’t judge too harshly. I will get better.
- 1 Rack St Louis Style ribs
- 6-8 Tablespoons butter
- 4 Tablespoons Honey
- 8 Oz BBQ Sauce
- Rub Ingredients
- ⅔ C White Sugar
- ⅓ C Dark Brown Sugar
- ½ C Smoked Paprika
- ¼ C Garlic Powder
- ⅓ C Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Dry Mustard
- Remove membrane from back of ribs
- Apply liberal amount of rub to ribs
- Wrap in plastic wrap, let rest for 2 to 24 hours
- After rest, remove plastic wrap and add more rub liberally
- Start grill
- Get grill/smoker to stable temperature (225 to 250 degrees)
- Add smoking wood chips.
- Put ribs on, meat side up
- Cook for 2 to 2 and one-half hours
- Remove ribs from grill
- Lay ribs onto heavy-duty tin foil, add money and butter equally to each side.
- Seal ribs in tin foil, place back on the grill for 1 to 1 and one-half hour.
- Remove ribs from grill, remove ribs from tin foil
- Add more heat to grill, if needed
- Place ribs back on grill over heat for app 5 minutes each side
- Cover in BBQ sauce
- Cook each side for app 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to caramelize.
- Remove from grill, set aside for 5 to 10 minutes
- Cut into individual portions.