Everyone say it with me: RIBS! That’s always how I feel when I know they’re for dinner — all caps, freakin’ stoked.. Tender ribs are so delicious, and there’s really nothing like them. It always feels like a party when a rack of ribs are on the menu. 

Some BBQ ribs cooking on the smoker.

I know cooking the barbecue ribs can be intimidating if you’re not sure of the best way to go about it, which is what I’m here for. I’ve got a roundup of my favorite recipes, along with all the tips and tricks you’ll need to make the best ones out there. 

Why You’ll Love Ribs

Bone tender, juicy, flavorful, enough to scale up and feed a crowd — what’s not to love? They’re so freakin’ delicious with your favorite dry rub and homemade BBQ sauce. Just keep in mind that while the process of cooking is very easy, it does take a long time. It’s all just about heat management. 

Rotisserie beef ribs, ready to eat.

For more of my favorite saucy BBQ recipes, check out Honey Fire BBQ Wings, Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich, Honey Bacon BBQ Chicken Lollipops and Western BBQ Burger.

How to Cook the Best Ribs

Prep Basics

Choosing Your Cut

You’ll hear the most about three types of ribs: baby back ribs, St. Louis style ribs and spare ribs. 

Baby backs are incredibly popular, and for good reason. They usually have more meat on the top of the ribs than on the sides of the ribs. The bones are more curved and they come from the upper part of the pig’s back.

Peanut butter and jelly sticky ribs.

St. Louis style ribs and spare ribs are actually two names for the same cut. They have more meat between the bones and fat and come from the belly of the pig. The meat on St. Louis style ribs isn’t always as tender as baby back ribs, but the flavor is awesome.

Which one you’ll choose depends on the recipe, but I truly believe you can’t go wrong. 


The first thing you’ll want to do is trim the excess fat so you don’t have any flare-ups on the grill. A rack also has a silver skin on the back of the ribs, so you’ll need to remove this thin membrane before cooking.

First, flip your ribs so the bones are curled toward you. Then, use your fingers or a paring knife to slide under the membrane and lift it to remove that first piece from the bones. Finally, grab a paper towel and pull slowly but firmly across until you’ve removed the whole thing. 

Ribs ready to go on the smoker.

Some recipes may also have you cut the rack into individual ribs to cook them, so just double-check before you get started. You’ll want a sturdy cutting board and sharp knife for that job.


I find it best to slather them with mustard and use a spice rub before you put them in the smoker. You can also use a mop sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce while you’re cooking to keep them most, then get that delicious caramelization at the end. 

Maple Cajun ribs, seasoned and on the grill.

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Cooking & Smoking

There are a couple ways I like to do this. If I’m cooking a full rack, I use indirect heat at a low temperature for slow cooking and cook the ribs for several hours. That mop sauce or your favorite BBQ sauce every 30-45 minutes keeps them tender. 

Smoked ribs with bourbon maple mop sauce on the grill.

If I’m cooking individual ribs, a crutch is foolproof way to get tender, flavorful ribs. A crutch involves wrapping the meat in aluminum foil to concentrate the heat, reduce evaporation and speed up the cooking process.

I usually put the meat in a foil pan. Then, you can add all sorts of delicious ingredients — soy sauce, butter, beer and even whisky. I cover the whole pan tightly with a foil lid and get fall-of-the-bone ribs in no time.

Our half cooked dish, getting covered in butter, brown sugar and bbq sauce so that it can finish cooking.

Finishing and Serving

For the indirect cooking method, the racks will finish on their own since they’re already directly on the smoker. Make sure you let them rest for about 15 minutes after you take them off the grill so we can lock in those flavors and juices!

One of our honey fired party ribs, ready to eat.

When I’m cooking in the crutch, once the meat is up to temp, I’ll put them back directly on the hot grill for another 20-30 minutes to get those deep flavors and caramelization. Then, it’s all about serving and enjoying these freakin’ delicious ribs. 

My Favorite Rib Recipes

Now that we’ve gone through the process to make the best ribs, here’s the roundup of my favorite recipes! Be sure to let me know in the comments which ones you tried and liked the best! 

Pork Ribs

Fried Sticky Wings looking absolutely delicious.

Sticky Fried Ribs Recipe

Fried Sticky Ribs for the win!
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Smoked party ribs ready to eat.

Smoked Party Ribs

Smoked party ribs are a freakin' delicious barbecue recipe to share with friends and family.
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Honey fire party ribs in the crutch on the smoker.

Honey Fire Party Ribs

Honey fire party ribs is a sweet and spicy take on party ribs, a viral trend recipe.
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Finishing the Habanero Peach Smoked Ribs

Habañero Peach Smoked Ribs

These Habanero Peach Smoked Ribs are smoked until fall-apart tender, then finished off with a sweet and spicy Habanero Peach BBQ Sauce.
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Smoked Ribs with Bourbon Mop Sauce sliced and served.

Smoked Ribs with Bourbon Mop Sauce

Smoked Ribs with Bourbon Mop Sauce to showcase our Sticky Bourbon Brown Ale!
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Nashville Hot Smoke Fried Ribs on a plater ready to eat.

Nashville Hot Smoke Fried Ribs

Nashville Hot Smoke Fried Ribs for some pork ribs that pack a punch!
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Cherry Cola Spare Ribs are absolutely delicious!

Cherry Cola Spare Ribs

Cherry Cola Spare Ribs for a tangy, savory meal!
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overhead of a plate of peanut butter and jelly sticky ribs next to a smoker

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sticky Ribs

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Sticky Ribs are smoked until tender, breaded and fried, then smothered in a sweet and spicy PB&J BBQ sauce. 
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Huli Huli Ribs with Sriracha BBQ Sauce waiting to be sliced.

Huli Huli Ribs with Sriracha BBQ Sauce

Huli Huli Ribs with Sriracha BBQ Sauce for a Hawaiian inspired meal right at home.
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The ribs and potatoes assembled and plated.

Crown Rack of Ribs

Crown Rack of Ribs are pork ribs, seasoned, smoked, stuffed with potatoes and topped with beer cheese!
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Maple Gochujang Rotisserie Ribs Recipe

Maple Gochujang Rotisserie Ribs

Maple Gochujang Rotisserie Ribs for your next grilling night!
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Sweet Teriyaki Sake Smoked Ribs

Sweet Teriyaki Sake Smoked Ribs

Sweet Teriyaki Sake Smoked Ribs are all things good. Complete with a Sake BBQ glaze, these ribs are tender, juicy and so freakin’ delicious!
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Jalapeño Watermelon BBQ Ribs

Jalapeño Watermelon BBQ Ribs

Jalapeño Watermelon BBQ Ribs just in time for your 4th of July celebrations! I’ve seen a lot happening with watermelon lately, and thought I’d jump on the bandwagon but with my own spin.
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maple cajun smoked ribs

Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs

After falling in love with how maple syrup pairs with spicy food, I decided to venture even further out with these Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs.
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Smoked Honey Teriyaki Ribs

Teriyaki Ribs

Get your offset smoker going with these Smoked Honey Teriyaki Ribs. Using my Oklahoma Joes Highland, we make some epic ribs!
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Maple Guinness BBQ Pork Ribs

Maple Guinness BBQ Pork Ribs

Crush any gameday with these Maple Guinness BBQ Pork Ribs. With malty sweetness from Guinness Draught and savory bbq sauce, these ribs will be a touchdown.
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Molasses Espresso St. Louis Style Pork Spareribs

Molasses Espresso St. Louis Style Pork Spareribs

Crush the backyard with some new spareribs recipe! This is the perfect cook to have while watching the NASCAR race!
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spicy bbq ribs

Spicy BBQ Ribs

Delicious and spicy pork ribs smoked over the fire then lathers & caramelized in bbq sauce.
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glazed ribs

BBQ Maple Bourbon Ribs

Maple syrup makes these ribs sweet and delicious.
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Beef Ribs

The Rotisserie Beef Ribs smothered in Chimichurri.

Rotisserie Beef Ribs

Rotisserie Beef Ribs brings the best of slow cooking to your backyard, yielding fall-off-the bone tender beef smothered in a flavor-packed chimichurri sauce.
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Smoked Garlic Jalapeño Beef Ribs sliced and ready to serve.

Smoked Garlic Jalapeño Beef Ribs

Smoked Garlic Jalapeño Beef Ribs for some tender, juicy and beef.
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Gaucho Beef Ribs Recipe

Gaucho Beef Ribs

Gaucho Beef Ribs for you South American inspired dinner!
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beef back ribs

Smoked Wagyu Beef Back Ribs

Juicy and well marbled beef back ribs thrown on the smoker and cooked till they fall off the bone. Maybe add some chimichurri?
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chipotle black pepper smoked beef ribs

Chipotle Black Pepper Smoked Beef Ribs

These Smoked Beef Ribs will be the perfect outdoor cooking experience when you use high quality beef from Global Animal Partnership!
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Smoked Jack Daniels Beef Ribs

Slowly Smoked Jack Daniels Beef Ribs are perfect for a hearty and adventurous dinner. Try them out now!
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The braised beef ribs over mashed potatoes with a side of whole cooked carrots.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

The secret of this Braised Beef Short Ribs recipe is the slow cooking that happens in the Dutch oven over the elegantly designed Breeo fire pit. 
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steak and smashed potatoes being drizzled with a spoonful of chimichurri butter

Grilled Beef Short Ribs

These Grilled Beef Short Ribs with melted chimichurri butter are cooked over a smokeless firepit until tender and served with crispy smashed potatoes.
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Tomahawk Beef Short Ribs with bone marrow plated.

Tomahawk Beef Short Ribs

Tomahawk Beef Short Ribs for an epic dinner.
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short ribs ready to eat

Rotisserie Smoked Short Ribs

Try my Rotisserie Smoked Short Ribs on your grill now. They are grilled to make sure you get both smoky and savory flavors on your beef ribs!
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grilled korean bbq short ribs on the grill

Grilled Korean BBQ Short Ribs

Everyone loves some good short ribs. Try these Grilled Korean BBQ Short Ribs so that you do not miss out!
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Lamb Ribs

honey chipotle bbq lamb ribs

Honey Chipotle BBQ Lamb Ribs

BBQ Lamb Ribs like you have never had them before. Doused in a Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce while being smoked over fire. Tender and delicious!
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delicious bbq lamb ribs

BBQ Lamb Ribs

Slowly roasted BBQ Lamb Ribs for Easter! Cannot be beaten.
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What to Serve with Ribs

Ribs are such a classic BBQ meal that it makes sense to keep it classic with the sides. The jalapeno cheddar cornbread highlighted in this recipe is so freakin’ delicious, and you can do a green salad, broccoli slaw or coleslaw as a vegetable.

For More Smoked Pork

Leftovers and Reheating

For leftovers, wrap them in foil or an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-5 days. A low, slow oven is the best way to reheat these juicy ribs so they don’t dry out. Place the meat on a baking sheet, cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and reheat at 200-205 degrees. 


Why do ribs take so long to cook? 

Ribs have a lot of fat and connective tissue, which means they need more time to break down and redistribute the fat and flavor. You also want to cook them at low temperatures, around 200-250 degree F, so that process can happen properly. 

What BBQ rub is best for ribs? 

Anything with brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika is so freakin’ delicious. You can also make your own or check out my rubs and blends on Spiceology!

What do you like better, beef or pork ribs? 

​They’re really different! Beef ribs are larger and have more fat, so they tend to be better when you braise them. Pork has a milder flavor, so they can be more versatile. But my favorite is whichever one is on my plate, they’re both great and full of flavor. 

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Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek's fire cooking journey. He's a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he's cooking up, it's guaranteed to be so freakin' delicious!

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