There is nothing quite like BBQ ribs, succulent flavoured meat on the bone. In the USA ribs are a stalwart of BBQ competitions, and there are many rib recipes and variations.

Real BBQ Ribs! Follow Me on Pinterest

Real BBQ Ribs!

There are two methods to marinating ribs, wet or dry. Wet is the sticky BBQ sauce which we are more familiar with here in the UK, but we are going to start with the dry method.

Dry rubbing (as it’s know) is one of the easiest ways to get great flavour into meat, so I have created for you a basic dry rub for ribs. Southern style with a couple of interesting options which I hope will inspire you!


  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper


  • 1 Tbsp Ground Fennel Seed (for wonderful aniseed flavour)
  • 1 Tsp Chilli (if you like it spicier)

Grind up all of your whole spices (if not using pre-ground) and mix thoroughly in a bowl. Add all of the other ingredients and combine well.

This amount should easily marinade a couple of racks of baby back ribs.

Rubbed and ready! Follow Me on Pinterest

Rubbed and ready!

Place a sheet of cling film or kitchen foil onto a flat surface. Sprinkle some of the rub onto it.

Now place you ribs onto the sheet, it’s time to get your hands dirty!

Use a generous amount of the rub and, well, rub it into the meat. Get it right into every nook and cranny, ensuring those spices are in place to do their work.

Your ribs should now have an almost completely dry powder coating all over. Wrap your cling film or foil tightly round the meat, sealing in those flavours.

Put the meat into the fridge and let marinate for at least four hours. As with most marinades of this type the longer the better, so if you can marinate overnight all the better.

Now fire up the BBQ!

In the USA the term barbecuing does not mean the same as here in the UK. Our friends across the pond call our version of barbecuing grilling, cooking on the direct heat of the BBQ.

Barbecuing in the USA means slower cooking using a BBQ with a lid, sealing in all the smoke and flavour and allowing the meat to stay moist. This is the technique we will be using for our ribs.

After 40 minutes in the BBQ Follow Me on Pinterest

After 40 minutes in the BBQ

When your BBQ has reached temperature, move the coals to the edges so that the centre becomes the coolest part. You can add BBQ wood chips now if you have them.

With a gas BBQ turn the heat to low, and of course don’t put wood chips in there!

Place your ribs onto the grill and close the lid, leaving the top vent half open to allow for air flow. Without doing this your BBQ could go out.

If you don’t have a BBQ with a lid then pre-make a tin foil lid double thick. Be extremely careful placing this onto a hot BBQ, use oven gloves or similar protection.

Now leave your ribs smoking and smouldering away for around 40 minutes turning once half way through. Check to see that they have cooked through, then leave to rest for about five minutes.

If the British weather let’s you down, try them in the oven at 170C/340F or gas mark 3 for around an hour.

Crisp outside, fall off the bone moist inside! Follow Me on Pinterest

Crisp outside, fall off the bone moist inside!

There you have it, perfect BBQ ribs! As you can see from the picture the ribs get a wonderful crisp coating bursting with flavour, yet inside the meat has remained moist and pulls of the bone. If you overcook them ribs can easily get dry, just remember the rule to cook on a low heat and use the resting time…unless you really can’t keep your hands off them 😉

If you like learning how to marinate ribs you’ll love my bestselling Kindle BBQ book!

Remember to share how you got on with this recipe and if you tried the options  in the comments below.

Michael Robinson

The Food Curator
The Food Curator (AKA Michael Robinson) is an aficionado of all things food and bon viveur based in London. A passion for cooking and dining has driven him to put fingers to keyboard to bring you his thoughts on the world of food. When not writing, eating or cooking he has a love of American muscle cars. Pop on over to my Facebook page and let's start a Facebook food revolution together:
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