Want Great Ribs? Follow These 5 Easy Steps.

updated Jun 10, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Every July I make a giant batch of ribs to celebrate the 4th with my family, but this summer I’m resolving to cook more ribs. Not only because they are equally as fun to serve to a hungry crowd as they are to eat, but also because I’ve recently discovered I can cook ribs in my Instant Pot or my oven and finish either on the grill.

From my annual rib endeavors I’ve learned which key steps for making barbecued ribs can be translated from the smoker to almost every other cooking technique. Here are five key steps for better ribs.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

1. Remove the membrane.

One step to better ribs? Remove the thin, tough membrane that lines the bone side of your slab of ribs. The easiest way to do that is to slide a butter knife under the membrane — somewhere the between two rib bones — and then use your fingers to pull the membrane up and then off in one or two large pieces.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

2. Make a dry rub.

Flavoring ribs before you get them into the slow cooker, the oven, or the grill is an essential step for juicy ribs. A mixture of salt, pepper, herbs, and spices creates a crust on the exterior of the ribs that protects them from drying out while also creating the most delicious texture. For extra-juicy ribs, use a smear of your favorite mustard to ensure the rub sticks to the meat.

See how it’s done: How To Make a Dry Rub

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

3. Cook them low and slow.

Hot and fast heat will dry out the lean ribs, so use slow, tender heat when cooking. We love a low oven or the slow cooker for using this technique without a smoker or a temperature-controlled grill.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

4. Sauce at the end.

Yes, everyone wants those saucy, finger-licking ribs, but if you lather up the ribs at the beginning of cooking you risk burning the sauce. Instead, cook the ribs to perfection and add sauce near the end of cooking. One or two coats will make for a nice, thick layer that results in finger-licking good ribs.

5. Finish them on the grill (or under the broiler).

The final step before serving and after saucing is to cook the sauced ribs to finish extra sticky. You can do this with a few quick minutes under a broiler or you can throw the ribs — meaty-side down — directly on the grill before slicing and serving.