Finger Lickin’ Grilled Baby Back Ribs


Learning how to cook the perfect rack of Grilled Baby Back Ribs is so much easier than you'd expect! Simply season baby back ribs with a homemade BBQ rub, then cook them on a gas or charcoal grill, low & slow with indirect heat. Once they’re juicy & fall off the bone tender, slather the grilled ribs in your favorite BBQ sauce & finish over high heat for beautiful caramelization & crispy-charred edges. The perfect BBQ centerpiece & a great Sunday supper to enjoy all summer long!

An overhead shot of individual grilled ribs on a paper-lined sheet pan atop a white surface. Two bowls of BBQ sauce sit alongside them.

Cooking Ribs on the Grill is Easy, I Promise!

When you think of grilling season it’s hard not to think of grilled pork ribs – they’re a staple! Yet all the hype & obsession over BBQ ribs can make it seem like a super difficult thing to cook. Trust me, it’s really not.

This grilled ribs recipe is super straightforward & always flawless thanks to the 2-zone grilling method. Season baby back ribs with our signature BBQ dry rub then grill them low & slow with indirect heat, allowing the gentle, smoky heat to permeate the meat until it’s so tender that it’s nearly falling off the bone. Permission to sit back & relax during all this inactive cook time!

Slater the grilled baby back ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce & finish them over direct heat, creating beautiful caramelization & deliciously crispy charred edges. The final product is super juicy & tender enough to pull away from the bone, but still has the charred texture you crave from all things BBQ. It’s seriously perfect & the grill does all the work! 🙌🏼

All that’s left is to serve your grilled baby back ribs with a few classic cookout sides like baked beans, coleslaw, or potato salad & enjoy! Perfect for backyard cookouts, Sunday suppers, or event a hands-off weeknight dinner – there’s always a good reason to make baby back ribs on the grill!

Grilled Ribs Recipe Highlights

These sweet & smoky baby back ribs are a grilling season go-to! You’ll love this recipe because it’s…

EASIER THAN YOU THINK. Don’t let cooking ribs on the grill intimidate you! This grilled ribs recipe couldn’t be more straightforward. Simply season baby back ribs with a homemade BBQ dry rub & let the grill take over for hours of inactive cooking. Perfect results every time!

JUICY & CHARRED. Low & slow heat cooks the grilled baby back ribs until they’re super juicy & meltingly tender. A quick finish over high heat gives them deliciously crisp edges & a beautiful caramelization from the BBQ sauce. They’re everything grilled ribs should be, with no fuss required!

FANTASTIC ALL SUMMER. You’ll love serving grilled baby back ribs at backyard cookouts, Sunday suppers, game day, or even for a hands-off weeknight meal. Best when paired with plenty of BBQ sides!

Quintessential summer food! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Grilled Baby Back Ribs, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

Key Ingredients

The fun thing about this bbq baby back ribs recipe recipe is that you only need 3 ingredients to make it. Keeping things simple lets the beautiful richness of grilled pork ribs shine.

Grilled baby back ribs ingredients sit atop a white marbled surface: dry rub, A macro close-up shot from the side of charred baby back ribs on the grill, being brushed with BBQ sauce. sauce, kosher salt & baby back ribs,

You need…

  • Baby back pork ribs – Grab a rack of baby back ribs from the butcher counter at your local grocery store (look for one that is meaty & not too fatty). This grilled ribs recipe uses a 4-pound rack of ribs, which typically serves 2-3 people as a main dish or a little more if you’re serving a big BBQ spread. Feel free to scale the recipe up if you’re feeding a larger crowd!
  • BBQ dry rub – Our go-to dry rub uses a combination of brown sugar & spices for tons of amazing sweet-spiced flavor. It’s a simple mix of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, mustard powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, & brown sugar. You may recognize it from our Grilled BBQ Chicken & Must-Have BBQ Pulled Pork – we think it’s the most delicious homemade dry rub out there!
  • BBQ Sauce – There are tons of amazing bottled BBQ sauces these days, so feel free to pick your fave. We love Lillie’s Q & the Burman’s BBQ sauces at ALDI. Both brands have varieties inspired by the major BBQ regions (Kansas City, Memphis, Texas, Carolina), making it fun to pick & choose! You can also always make your own homemade BBQ sauce, of course. Check out the Recipe Notes, below, for Mom’s pineapple sriracha BBQ sauce (inspired by our favorite Hawaii BBQ, Huli Huli Chicken!).

Baby Back Ribs Prep & Seasoning

Before you can get the ribs on the grill, you’ll need to do a little bit of prep work: remove the silverskin from the meat & season it with a homemade dry rub. (If you’ve ever made our Pressure Cooker Baby Back Ribs then this prep will feel familiar to you.) Both are very straight-forward tasks & it’s pretty much all the hands-on work required for this grilled ribs recipe – everything else is inactive cooking!

Quick & easy grilled baby back ribs prep:


Remove the silverskin. This step is vital: you need to remove the thin membrane (“silverskin”) that runs along the back of each rack of ribs. If you skip this step, the dry rub won’t penetrate the underside of the ribs, resulting in meat that is both tough & lacking in flavor. Thankfully removing the silverskin is super easy to do! Simply use the blunt end of a butter knife to loosen the membrane, then it peels right off. Need extra guidance? This video is a great step-by-step walkthrough!


Mix the BBQ dry rub & season the ribs. Make the dry rub by combining the savory, sweet & smoky spices then use it to generously season every nook & cranny of the ribs. Don’t forget to season with salt too! Why? Using a dry rub for pork ribs is so important – it imparts them with flavor throughout the entire cooking process. Unlike a marinade, the dry rub stays in contact with the meat, giving off tons of flavor as the ribs slowly cook.

An overhead shot of baby back ribs on a brown piece of butcher paper atop a white marbled surface, coated with dry rub.

*2-zone grilling

To achieve the best baby back ribs on a gas or charcoal grill, we swear by the 2-zone grilling method. A gentle indirect heat zone makes the grilled baby back ribs super juicy & tender, then a high direct heat zone finishes them off with perfect char. If you are using a charcoal grill, just be sure that you keep an eye on your charcoal to make sure the heat stays consistent. Learn more! Mastering the 2-Zone Method.

How to Grill Baby Back Ribs

This recipe uses the 2-zone grilling to gently cook the ribs until tender with indirect heat & then finish them over high heat for a quick char. We love how the grilled baby back ribs are both deliciously juicy & crispy – truly the best of both worlds! While the process takes several hours, it is entirely hands-off. Feel free to sit back & relax while the grill does all the work.


Preheat the grill. Whether you have a gas or charcoal grill, set it up with two heat zones: one with high, direct heat & a second with indirect heat. The overall grill temperature should reach about 300-400 degrees F before you start cooking. Learn more! ⇢ Grilling with the 2-Zone Method.


Cook with indirect heat. Place the seasoned baby back ribs on the grill grates (bone-side down & meaty side up). Close the lid & cook for 1 ½ hours. Be sure to rotate the rack of ribs about halfway through. Why? ⇢ Some spots on the grill are hotter than others! Rotating ensures the grilled ribs cook evenly in the indirect heat.


Wrap the ribs in foil. Carefully remove the grilled baby back ribs & wrap them in aluminum foil. Place the foil-wrapped ribs back in the indirect heat zone & cook for 30 minutes longer. Why? ⇢ At this point, the connective tissues in the meat are melting away, making the grilled ribs super juicy. The foil packets capture all that juice (aka, FLAVOR!) so we can mix it in with the BBQ sauce later. It also prevents the grilled pork ribs from drying out & falling apart. They’ll be ready to fall off the bone & you don’t want anything slipping through the grill grates.


Finish over direct heat. Remove the foil & brush the ribs with your fave BBQ sauce. Move them to the direct heat side of the grill, cooking for a few minutes longer & basting with more sauce as desired. Why? ⇢ The combination of sweet BBQ sauce & high heat gives the grilled ribs a caramelized char & extra-crispy edges. One of the BEST parts about grilled baby back ribs!

Step-by-Step Video

Alternate Cooking Method

Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs. If you don’t have a grill or prefer not to cook the baby back ribs on the grill then your oven is another great option. A conventional oven at 300 degrees replicates the same low, indirect heat zone on the grill. Simply bake the ribs on a baking sheet for 1 ½ hours & wrap them in foil for the last half hour of cooking. You can also finish the ribs with the broiler for delicious char. Full instructions are in the Recipe Notes, below!

Alternate Cooking Method

Pressure Cooker Baby Back Ribs. If you prefer to skip the long “slow & low” cook, you can also prep the best baby back ribs in an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot! Cook them with low pressure for 30 minutes, then transfer to your grill or broiler for a saucy, caramelized finish. Learn more! ⇢ Pressure Cooker Ribs.

Serving Suggestions

One of the best parts about making baby back ribs on the grill is enjoying them with plenty of sides. This grilled ribs recipe just begs to be served alongside summer cookout classics like…

An overhead shot of individual grilled ribs on a paper-lined sheet pan. A bowl of BBQ sauce sits alongside them.

I can’t wait for you to try these Grilled Baby Back Ribs! They’re so easy to make & FULL of smoky, sweet, & spiced flavor that tastes just like summer. A grilling season go-to for sure!

If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy grilling!

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A close-up overhead shot of individual grilled ribs on a white surface. Two bowls of BBQ sauce sit alongside them.

Finger Lickin’ Grilled Baby Back Ribs (Gas or Charcoal)

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  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes, Pork Recipes
  • Method: Grilling & Smoking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


With all the hype & obsession over BBQ ribs, they may seem like a super intimidating or difficult thing to make – but trust me, that’s really not the case! Learning how to cook the perfect rack of baby back ribs on the grill is so much easier than you’d expect, & this Grilled Baby Back Ribs recipe is the perfect place to start.

There are 2 simple secrets to a perfectly grilled rack of pork ribs:

  1. A killer dry rub. A dry rub imparts the ribs with flavor throughout the entire cooking process. Unlike a marinade, the dry rub stays in contact with the meat, giving off tons of flavor as the ribs slowly cook. The homemade dry rub used in this recipe is my personal favorite. It has the perfect balance of spiced, sweet, & smoky flavor & it’s perfect for all things grilled. Feel free to make a double or triple batch to keep on your spice rack this grilling season – you’ll use it on everything!
  2. Grilling with 2 zones of heat: A “low & slow” cook in an indirect heat zone ensures the ribs stay juicy & flavorful as they become fall-off-the-bone tender, while intense direct heat creates crave-worthy caramelization & charred grill marks. It takes a little time & cannot be rushed – that’s the nature of ribs! – but the grill does all the work!

From there, slather them in your favorite BBQ sauce & serve alongside whatever side dishes you love most. These grilled ribs are the perfect BBQ centerpiece & a great Sunday supper to enjoy all summer long!

Be sure to check out the blog post, above, for a ton more detail & extra guidance on ribs prep & 2-zone cooking with a gas grill or charcoal grill. Happy grilling! ♡


  • one 34 pound rack baby back pork ribs, “silverskin” membrane removed (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • PWWB BBQ dry rub (below)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce of choice (see Recipe Notes, below)

for the BBQ dry rub:

  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • optional: up to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat the grill. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking, creating a zone of direct high heat & a second zone of indirect heat. If using a gas grill, begin preheating at least 15 minutes before grilling. If using charcoal, light the charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. Learn more! Grilling with the 2-Zone Method.A woman's hand shown above an open Weber Genesis II, prepared for indirect heat grilling with one side of burners all the way open and the other side shut.
  2. Prep the baby back ribs: Generously season the entire surface of the ribs with the salt. Mix up the dry rub by adding all listed ingredients to a small bowl or jar & shaking or stirring to combine well. Sprinkle the dry rub all over the ribs, using your hands to lightly work the rub into the meat.
  3. Grill the ribs with indirect heat: Place the seasoned ribs on the indirect heat side of the grill, meaty side up. Close the grill lid. Cook the ribs with indirect heat for 1 ½ hours, carefully rotating the ribs 180° about halfway through. After 1 ½ hours, carefully remove the ribs from the grill. Wrap the ribs snuggly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then return to the indirect heat zone. Cover & grill for 30 minutes longer, or until the ribs are juicy, tender, & just about ready to fall off the bone.
  4. Finish the ribs over direct heat: Remove the ribs from the grill, transferring them to a large sheet pan & carefully unwrapping the foil. Brush your BBQ sauce or glaze of choice over the meaty side of the ribs. Transfer to the direct heat size of the grill, meaty side facing down. Grill 5-8 minutes, flipping & basting with more sauce about halfway through, until the BBQ ribs are as caramelized & charred as you like.
  5. Serve: Slice the grilled baby back ribs into individual portions & serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sides. Enjoy!


  • Ingredient Notes:
    • Removing the “silverskin” from baby back ribs: When you bring a rack of baby back ribs home from the butcher or grocery store, there will typically be a thin membrane that runs along the back of the ribs – the “silverskin” – & it needs to be removed prior to seasoning. (If the silver skin is left on, the dry rub won’t penetrate the meat & the grilled ribs will be difficult to chew!) This is very easy to do at home. I suggest using a butter knife (or something with a similar blunt edge that is not sharp) to work the silverskin off the ribs in 1 spot. From there, slide your finger under the membrane & the silverskin should pull off very easily. (If you need another visual, this simple video tutorial may be helpful.)
    • Pineapple sriracha glaze: Our favorite homemade BBQ sauce is a spicy-sticky-sweet pineapple glaze similar to Mom’s Huli Huli Chicken Sauce. To make it, combine ¾ cup pineapple juice, 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch, 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1-2 teaspoons sriracha, & ½ teaspoon each kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, & smoked paprika in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking the mixture until it’s thick & glossy, then reduce heat to medium-low & simmer 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat & set aside.
  • Storage & Reheating: Leftover grilled baby back ribs will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
  • Alternate cooking method – Slowly bake in the oven, finish on the grill: If you prefer not to cook the BBQ ribs on the grill with indirect heat for 2 hours, you can replicate Step 4 using your conventional oven. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place the seasoned ribs on a large baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, for 1 ½ hours, then wrap the ribs with foil & return to the oven for 30 minutes longer. Finish & serve according to the Recipe Directions, above, or feel free to finish the ribs with your oven’s broiler.

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

An overhead shot of individual grilled ribs on a paper-lined sheet pan. A bowl of BBQ sauce sits alongside them.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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  1. 12.25.23
    Kim Pullen said:

    The absolute BEST Back Ribs recipe on the planet! This was my first time making them ever and they came out perfect. I decided to make ribs instead of the traditional Christmas dinner meal for the family. These ribs will be our NEW annual Xmas tradition. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • 12.28.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      We LOVE hearing about our recipes becoming new traditions!! So happy to hear you loved the ribs, Kim! Merry Christmas!

  2. 9.6.23
    Amanda Natale said:

    Not sure if I missed it…what temp should the grill be at during cooking??

    • 9.7.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hey Amanda! You can find more info on two-zone grilling here – it’s the secret to the BEST grilled ribs! Please let us know if you have any more questions!! 🙂