A Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Juicy and Delicious Ribs: From Preparation to Pairing


There’s nothing quite like the taste of juicy, delicious ribs. Whether you’re serving them at a summer BBQ or just craving them for dinner, cooking ribs can seem intimidating if you’re not sure where to start. Fear not though, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that will take you through all the steps from preparing the ribs to pairing them perfectly with drinks.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Ribs

Preparing the Ribs

Before you start cooking your ribs, there are a few things you need to do to prepare them. First, clean your ribs and remove any excess fat. It’s also essential that you remove the thin membrane on the bone side of the ribs as it can make the meat tough. You can easily remove it with a knife or your fingers by loosening a corner and then peeling it off.

Seasoning the Ribs

Once you have prepared your ribs, it’s time to add flavor. There are several ways to season ribs, starting with dry rubs. Apply your favorite combination of herbs and spices directly onto the meat. If you prefer a marinade, you can mix your spices into a liquid mixture of tomato sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, and more. After marinating the ribs for a few hours, you may choose to add sauce, which can be brushed on in the final stages of cooking, or served as a side.

Cooking Methods

There are several methods to cook ribs, including baking, grilling, smoking and pressure cooking.

Baking: To bake, preheat your oven to about 250°F. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and cover them with foil. Allow ribs to bake for 3-4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.

Grilling: Grilling is a popular and flavorful way to cook ribs. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Place the ribs on the grill and close the lid, cooking for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the ribs over and cook for another 10-15 minutes on the other side.

Smoking: Smoking is ideal for anyone who wants that classic BBQ taste. Begin by preheating your smoker to 225°F. Add your favorite wood chips to a smoker box or foil packet and place it on the bottom of the smoker. Add your ribs to a grate and place them in the smoker. Smoke for four to six hours.

Pressure Cooking: You can pressure cook ribs if you would like to save time. Simply add the ribs to the pressure cooking pot with some water or broth and cook under pressure for about 30 minutes. Once finished, transfer them to the oven or grill for some extra flavor.

Tips and Tricks

To ensure your ribs are tender and flavorful, there are some additional tips and tricks to follow. It’s essential to rest your ribs before cutting them. Let them rest on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes before slicing them so that they retain their juices. Additionally, check the cooking temperature to ensure your ribs are cooked correctly. Every method of cooking ribs has its preference, but you’ll want to ensure that they reach 145°F.

Top 5 Marinades for Ribs

Now that you know how to prepare, season, and cook ribs, it’s time to look at the marinades that can enhance the flavor:

Classic BBQ Sauce

Perhaps the most popular option, BBQ sauce contains all the flavors you want for your ribs. Whether homemade or commercial, you can never go wrong with a classic BBQ sauce.

Spicy Rubs

For those who prefer some heat, spicy rubs made of chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and brown sugar can give that kick you’re looking for.

Honey Mustard

Honey mustard has a perfect balance of sweet and tangy and goes well with pork ribs.


Teriyaki marinade or glaze is ideal for anyone who wants an oriental twist for their ribs.

Unconventional Options

If you’re feeling adventurous, try something different like soy sauce and lemon juice or pomegranate molasses with spices.

A Beginner’s Guide to Cooking Ribs

Basic Steps for Cooking Ribs

If you’re cooking ribs for the first time, start with some simple steps:

  1. Preheat your oven or grill
  2. Clean and season your meat
  3. Cook for the appropriate period and temperature
  4. Let the meat rest
  5. Brush your meat with sauce if you like
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Some of the most common mistakes while cooking ribs include not taking the membrane off, not cooking the meat for long enough, and overcooking the meat causing it to become dry and inedible.

Additional Tips for New Cooks

When cooking ribs, it’s essential to ensure the temperature of the oven or grill does not fluctuate too much. Maintaining a consistent temperature will produce even cooking and prevent burning in some areas while not cooking sufficiently in other places.

The Best Cooking Methods for Ribs


Baking is the easiest way to cook ribs, and it’s ideal if you’re cooking on a limited budget. It takes about 3-4 hours to slow cook ribs in an oven, and you only need a baking rack or sheet.


Grilling is perfect for anyone who wants a smokier flavor with a bit of char. The grill gets hot and creates an environment that infuses the ribs with all the flavors of wood chips. It also takes about 10-15 minutes per side to grill ribs on medium heat.


Smoking is the ultimate way to cook ribs because of the heavenly flavor it adds. Smoking requires around four to six hours, but it’s well worth the time and effort. You can use charcoal, gas or electric smokers depending on your preference.

Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking is fast and time-efficient while still keeping all the flavors of meat intact. It takes around 30 minutes to cook the meat to perfection. It also requires minimal effort, although it may remove some flavor depth.

Pros and Cons of Each Method

A perfect cooking method depends on your preferences as well as time availabilities:

Method Pros Cons
Baking Very budget-friendly , Almost “set it and forget it” cooking, Easy cleanup, No need for special equipment Dryness and toughness, Limited flavors
Grilling Infuses smoky flavors, Great charring, Short cooking times, Hands-on cooking experience Requires additional equipment, Requires maintenance and fuel, Knowledge of fire management
Smoking Intense smokiness and flavor, Texture change, Provides creativity in wood options Longer cooking times, Requires additional equipment, May require maintenance and fuel, Advanced cooking technique.
Pressure Cooking Fast and efficient, Retains flavor and juices, Easy to clean Removes flavor depth, Limited coloring and texturing

Pairing Wines with Ribs

Red Wine Pairings

Ribs are a perfect match with red wine, especially if they are tomato-based or cooked in a spicy marinade. The wine’s bold flavors complement the strong flavors of the meat. The Cabernet Franc and Shiraz are popular options.

White Wine Pairings

White wines are better suited for milder, fruitier flavors, like Pork Ribs. Zinfandel and Chardonnay pair well with these ribs.

Sparkling and Specialty Options

Sparkling wine and beer are great for a BBQ environment, as they cut through the grease and refresh the palate. Shandies, Sangrias or Margaritas are popular options for a BBQ party.

Guidelines for Food and Wine Pairing

The general rule for pairing wine with food is that there should be a balance between the flavor and intensity of the wine and those of the food. A full-bodied wine pairs best with the full-bodied and flavorful ribs.

How to Make the Perfect Cocktail to Serve with Your Ribs

Boozy Iced Teas

An Arnold Palmer (sweet tea and lemonade) is a perfect refresher for your BBQ party, but kicking it up a notch with a shot of bourbon will turn it from kid-friendly to adult-only.


Lemonades are perfect for anyone who wants some sweetness with their spiciness. Spiked strawberry lemonade or a mango lemonade can add a fun twist

Pitchers of Margaritas

Margarita is one of the most popular and versatile cocktails. You can quickly turn it into a pineapple margarita or a strawberry margarita to complement your ribs.

Other Suggestions

Other drinks to consider include cocktails made with gin, rum, or whiskey. Beer is also a great option for a BBQ party.

How to Smoke Your Ribs Like a Pro

Selecting the Best Wood for Smoking

The type of wood used for smoking has a significant influence on the flavor of your ribs. Mesquite, Hickory, and Cherry are good options, and you can use a single wood or mix them to create distinct flavors.

Regulating Temperature

The temperature should be kept constant throughout the smoking process. Use a thermometer to monitor temperature within your smoker regularly and correct it as needed.

How Long to Smoke the Ribs

The time needed to smoke ribs varies, but smoking them in a range of 4-6 hours long enough will help achieve the necessary depth of flavor and tenderness.

Other Tips and Techniques

When smoking ribs, adding moisture is crucial in preparing tender meat. Apple, grape or cranberry juice will give some sweetness to your ribs. Wrapping the ribs in aluminum foil for the final hour of cooking also helps to lock in moisture, keeping the meat tender.


Whether you’re cooking ribs for the first time or are an experienced cook, our guide has provided you with the essential steps and tips to prepare delicious, flavorful ribs. From selecting the best wood for smoking, to stocking the perfect cocktail to serve with them, you’re now ready to host the perfect BBQ.

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