Boiling Ribs Before Grilling

Boiling Ribs Before Grilling

Pork spareribs are one of the best barbecue staples to grill in the summertime, but mastering the perfect recipe and technique can be a challenge.

Some meat lovers boil their pork spare ribs before adding them to the grill to quickly tenderize the meat. Still, this method has mixed reviews from grill masters. In the end, it’s all about technique.

How to Boil Ribs Before Grilling

BBQ ribs are meant to be flavorful and tender, with meat falling effortlessly off the bone. Here is what you should do if you plan to boil first but still want mouth-watering flavor without grilling them for three hours. 

First, place the ribs in a large pot and cover them with plain water. There’s no need to add anything extra at this point. Bring the water to a light boil, but avoid overboiling. Too high of a temperature can destroy collagen, resulting in tough meat and a serious lack of flavor. 

Roasted Pork Spare Ribs Barbecue

The goal is to boil until the ribs are slightly soft. This should take about 25-30 minutes. Again, don’t go longer than this. Less is definitely more. 

While all of this is happening, head out and preheat the grill. Once the boiling is done, you can add bbq sauces, rubs, or whatever seasonings are part of your famous ribs recipe. 

When you have a nice, hot grill, place the ribs meaty side down and cook for 20-40 minutes, giving each side equal love on the grill. Once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, your bbq classic is ready to enjoy. 

How Long to Boil Ribs Before Grilling

Timing is everything. If you’ve heard that you should boil spareribs for about an hour, run fast and far from this advice. All you need is a parboil of 25-30 minutes, and then you should find that the meat is soft but not yet falling off the bone. 

Ultimately, you should keep your boil temperature at medium heat if you want to tenderize ribs with the boiling technique. 

Baby Back Spare Ribs Roast

Pros & Cons of Boiling Ribs Before the Grill

Barbecue enthusiasts love tender ribs, but the perfect cook can be hard to achieve using just a grill. The cooking time and temperature are essential to perfectly grilled ribs. Some cooks prefer the boiling method to tenderize and cook ribs quickly. 

Pros of Boiling Your Ribs:

  • The boiling method helps render off extra fat, making it easier to remove the inner skin before grilling
  • Cultivate tender meat without losing essential flavor
  • Shorter cook time
  • Reduces surface fat 

Cons of Boiling Your Ribs:

  • Boiling may reduce some of the natural  good smokey flavors of ribs slow-cooked on the grill
  • The wrong technique can lead to mushy, rubbery, or tasteless ribs
  • BBQ enthusiasts promote good ol’ fashioned patience and love when it comes to mouthwatering spareribs
Closeup of pork ribs grilled with BBQ

Alternatives to Boiling Ribs

Luckily, there are many techniques of grilling that don’t require you to grill, boil or simmer ribs. 

  • Slow smoking your meat is one method to delicious, tender ribs. Many cooks choose this method of low and slow cooking to create the perfect texture and taste. If you’re going to smoke your ribs, plan to smoke them at low heat for between 6-8 hours. 
  • You can also get tender, juicy ribs if you use the steaming technique. Simply place ribs with either apple juice/cider or beer in a roasting pan with water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven before transferring them to the grill. 
  • Brining is one option to create the perfect ribs. Make a simple brine solution with water and salt, adding your favorite items to enhance the flavor, such as onion or garlic. Brine overnight for flavorful, tender barbecue. 
  • Marinated ribs tend to preserve more taste and flavor while keeping the perfect texture. You can use white vinegar to add acidity to the meat, which helps break down the muscle. A homemade or commercial barbecue sauce can also work well. 
  • Lastly, simmered and braised ribs are a popular alternative to a charcoal grill method. If you low simmer your ribs with your favorite barbeque sauce, then braise with either more bbq sauce or your favorite dry rub, you’ll have tasty ribs to serve immediately. 
grilled barbecue ribs pork

Best Types of Ribs for Boiling & Grilling

When you plan to grill ribs, you typically think about a nice sparerib cut. However, baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs are two cuts that also do the job in almost any ribs recipe. 

Keep in mind that baby back ribs tend to be a more expensive cut of higher quality. These are cooked best on a smoker or small griller to get the best taste. 

Boiled smoked pork ribs
Boiled smoked pork ribs in a plate, food

St. Louis ribs are similar to spareribs because they both have less meat on the bone than baby backs. Most people ditch the oven or smoker and prefer to grill these ribs instead. 

Boiling baby back ribs before grilling would be a better choice than boiling smaller cuts like St. Louis ribs and spareribs. 


If your mouth is watering at the idea of grilled beef or pork ribs, with or without a tasty bbq sauce, learning the right technique to boil and grill ribs can level up your bbq experience. Ready to get cooking? Go grab a nice big, meaty rack and enjoy!

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