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Last Meal BBQ Ribs Recipe: Best Barbecue Ribs Ever!

BBQ Ribs Recipe: Barbecue to Die For!

The Best BBQ Ribs Recipe Ever! This is an amazing rib recipe inspired by Meathead Goldwyn of

The GrillJunkie team some minor tweaks to this BBQ Ribs recipe for making what are justifiably donned the “Last Meal BBQ Ribs” recipe. They’ve earned this moniker for being the best barbecue ribs we’ve ever encountered, tested and tasted. They are to die for and would be a Last Meal request should we find ourselves on death’s door or death row. This BBQ Ribs Recipe start with St. Louis Cut (SLC) Pork Spareribs that are marinated in a dry rub, then grilled or smoked very low and very slow. A BBQ sauce is then added near the end and sizzled on. We’ve paid close attention to how Meathead Goldwyn of, champion pit masters, the best rib joints and a few of our Kansas City team member brethren do it in order to share it with you.

BBQ Ribs Recipe GrillJunkieReady for the best BBQ Ribs recipe? Mastering BBQ Ribs marks the difference between the casual backyard griller and the BBQ pit-master. We’re talking about the kind of BBQ ribs that win championships that have that perfect mixture of flavor, texture and aroma derived from a complex spice rub, rich and earthy hardwood smoke and tangy sweet sauce  all held together by that unmistakable flavor of pork. Juicy and tender, these ribs come cleanly off but don’t fall from the bone. The intoxicating aroma fills the air, lingers in your head and clings to your fingers for hours. A recipe that sounds complicated and challenging but we assure you that by following our ingredient list and process you will make ribs good enough to be the neighborhood BBQ Ribs legend, bring home the bacon and maybe even win a trophy in a BBQ contest. The key is to include just a few more simple steps to the usual process and your on your way to being the object of neighborhood envy.

Last Meal BBQ Ribs Recipe

Serves: 2 | Prep time: 25 minutes | Grilling time: 4-6 hours | Special equipment: Optional smoker grill and hardwood

We will be cooking low and slow at about 225° F, so you should allow 5 to 6 hours for St. Louis Cut (SLC) ribs. This recipe can be used for baby back ribs but they will take only 3 to 4 hours. Thicker, meatier slabs take longer so adjust as necessary. If you use rib holders keep in mind that they are crammed close to each other, so add an additional hour depending on your rib cut of choice.

BBQ Rib Recipe: Hardware Essentials

  • BBQ, Charcoal or Smoker Grill
  • 18 lb bag of Lump Charcoal, Wood chunks or Full tank of Propane
  • 1 pair of long handled tongsWeber Smokey Mountain
  • 1 sauce brush or mop
  • 1 digital OVEN thermometer
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Disposable aluminum pan


BBQ Rib Recipe: Ingredients

chili powderIngredients For the Ribs

  • 1 slab of fresh St. Louis Cut (SLC) ribs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ spice rub – or try our Dry Rub Recipe below
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce – or use our BBQ Sauce Recipe below


Ingredients For the Dry Rub*

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 cup medium grind kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder

* For a Cajun kick perfect for BBQ Ribs we recommend the MangiaTV spice rub

Ingredients for the BBQ Sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water

    There's nothing like homemade steak sauce.

    Ain’t nothing like homemade  BBQ Ribs sauce.

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne


BBQ Ribs Recipe: Preparation

Preparation for the Dry Rub

Mix all of the BBQ Dry Rub ingredients together in a large zipper bag or container with a sealed lid. Our recipe makes about 3 cups. We typically use about 3 tablespoons per side of a slab of St. Louis cut ribs and a bit less for baby backs. Store any extra Dry Rub in a zipper bag or a glass jar with a tight lid.

Preparation for the BBQ Sauce

Combine all of the BBQ Sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Turn heat on to low heat stirring occasionally and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. This is a St. Louis style BBQ Sauce Recipe which is designed to be thin, but not watery. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Sauce is even better if allowed to sit for a day. Here’s a quick video to help you out with the BBQ Sauce Recipe:


Preparation for the BBQ Ribs: 10 Steps

Step 1: Rinse – It is important to rinse the ribs in cool water. This removes any bone fragments that may have occurred during butchering. Pat dry with paper towels.

BBQ Ribs membrane removalStep 2: Trim and Skin – There is a membrane that is on the back of pork spare ribs. If the butcher has not removed the membrane from the back side, do it yourself. If the membrane is not removed it becomes leathery and hard to chew. This membrane also tends to keep fat in while keeping the essential smoke and sauce out. To remove the membrane, insert a butter knife under the membrane to allow enough space for your fingers. With your fingers, work a section loose, grip it with a paper towel, and peel it off. It’s actually kind of fun to do yet many choose to skip this step only to complain later on about the chewy backside of their ribs. Conquer your impatience and enjoy the power of man over meat! If you can’t get the membrane skin off, you can cut slashes through the membrane every inch with a sharp knife. Finally, trim the excess fat from both sides of the rib rack.

Step 3: Rub – Coat the entire rib rack with a thin layer of vegetable oil. The oil will help make what is fondly called “bark” which is that highly desired crust that develops on top when smoking BBQ Ribs. Once the oil is applied, sprinkle enough of the BBQ Dry Rub to coat all surfaces of the ribs but not so much that the meat doesn’t show through. That is about 2-3 tablespoons per side depending on the size of the rib slab. Spread the BBQ Dry Rub on the meat, rub it in, and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. There is an ongoing disagreement here in the GrillJunkie Test Kitchen wherein some folks insist on putting the rub on the night before. If you’re that patient it can’t hurt but we usually do not see or taste a significant difference.

Step 4: Heat Set Up – Depending on your cooker of choice whether it be gas, charcoal, BBQ, smoker or pellet grill set up your cooker for indirect cooking or what some call a 2-zone fire. This  means that one side of your grill is hot and directly over the heat source and the other is not. This is the single most important technique that determines the success for this BBQ Ribs Recipe. On a gas grill you will turn off one side of the burners to create a cooler zone whereas on a charcoal grill you will stack the charcoal on one side of the kettle to create two heat temperature zones. Put a disposable aluminum pan with water on top of the hot burner(s). Moisture and combustion gases in a propane grill combine to create a seductive, bacon-like flavor in the meat. If it has only one burner, put the water pan between the meat and the burner. If you have a Weber kettle, put about half a chimney lighter of unlit coals in the grill and put about half a chimney of fully lit coals on top to get to 225°F. A water pan is recommended.two zone bbq fire

Tip 1: Do not use a water pan on a Pellet Grill as the pellets will absorb the moisture prior to being driven into the combustion chamber and may jam the grill. 

Tip 2: Never use lighter fluid or instant igniting charcoal that has solvent in it. In fact, this nasty stuff is not allowed to be used by any GrillJunkie team member under any circumstances whatsoever. Specifically, the GrillJunkie Employee Handbook, section HR: 316, page 7, clearly states:

“the use of such material will result in immediate termination. Furthermore, such personnel will be banned and shunned from the community indefinitely and must endure a public walk of shame.”

But we digressed into an anti-Charcoal Fluid rant and apologize for selfishly getting off target. Use a Chimney Starter to fire up your charcoal instead.Weber Rapidfire Product Review

Step 5: Temperature Adjustment – Preheat your cooker to about 225° F and try to keep it there throughout the cook. This is the “Magical Temperature” in BBQ circles. This is crucial: Unless you are working with a temperature regulating Pellet Grill Smoker you cannot rely on those stock bi-metal dial thermometers that come with your grill no matter how much you paid.  Monitoring your grill with a good digital oven thermometer is a must. Keep in mind this is not a meat probe thermometer but a thermometer designed to measure the air temperature within the grill. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Do not use a dial thermometer. That would be like pushing a wet noodle uphill or heading to Mars with a roman candle. Failure is imminent and resistance is futile.

We use our a Thermowerks digital oven thermometer without failure as it is fairly inexpensive and highly accurate. On a charcoal grill equipped with air intake dampers, adjust the dampers at the bottom to control the heat. Intake dampers are more effective than exhaust dampers usually place on top for controlling the temp because they reduce the supply of oxygen to the coals. Take your time getting the temperature right. Cooking at 225°F will allow the meat to roast low and slow, liquefying the collagen in connective tissues and melting fats without getting the proteins knotted in a bunch. It’s a magic temp that creates silky texture, adds moisture, and keeps the meat tender. If you can’t hit 225° F, get as close as you can. Don’t go under 200°F and try not to go over 250°F.

Step 6: First Smoke – For charcoal or gas cookers, add 4 ounces of hardwood wood at this time. We prefer hickory. On a gas grill, put the wood as close to the flame as possible. On a charcoal grill, put it right on the hot coals. Resist the temptation to add more wood at this point. Nothing will ruin a meal faster and waste money better than over-smoked meat. You can always add more the next time you cook, but you cannot take it away if you over smoke.

WIN_20140104_143302 (2)Step 7: Family TimePut the slabs in the cooker on the indirect side of the grill, meaty side up. Close the lid, check the time and go spend some time with your family and friends for a while.

Step 8: Second Smoke – When the smoke dwindles after 20 to 30 minutes, add another 4 ounces of wood. That’s it. Stop adding wood. If you have more than one slab on, halfway through the cook you will need to move the ribs that are closest to the fire away from the heat, and the slabs farthest from the flame in closer. Leave the meat side up. There is no need to flip the slabs. Peeking is allowed once in a while but be sure you don’t leave the lid open for too long.

Step 8: The Texas Crutch(Optional with a Cautionary Note) This trick involves wrapping the slab in foil with about 3 ounces of liquid such as apple juice, for up to an hour to speed cooking and tenderize a bit. Almost all competition cooks use the crutch to get an edge. But the improvement is really minimal and we never bother for backyard grilling. If you crutch too long you can turn the meat to mush and any time in foil can soften the outer bark and remove a lot of rub. We recommend it only for competition when the tiniest improvement can mean thousands of dollars. Skip it and you’ll still have killer ribs.

Step 9: Bounce and Bend Test – Although we recommend using a good MEAT thermometer for grilling to check the internal temperature of the meat this is one of the few meats on which you cannot use a thermometer because the bones have an impact on the meat temp and because the meat is so thin. Allow 5 to 6 hours for St. Louis Cut ribs and spare ribs, or 3 to 4 hours for baby back ribs. The exact time will depend on how thick the slabs are and how steady you have kept the temp. If you use rib holders so they are crammed close to each other, add another hour. Then check to see if they are ready. We use the bend test (a.k.a. the bounce test). Pick up the slab with tongs and bounce it gently. If the surface cracks, it is ready.

Grill mop GrillJunkie

Step 10: Sauce ’em Up –  Now slather both sides of the BBQ Ribs with your favorite home made barbecue sauce, store-bought sauce or the BBQ Sauce recipe we provided and put the rib rack directly over the hottest part of the grill in order to caramelize and crisp the sauce. On a charcoal grill, just move the slab over the hot coals . On a gas grill, remove the water pan and crank up all the burners. On a water smoker, remove the water pan and move the meat close to the coals. On an offset smoker, put a grate over the coals in the firebox and put the meat there. On a pellet grill with open-flame abilities simply slide open the grease pan to allow the direct flame to reach the meat.

With the lid open so you don’t roast the meat from above, sizzle the sauce on one side and then the other. Stand by your grill, do not close the grill and watch because sweet sauces can go from caramelized to carbonized in less than a minute! One coat of a thick sauce should be enough, but if you need two, go ahead, but no more! Don’t hide all those fabulous flavors developed from the spice marinade, smoke and grilled pork under too much sauce. If you think you’ll want more sauce, put some in a bowl on the table and serve as a dipping sauce while eating. If you’ve done all this right, you will notice that there is a thin pink layer beneath the surface of the meat. This does not mean it is under cooked! It is the highly prized smoke ring caused by the combustion gases and the smoke.

Here’s our sizzling YouTube video of the entire recipe with some rocking tunes and Cajun spices:



Enjoy, pound your chest in pride, smile and cherish these precious times with your family and friends.

What are your thoughts? What Fires You Up? We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Bring it on! Leave a reply or comment. Don’t want to miss a GrillJunkie blog post? Join our Newsletter Club or subscribe to our RSS list.


Comments ( 2 )

  1. ReplyGrillJunkie BBQ Dry Rub Reviews: Perfect Bite BBQ Butt Polish

    Consistency and Texture - Although we would categorize this BBQ Dry Rub as moderately gritty, we found that the robust texture proved beneficial when we applied it to a Pork Roast, Pork Chops and Pork Shoulder (otherwise called Pork Butt or Boston Butt) helping the flavors to be absorbed easily by the meat and breaking down the texture prior to getting it on the BBQ. A good thing when trying to get an even flavor throughout a Pork Shoulder Cuban Sandwich recipe.

  2. ReplyRoy Thornburg

    I have a suggestion for cleaning racks. When you clean the cooker clean the sheves first. Use the hob top to put the racks on while applying your cleaner, then put the shelves back in the oven to soak. Spills on the hob and in the oven don't matter because you're going to clean them later anyway. Clean the hob before rinsing the racks so you've got somewhere nice and clean to put them when they're clean

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