How to Grill Ribs on Propane Grill

Having delicious pork ribs on every summer cookout is what the grilling enthusiasts wish for. However, mastering this dish is not as simple as grilling pork chops or tenderloin. You need to keep an eye on the meat, learn to optimize the grill temperature and most importantly wait for hours before you get to eat the mouthwatering grilled ribs. 

This guide on how to grill ribs on propane grill has all you must know before starting the cooking process. 

How to Grill Ribs on Propane Grill – The Basics 

Find the Right Meat 

 If you want to experience grilled ribs at their best, ask your butcher for baby back ribs. This is the cut from the top of spare ribs, just below the loin area. They have a smaller size as compared to other rib cuts and, therefore, are called baby back ribs. Generally, a back rib rack weighs around 1.5-2 pounds and contains 10-12 ribs. 

Since they are tender and lean than other rib cuts, you can expect their prices to be higher. Nonetheless, the taste is worth the cost. 

Maintaining Consistent Heat in a Gas Grill 

If you can’t operate your gas grill accurately, you can’t cook your pork ribs up to the par. So, if you are new to smoking, learn to control the temperature of your gas grill before starting to cook. 

For baby back ribs, a grill temperature of 225-250°F is optimum to prevent the drying of meat. Also, owing to the long cooking time of ribs, it is best to set an indirect heating zone in the grill. You can do this by not lighting all the burners. 

Removing the Silver Skin 

Though not necessary, experts like pulling out the skin to avoid having something chewy with their perfectly cooked meat. If you too want to do it, a butter knife is all you will need. Start by inserting the butter knife under the membrane from one end of the rib. 

Next, use your fingers to hold and remove the skin from beneath. It will come off easily. 

The Grilling Time

The grilling time varies with the type and size of the meat, grilling temperature and surrounding conditions. However, generally, a medium-sized rack takes about 3 hours. For a cut smaller than this, you can expect cooking time to be somewhere around 2 hours. Similarly, a thick slab can even take 4 hours or more. 

Determining the Doneness of Pork Ribs 

This is the most confusing part of cooking ribs. While cooking for an extended period can turn the meat dry, grilling it for a shorter period can lead to tougher meat. Therefore, for grilling the ribs to perfection, consider these 3 points to detect doneness: 

  • Temperature: After the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145°F, it is safe to consume. But continue cooking until 190-200°F to have more tender and juicy meat. 
  • Bones: Once the ribs are cooked, the bones in the meat will be easily visible. 
  • Cracks: As you lift the ribs from tongs, some cracks will start to appear on the surface. 

How to Grill Ribs on Propane Grill – Step-by-Step Guide 

What You’ll Need 

  • 1 rack of pork ribs (preferably baby back ribs) 
  • Orange marmalade (½ cup) 
  • Apple cider vinegar (¼ cup) 
  • Unsweetened apple juice (1 cup)
  • Disposable aluminum tray 
  • Aluminum foil 

Rub Ingredients

  • Brown sugar (8 tablespoons)
  • Kosher salt (3 tablespoons)
  • Chili powder (1 tablespoon) 
  • Grounded black pepper (1 teaspoon)
  • Garlic powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Onion powder (1 teaspoon)

Step 1: Prep the Pork Ribs 

Take the ribs out of the packaging and pat dry them using a paper towel. Check if there are any bone chips in your ribs. Scrape them in tap water or use a butter knife to take them out. 

Pull off the silver skin if you want the meat to be completely tender. Some people prefer cooking the ribs with the skin-on. But since the skin gets tough after cooking, it’s better to remove it. Also, without a membrane, the rub ingredients can penetrate thoroughly throughout the meat.

The rack of ribs may be difficult to handle while grilling. Cut them in half to make cooking simpler. 

Step 2: Prepare the Rub 

Add all the rub ingredients to a jar. Place a lid on the jar and shake it to mix everything. If grilling multiple racks of ribs, adjust the ingredients keeping in mind the ratio of 8:3:1:1. 

Sprinkle the mixture on the meat and rub it thoroughly on both sides. If not in a rush, apply the rub a day before grilling, wrap it and refrigerate. Or go with seasoning your ribs some hours before grilling.

Step 3: Transfer the Ribs in Aluminum Tray 

Brush the aluminum pan with cooking oil and place the ribs in it. Pour apple juice into the tray and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the tray in the fridge until the propane grill has attained the desired temperature. 

Step 4: Preheat the Propane Grill 

Turn on the burners and wait until the grill heats up to 250°F. Maintaining this temperature throughout the cooking process is necessary to prevent uneven grilling. Also, pork ribs take a long time to cook. So, cooking them on indirect heat will help keep the outer surface from burning. 

Check if the grates require cleaning. Scrape the debris away and season the grill with a thin layer of oil.

Grilling ribs will take more than an hour. Make sure you have a sufficient gas supply to ensure consistent heating.  

Step 5: Transfer the Ribs to the Grill 

Once the grill reaches 250°F, take the aluminum pan and place it over the grate. Put the lid on and leave the meat to cook for two hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. You can check this by poking a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the pork ribs. 

For cooking super-tender pork ribs, allow them to grill until the thermometer reads 190-200°F for the thickest part. 

Step 6: Sear the Pork Ribs 

While the meat is being cooked, add marmalade and apple cider vinegar in a small pot. Whisk them over low flame until uniformly combined. Now, check if your pork ribs are cooked to the desired temperature. 

Coat them with the marmalade sauce and cook directly on the grate for 5 minutes. Brush the sauce again and grill the ribs for an additional 5 minutes. 

Step 7: Serve! 

Finally, take the pork ribs out of the grill and place them on a cutting board. Leave them for 10 minutes to let the meat achieve the final temperature. The rest period also lets the rub ingredients integrate evenly in the meat. Next, cut and serve! 

Pro Tips 

  • Before starting to grill pork ribs, practice operating the grill skillfully.  
  • Do not underestimate the importance of a meat thermometer. The cooking time can substantially vary from situation to situation. Hence, the only tool to detect accurate doneness is a meat thermometer. 
  • Start checking the doneness of your ribs after 2 hours. 

Wrapping Up 

To save you from searching for relevant information from different guides, we have tried covering this grilling recipe right from the scratch. Hence, following it is all you need to cook flavorful, juicy and perfectly cooked ribs. Also, don’t forget to pair them with side dishes like corn on the cob or potato salad.