An easy way to grill St Louis ribs without cooking them all day, they cook in about 50 minutes on the gas grill. These ribs are made with a simple dry rub along with lime juice and fresh garlic. They are very juicy and tender!
Want some amazing grilled ribs without marinating for hours or cooking half of the day? I know that around an hour isn’t as quick as some would think, but it is compared to a 4 hour cook time! These ribs are so easy and use a simple dry rub with some fresh lime juice.
I know some people insist you have to slow cook ribs for them to be delicious, but really you do not. Quite often they over cook the ribs to break down the fibers, but sometimes they are a bit more dried out after cooking all day. When grilling St Louis ribs, we prefer to cook them quicker. They always turn out juicy and tender!
We do not use a marinade either. Marinating isn’t something we do a lot here, besides our lime and garlic chicken marinade. Why is that? We prefer the taste of the meat with some spices, a marinade often takes over the flavor.
Ready to learn how to cook St Louis style ribs on a gas grill?
Ribs – We use a rack of St Louis ribs that is about 5 pounds. You can use the size you need for the people you are feeding. This grilled recipe will work for spare ribs too.
Lime – For flavor and also to help create a tender rack of ribs. No substitutions recommended.
Garlic – Fresh chopped is best for flavor.
Paprika – Can use smoked paprika or regular. Smoked adds a nice flavor!
Salt – Table salt or sea salt.
Ground chipotle – Recommended but optional. It is not enough to be spicy, but adds a nice smoky flavor.
How to make grilled ribs quick and easy
First thing is to pull the rack of St Louis style ribs out of the fridge, remove it from the packaging and place it on a surface like a large cutting board. I recommend keeping the fat on it to help keep the meat tender.
If you are removing the membrane, do it before putting the seasonings on it.
Once you place it on the surface, rub the juice from the lime over both top and bottom of the ribs. Next rub the minced garlic and dry rub all over the ribs – top and bottom. Let them sit for about 15 minutes (a little longer is ok.)
Gas grills vary, but you want it to be around 350-375 degrees and cook on direct heat for a slight crispy outside or indirect heat for an all around tender rack of ribs. Once your grill is heated and ready, place the ribs on the grill bone side down. Let them cook without lifting the lid (unless you suspect a flareup) for 35 minutes.
After 35 minutes, flip over and cook another 15 minutes before checking the internal temperature. Grilled ribs need to be cooked to at least 145 to be a safe temperature, but at 145 they will still be slightly pink. We personally prefer ours to be closer to 160-165 for best flavor and texture. Let them to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
If you are looking to do more then 1 rack of ribs at a time or if you would like grill space for something else, you can cook them standing up in a rib rack. You don’t flip them if using a rib rack.
Can I add BBQ sauce to my St Louis ribs?
Yes you can add BBQ sauce and it is delicious! We add it often to ribs, especially our baby back ribs. But we highly recommend waiting until just before flipping them or serving BBQ sauce with them at the table. If you add the BBQ sauce to your ribs at the beginning of cooking, you run the chance of drying out the meat.
Sometimes we serve bowls of BBQ sauce on the table but here is how we cook ribs with sauce if we choose to cook them with it on:
Cook for the 35 minutes, rub BBQ sauce over the top with a basting brush – we recommend a silicone brush. Flip the ribs and cover the bone side with BBQ sauce. Cook for about 15 minutes and flip again for another 10 minutes.
This adds 10 minutes to cook time but it is important to not add the sauce too early in cook time. Be sure to check the internal temperature with a thermometer.
How do I add a smoke flavor to my ribs?
You will use wood chips or pieces that come in a variety of choices. With St Louis style ribs we really like the apple wood chips, but you experiment and try different flavors!
Heat the smoke box up on the grill grates (without the wood first.) Using long tongs, open the box and add the wood chips. Alternately you can heat the box with the wood chips in it to not burn yourself.
Once the grill has smoke coming out of it, lower the temperature of the burner that the box is on. Add the ribs and cook as directed. If you are cooking indirect heat, put the box over the middle burner that will be off when cooking the ribs.
Cutting the ribs
Cutting the ribs may seem complicated the first time you make them, but I promise they are not!
There are times that the bones are slightly off and sitting on a different angle after cooking. You may run into a bone that is curved in a funky way while cutting. No worries, just cut around it.
After grilling St Louis ribs and you let them rest for a few minutes, flip the ribs over so they are bone side up. You can see how the bones run, they are usually fairly straight.
Cut in between the bones. If you find one or two harder to cut, you probably hit a bone. Do not attempt to cut the bone. It’s not recommended for your knife and you do not want splintered bones. Simply move the knife a little and cut around it.
For safety reasons, be sure your knife is very sharp when cutting.
Frequently asked questions
No it doesn’t. Direct heat gives you a slightly crisper outside with a nice flavor, but indirect gives you a more tender outside.
Yes they do have a membrane on the bone side just like baby back ribs. It is up to you if you would like to remove it before cooking. We usually leave it on with these ribs as it helps to keep some of the moisture in them as they cook bone side down.
Many people swear you have to remove the membrane, but it is not required.
Yes you can, but cook times may vary slightly. I have not tested it on the charcoal grill to verify the times you need.
When they are cooked properly, yes they are very tender! They have more meat and less fat then baby back ribs so you do have to cook these properly in order to be perfectly juicy and tender.
It is one reason we leave the membrane (optional) on as well as cooking bone side down for most of the cooking. The bones along with the membrane will help keep the moisture in the meat as it cooks.
Yes you can use either spare ribs or St Louis ribs for this recipe.
Other great grilled dishes
Quick and Easy Grilled Ribs
- 3-5 pounds St Louis rib rack or spare ribs
- 1 lime
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground chipotle see notes
- Heat grill to 350-375° Fahrenheit. See notes.
- Place the rib rack on a surface like a cutting board. Squeeze the juice from the lime all over the top and bottom of the ribs.Rub the minced garlic over top and bottom of the ribs as well. Let sit for about 15 minutes.3-5 pounds St Louis rib rack, 1 lime, 2 cloves garlic
- Mix together salt, paprika and chipotle. Rub all over both top and bottom of the ribs. Sit for another 5-10 minutes.2 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground chipotle
- Place bone side down and cook for 35 minutes. Do not open lid unless you suspect a flare-up. See notes if you would like to add BBQ sauce.
- After 35 minutes, flip and cook for another 15-20 minutes with the lid closed.Pork needs to be cooked to at least 145°Fahrenheit, but they will still be slightly pink. We prefer our ribs to be between 160-165° Fahrenheit for best texture and flavor.
- Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting the ribs.