How To Grill Ribs On Charcoal – Simple Steps & Recipes

The grilled rib is a delicious dish that we like eating as a family. On the other hand, this meat type is quite tricky to prepare, especially with the charcoal method. The challenge now is how to grill ribs on charcoal accurately? 

This article offers eight helpful instructions, which will help you make your meal with charcoal-grilled ribs perfectly. 

After attempting to prepare this meal several times, we discovered certain pointers that most novices should be aware of when grilling ribs with charcoal at home. As a result, follow our instructions, and you’ll surprise your family with your perfect grilled ribs dish! 

how to grill ribs on charcoal grill ft

In general, this is what you’ll discover in our blog post today: 

Are you curious about it yet? If so, scroll to the bottom, and here we go!

How To Cook Ribs On A Charcoal Grill

Here’s the main part of our guideline on how to grill ribs on charcoal. If you already own a charcoal grill and frequently host BBQ parties, you certainly already have the majority of these things:

Ingredients

Equipment

  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal grill
  • Hardwood chunks
  • Meat rub 
  • Rack of ribs (baby back or sparerib)
  • A large knife
  • A disposable aluminum pan
  • A meat thermometer
  • Meat scissors
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil

Liquid Seasoning

Spice Rub

  • Brown sugar
  • Oregano 
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Black or white pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • Onion powder

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Prepare Ribs

Proper planning seems to be the key to a successful round of grill ribs. It may affect the success or failure of your dinner, and skipping it will result in bland, substandard ribs. Merely tossing them on your grill as you purchased them was not trying to cut it. 

We recommend using pork ribs for your ribs. There are two options: spare or baby back ribs. 

Because the spare is from the belly-end part, it is meatier. Baby backs may be a little narrower, but they’re still a great option. Grilling time for the rack of spare ribs is typically 4 or 5 hours and 3 or 4 hours of cooking the racks of baby back ribs.

Also, it’s crucial to remember that the amount of the meat rack you may cook at once is determined by the grill. We need the whole of the ribs exposed at once; therefore, stacking them over the top to one another is not a smart idea.

Step 2: Use A Ribs Rub

Using a nice marinade, as with many cuts of meat, is an important stage of seasoning. It helps infuse flavor into the ribs while it cooks and creates a light crust outside pork, giving it that delicious crunch when eating. 

Marinated ribs grilling
Marinated ribs grilling

Some people prefer to use Barbecue sauce, but ribs with great rub ingredients are far superior to ribs with Barbecue sauce. Pork ribs are readily available on the internet and in supermarkets, or you may create yours by carefully combining your favorite spice mixture and herbs in a dish. 

Spread a good amount of your preferred rub on the ribs. Then, cover the whole surface of the ribs rack, including the bottom and borders.

This process must be done soon before grilling. Many people prepare it much farther ahead, but this can cause a risk of  the seasonings curing the meat, making it taste almost like ham. 

It would be best if you split the slab in half before cooking the ribs. Several rib racks are too large to fit on a standard barbecue cooking grate. As a result, you must trim them down to a suitable size. 

Put the marinated and sliced ribs aside and take them out when your grill is ready.

Step 3: Prepare The Charcoal Grill

The main goal here is to convert your ribs into a smoker box. It requires some expertise since we need to maintain a steady temperature of around 250oF. It will necessitate not just using a decent soldering iron but also some knowledge of indirectly grilling. 

Charcoal grill preparation
Charcoal grill preparation

If you’re not familiar with indirect cooking, it’s a technique that involves placing charcoal wood chunks underneath one half of the grill grate while leaving the other side clean. Then, place the meat on the clear side of the grill, enabling the heat from within the grill to cook it instead of the direct high heat from the fire. 

With this method, we’ll be a little more inventive and enlist the assistance of your disposable aluminum pan.

We’ll fill it with water and utilize it to give moisture to the grilling area, which will aid in grill temperature regulation. 

Before grilling, ensure your grill’s grates and drums are completely clean. There are several advantages to maintaining a clean grill, so if yours is unclean, set aside half an hour to thoroughly clean it. 

When the grilling grate is clean, remove it and fire the charcoal. You’ll need to have enough charcoal to fill half of a grate surface, as well as 2-3 charcoal layers.

When igniting your charcoal, lay it at the grill’s bottom, covering only half of the grill area. Insert several big hardwood pieces to the charcoal. It will assist us in producing smoke during the healing process. 

Replace the cooking grate on your grill. Fill the aluminum pan halfway with water, set it just over the coals on the side of the grate. The goal is to maintain a steady flow of steam going but pay attention: if it runs out, you’ll need to replace it right away.

Step 4: Grill Ribs On Charcoal 

Now that your grill is set, let’s get these ribs cook-off started! Place the racks on the grate grill, making sure that they are on the grate part that does not have charcoal below it, adjacent to your water pan. Put the rack’s ribs facing down. 

After about an hour, check on your ribs and make sure that the charcoal remains burning evenly and your grill is hot. Ensure there is enough water inside the pan to keep a steady flow of steam going. 

Flip the ribs over, then add some more firewood pieces to the fire for a more even roast.

Grilling ribs on a charcoal
Grilling ribs on a charcoal

Step 5: Wrap Ribs

Check on your ribs around an hour later. It would be best if you were slightly curved without any breaking.

Let them grill for a bit longer if they’ve not reached this degree yet. But, provided they bend well, double cover the ribs with aluminum foil. It helps raise the humidity level of the pork while still retaining temperature, making it particularly juicy. 

Return the covered ribs to the grill. Check your coals and water once more. This time, don’t add any additional wood chunks because the ribs may have soaked enough smoke.

Step 6: The Smoking

It’s time to enter the home stretch. Take the ribs away from the disposable foil and set them back on the grill after around an hour. Cook it for 30-60 more minutes. Your final round of grilling will gently dry the rib’s surface to provide some wonderful texture and smoky flavor. 

The last temperature we want to get is about 180oF. It is because that is the highest temperature you can get while keeping the pork tender before it begins to come off its bone. 

Check the internal temperature of your ribs with a cooking thermometer. 

Sparerib or baby back are among the most difficult meat cuts to precisely check temperature owing to the limited quantity of meat lying on them. 

The bones would have a different temperature range than the meat; therefore, when using the thermometers, ensure the reading is in the flesh and not in touch with those bones. 

If this becomes too tough, you might use a more visual approach. Lift your ribs in the center. Take note of the bone’s ends. They are ripe perfectly when they hang freely down. 

Your ribs are ready if they have attained our desired internal temperature or passed the sight test with a drooped end.

If you’re using a sauce, leave them on your grill and go to the following step. If not, take the grill away and set it aside.

Step 7: Apply Barbecue Sauce (Optional) 

Apply your favorite Barbecue sauce whenever the ribs are almost done. Be cautious: as tempting as it may be to smear on your sauce heavily, we highly advise applying it in a single layer. It will result in a pleasant and chewy surface for your ribs. 

Apply BBQ sauce on grilled ribs
Apply BBQ sauce on grilled ribs

If you spread it too heavily, it will not dry, leaving us with a nasty wet covering. 

Coating gently, starting with a thin layer on one side and working your way around to the other. After coating all sides, shut the grill’s cover and let it sit for 4 or 5 minutes before doing it all again for 4-5 times. When finished, take it away from the heat and set it aside.

Step 8: Serve Up

If you want to serve the ribs right away, you’ll have to carve them. 

Lay the ribs on a cutting board with its bone side up. Utilizing a long, sharp knife and tongs, evenly move the knife between these bones. It should result in an equal and consistent cut from the ribs track. 

The ribs shouldn’t have to cool further because they must have cooled adequately throughout the chopping process.

Tips For Grilling Ribs On Charcoal

When it comes to cooking ribs, many beginners should be aware of a few pointers. All of these suggestions have been compiled for your convenience. Keep them in your mind, and you’ll delight this family with the delectable flavors of your charcoal grilled ribs! 

Charcoal-grilled ribs
Charcoal-grilled ribs

Choose The Right Grilling Method To Make Ribs Tender 

Slow cooking at medium-low heat is the key to delicious ribs on the grill. It lets the collagen in tough meat progressively degrade and melt throughout the long cooking period.

Whenever your ribs are too tough, merely cook them for a longer period, as soon as you’ve reached the correct grilling temperature. 

Perfect Temperature Setting

It is better to cook ribs at steady temperatures ranging from 225 to 250 degrees. This temperature is low enough to convert the ribs into delicate pieces of meat without burning or scorching the flesh during grilling. High heat cooking temperatures run the danger of drying out your meat before it becomes tender enough.

The 3-2-1 Ribs Method 

For smoking ribs on the grill in a smoker, we prefer the 3-2-1 rib method. What exactly is this method?

First and foremost, it is intended for spareribs and relates to the duration of the cooking process. 3 hours smoked, 2 hours covered in foil, 1 hour unwrapped. This approach guarantees wonderfully tender ribs all the time! 

If you use racks of baby back ribs, do the same procedure but alter the ratio to 2-2-1. Because baby back ribs are less fatty so they don’t require much cooking time to tenderize. 

Solution For Troubleshooting 

If you’re having trouble keeping a medium-low heat, decrease the first grilling time and cover them in a layer of foil more easily. Meanwhile, the greater temperature risks drying out our meat. 

Cook Until Ribs Fall Off Its Bone 

Ribs should not come away from the bones. Ribs that fall off are just overdone. 

It happens at bad restaurants whose ribs come apart in the unusually extended waiting period of time before being served. 

When you pull, the meat must softly come free from rib bones, but it never should fall off its bone. Rib meat that has fallen off mushy and lacks substance.

Recommended Side Dish Recipes With Grilled Ribs 

If you’re going to the trouble of cooking ribs on charcoal, you may need some equally delicious side dishes to go along with it!  

Our recommendation is to place additional smash potatoes on the empty area on our plate, as well as a large quantity of slow-baked beans and a delectable homemade coleslaw salad!

Slow-Cooked Beans

Slow-Cooked Beans

Slow-Cooked Beans

Baked beans are a must-have side dish for the summer. Because of the taste harmony, it is very popular as a side dish to accompany grilled ribs.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 7 people
Calories 254 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 1 pound navy beans soaked overnight
  • A chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup chopped bacon
  • Smashed garlic clove
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/3 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
Instructions
 
  • When you're ready to go, drain your beans and place them in a slow cooker
  • Then, add the sweet onion, diced bacon, and garlic clove.
  • Fill your slow cooker halfway with water, cider vinegar, ketchup, and dark brown sugar. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
Nutrition:
  • Calories 
  • Fat 
  • Total carbs
  • Fiber 
  • Protein 
  • Iron
Keyword beans, ribs, slow-cook

Smash Potatoes

Grilled ribs and mashed potato dish

Smash Potatoes

Isn't mashed potatoes restricted to specific occasions such as Christmas or Thanksgiving? We'll grant you to eat these 15-minute mashed potatoes whenever you want because, honestly, you wouldn't even have to boil water to prepare them; plus, they go well with your grilled ribs.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 people
Calories 92 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 6 large peeled russet potatoes
  • 4 tsp unsalted butter
  • Chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
Instructions
 
  • Place the potatoes in a medium-sized microwave-safe dish in a thin layer. Microwave it on high heat until you can easily puncture your potatoes with a fork (about 7-10 minutes).
  • Immediately smash the heated potatoes in the microwave-safe dish using a potato masher.
  • Decant the half-and-half over your potatoes and top with a dab of butter. Put the potatoes back in your microwave for about 1 minute to reheat. To mix, stir everything together thoroughly. Come back to the microwave for another 1 minute. Sprinkle it with salt to taste.
  • Cover firmly with the plastic wrap and keep inside your refrigerator for almost a day if made ahead. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds until it's well warmed. Then, garnish with chives if desired.
Notes
Nutrition:
  • Total Calories: 92 (for 151g)
  • Fat 
  • Saturated fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Carbohydrates
Keyword potatoes, ribs

Coleslaw Salad

Coleslaw Salad

Is there any classic summer meal that coleslaw does not compliment? It provides much-needed crunchy and beautiful brightness to our heartier recipes, and it's sometimes the only veggie on your platter of grilled ribs that you love.
Nothing, however, is more depressing than a dish of a tasteless gloppy, store-bought coleslaw. Fortunately, we skip the mayonnaise in this spicy coleslaw recipe and instead use a zesty vinegar foundation. Consequently, the flavors of this version are much lighter and more delicious and go well with grilled ribs.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people
Calories 170 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 1/2 head shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 head shredded green cabbage
  • 4 peeled and shredded carrots
  • Thinly sliced bunch scallions
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard or mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • Salt
  • Black or white pepper
Instructions
 
  • To begin, combine the cabbage and carrots in a large mixing basin. Then stir them with the scallions.
  • Inside a medium mixing bowl, add the rice vinegar, yogurt, coconut oil, mustard, and lime zest. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss the veggies with the sauce until evenly covered. Refrigerate it about 3- 4 hours before eating if you do not serve it immediately.
Notes
Nutrition: 
  • Calories 
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Sodium 
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Carbohydrates
Keyword ribs, salad

Final Thought

You now understand how to grill ribs on charcoal properly. If you properly follow our instructions, you may never fail to prepare delicious smoked meat again! 

Our three recommended grilled ribs side dishes above are a must-try! They are extremely tasty, simple to make and go great with charcoal ribs. Of course, if you have any more fantastic recipes, don’t forget to share them with us.

Roger Lee
Roger Lee

Thanks for visiting my website. My name is Roger Lee, and I am a 30-year-old man with a hybrid blood of Chinese and Russian. I decided to set up this site to share with everyone my love and passion for open-air cuisine. It all started when my parents opened a restaurant and I had the chance of getting exposed to the art of outdoor cooking.
This website aims at sharing about my hobby, recipes, and tips for cooking to everyone. Try them out and tell me about your experience.