4 Simple Steps To Make Baby Back Ribs

steps to making baby back ribs
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Baby back ribs are a favorite of mine, because they get the highest compliment rating for the least amount of work. For you acronym junkies, that’s a high CAW rating (Compliment to Amount of Work). Yes, I just made that up, but maybe someday, recipes the world over will include a little graph noting its CAW rating.

 Here are the 4 simple steps to remember:

Rip ‘em

Rub ‘em

Rack ‘em

Regulate ‘em

Simple. You only have to remember four R’s.

No. 1 — Rip ‘em

how to rip the membrane off baby back ribs

Rip off the membrane. This is important for ribs, but especially baby back ribs. The membrane is chewy, and some say can inhibit the smoke penetration. It’s mostly men that talk about smoke penetration, though, you know? But I digress. Removing the membrane is really easy. It’s on the bone side of the ribs. Take a spoon or knife and get a little piece of it separated. Then, with a paper towel, pull it off.

No. 2 — Rub ‘em


Use the rub of your choice. As you can see, I’ve used my cocoa bliss rub on these ribs. A shameless plug for my book, “She Smoke.” Yes, the recipe is in there.

No. 3 — Rack ‘em


For multiple racks, stack them sideways in a rib rack. I like to place them in every other slot so there is maximum…um, smoke penetration.

No. 4 — Regulate ‘em

Admittedly, a bit of a mouthful, but the most important of the four steps. Keep a constant 250°F for about 2-2.5 hours.

How do you do this?

Make a slow and low fire, indirect, and keep the lid closed! If you are cooking on gas, and no judgement there, maintaining a constant temperature will be pretty simple.

250°F is a little higher than I recommend for most barbecue, but baby backs don’t need as low temperatures as a brisket or spares. They don’t have as much tough connective tissue. I find that 250°F is the sweet spot temperature for them.

And as you know, if you’ve been paying attention, my baby backs always get a high CAW rating. Now a few things that didn’t fit into my neat little formula were wood chips or chunks and a finishing sauce at the end. To explain. Wood chips: Yes, do that. Create some smoke. If you are cooking on charcoal you won’t need as much as when cooking using gas or electric cookers. Finishing sauce: Brush on your favorite sauce in the last 30 minutes of cooking.

How do you know when they are done? I like the bend test the best. Racks should bend easily without falling apart.

Seriously every time I make baby back ribs at a party, people go nuts and all I can think of is how easy it was compared to anything else on the barbecue scale. Sure, smoked chicken thighs are something a 4-year old, were she allowed to play with fire, could do, but nobody cares about chicken thighs. And subsequently, they don’t get a high CAW rating.


17 thoughts on “4 Simple Steps To Make Baby Back Ribs

  1. Why is the Char-Broil Big Easy Roaster Smoker & Grill does not come with a Thermometer in the lid of that grill? It needed very badly and Can’t seem to get the temp correct with gas grilling.

    Kenneth Carruth

  2. How do slow cook at your recommended temperature on a four burner infrared gas grill? I tried shutting off the two center burners and still the temperature holds at about 400-500 degrees.

  3. I love to grill and as I read the 4 Rs I am salavating . Julie can come to our home ANY day . We are smoking a turkey on sunday with my redneck group! (a new experience for our midwest family) I hope to take pictures..Happy Fathers Day. Ed

  4. I love to grill and as I read the 4 Rs I am salavating . Julie can come to our home ANY day . We are smoking a turkey on sunday with my redneck group! (a new experience for our midwest Chicago family) I hope to take pictures..Happy Fathers Day. Ed

  5. To best obtain low temperatures for slow cooking I would recommend only running one burner and then using the offset cooking technique. For example, if the burner on the far right is being used, put all of your food to the far left. This style of cooking grate can hold heat really well. After preheating, please lift the cooking grates and this should alleviate some of the heat. The hook from the Brush Hawg Grill Brush or a similar tool can be used to safely lift the cooking grates.

  6. The main reason the Big Easy Smoker Roaster & Grill doesn’t have a temperature gauge in the lid is because this gauge would be reading air temperature instead of the actual surface temperature of the cooking cooking surface…always the most important equipment temperature when grilling. Traditional gas grills generally have thermometers in the cabinet hood – which measure hot air in the chamber when the hood is closed. That’s OK for roasting meat, but grilling occurs on the grate surface and that temperature is difficult to measure without a fairly pricey hand-held digital IR measurement device (you may have seen these used in auto repair shops and by HVAC engineers to check for hot spots on surface of motors and heating/AC air ducts.) OR with analog grate thermometers you can purchase from various suppliers online and at some kitchen stores.

    WHY don’t Big Easy cookers come with temperature gauges? Primarily because the cookers are designed as roaster/fryers using infrared. IR cooks in a different way from traditional hot air grills and ovens. Hot air in the Big Easy is excess – because the cooker using infrared generated on the walls of the cooking chamber…this infrared energy radiates to the meat and “turns to heat on the surface of the meat”…and does not use air to conduct the heat. Most all traditional gas grills and indoor ovens use hot air to heat the food. The heat generated on the surface of the meat cooks inward without drying out the meat…

    For owners of the Big Easy Smoker, Roaster & Grill – this excess heat can be converted into more infrared by means of the grate system.

    Specific to your questions – the only temperature gauge you need when cooking with any of the Big Easy cookers is an trusted accurate meat thermometer to check the internal temperature (IT) of the meat. As it cooks you’ll see the IT rise and that’s the significant ‘difference’ in learning to use the infrared cookers from Char-Broil.

    For more tips, tricks and ideas for cooking on/in any of the Big Easy models, check out the Char-Broil LIVE Community Forums — there is a link at the top of this page! , which would again, not allow a temperature gauge in the top of the lid to read correctly. For the most accurate temperature readings please use a meat thermometer.

  7. I got my new Tru-Infrared grill.
    I also bought a Thermapen.
    When you say, “Keep a constant 250F degrees for about 2-2.5 hours.”
    Go by readings on the built in grill thermometers?
    Or should I touch the grates with my Thermapen?


  8. Congrats on the new grill! The temperature gauges on the grill should be able to provide an accurate reading of the cooking temperatures. I would go by these, but it never hurts to have a backup tool. – Dustin

  9. If you’re placing the wood directly on the grates of your grill, you’ll want to use wood chips.

  10. Simple. Add APPLE wood chips or chunks to your smoker for smoking baby backs. I usually just add two big fistfuls of chips to the firebox every 30 minutes or so for the first 90 minutes of smoking. Then, you can spray the ribs with apple juice and finish them in the smoker without wood chips for smoke. when internal temp of 185F is achieved in the thick part of a rib, you can baste them with your favorite sauce and return them to the smoker until internal temp is 195 and not a degree more.

    In general, I use:

    APPLE: pork
    PECAN: chicken and some pork
    MESQUITE: beef, bison
    HICKORY: burgers, beef, And a half handful added to apple for baby backs.
    CHERRY: game birds, chicken, fish, and exotics like ostrich,

    Hope this helps.

  11. Hi Tim, after preheating on high for 15 minutes, you will want to turn your Big Easy down to a lower setting for the slow and low cooking method. You will want to leave the ribs in until they reach an internal temperature of 190F, as ribs at a lower temperature tend to be very tough. Enjoy!

  12. I just received the additional turkey fryer package which includes two racks for the basket. The problem I have is that the racks are too small for the basket, they do not fit. Can you send me the correct size. This is very disappointing.

  13. Hi, we are very sorry to hear about this. Please contact Customer Support and they will help resolve the issue for you.

    Monday – Friday
    8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Eastern
    9:00 AM – 8:00 PM Eastern
    Have a question about a product? Call the grill service center directly at 1-800-241-7548.

  14. Which side do I cook first the bone side or the other side for spare ribs? How offer or when do you turn them over

  15. Hi Juliea, you want to start cooking the ribs bone side down. Generally, you will want to let the ribs cook the entire time bone side down.

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