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How to Cook Tender and Juicy Ribs on a Charcoal Grill

Are you ready to take your grilling game to the next level? Grilling ribs on a charcoal grill can be a bit intimidating, but with the right techniques, you can achieve tender and juicy ribs that will make your taste buds dance. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know to cook ribs on a charcoal grill like a pro.

How to Cook Tender and Juicy Ribs on a Charcoal Grill

Choosing the Right Ribs

The first step in making delicious ribs is choosing the right cut of meat. Baby back ribs are the most popular choice and are a great option for beginners. They are smaller and more tender than other cuts, making them easier to cook. Spare ribs are larger and meatier, but they require a longer cooking time. When selecting ribs, look for meat that is pink and well-marbled with fat.

Preparing the Ribs

Before you start grilling, you’ll need to prepare the ribs. Start by removing the membrane from the back of the ribs. This will help the rub and smoke penetrate the meat more evenly. Next, season the ribs with your favorite dry rub. Be generous with the rub and make sure to coat both sides of the meat. Let the ribs sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

Setting up the Grill

To cook ribs on a charcoal grill, you’ll need to set up a two-zone fire. This means that you’ll have hot coals on one side of the grill and no coals on the other side. This will allow you to sear the meat over high heat before moving it to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking. To set up a two-zone fire, light a chimney starter full of charcoal and pour it onto one side of the grill. Place a drip pan on the other side of the grill and fill it with water.

Cooking the Ribs

Once the grill is hot and the coals are ashed over, it’s time to start cooking the ribs. Place the ribs on the hot side of the grill and sear for 3-4 minutes per side. This will create a nice crust on the meat. Once the ribs are seared, move them to the cooler side of the grill and close the lid. Let the ribs cook for 2-3 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 185-190°F.

Adding Smoke

To add flavor to the ribs, you’ll want to add some smoke to the grill. Soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the coals. Hickory, apple, and cherry wood are all great options for smoking ribs. Add the wood chips to the hot coals and let the smoke infuse the meat for the first hour of cooking.

Mopping the Ribs

Mopping the ribs with a sauce or marinade is another way to add flavor and keep the meat moist. You can use your favorite BBQ sauce or make your own marinade using ingredients like apple cider vinegar, honey, and spices. Brush the sauce onto the ribs every 30 minutes during the last hour of cooking.

Resting and Serving

Once the ribs are fully cooked, it’s time to let them rest. Remove the ribs from the grill and let them rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into them. This will allow the juices to redistribute and make the meat even more tender. Serve the ribs with your favorite sides and enjoy!


Cooking tender and juicy ribs on a charcoal grill takes a bit of practice, but with the right techniques, anyone can do it. Choosing the right ribs, preparing them properly, setting up the grill, and adding smoke and flavor are all key steps in making delicious ribs. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be grilling up restaurant-quality ribs in no time. So fire up the grill, grab your favorite dry rub and BBQ sauce, and get ready to impress your friends and family with your amazing grilling skills.

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