Quick Guide to Boiling Ribs Before Grilling: 6 Easy Steps

If boiling ribs before grilling sounds like an unnecessary step, think again!

When you boil ribs before grilling them, it actually makes the meat more tender, juicy, and flavorful. Not to mention they’ll be less likely to fall off of the bone.

In this article, I’ll teach you how to boil ribs for your barbecue or grill.

What Do Ribs Consist of

We all know that ribs are cut from meaty parts of meat just below the shoulder.

Boiling ribs before grilling actually makes the end result a lot juicier and tastier

The main muscle groups used in the cut are the pectoral muscles (which run along both sides of the spine) and part of the abdominals (stomach). There’s a membrane on the back that you’ll need to remove.

It calls the pleura, and it can be challenging to remove when cooked.

However, while boiling ribs, you have more control over this process and have more of a chance of getting rid of it intact.

You’ll need to separate the ribs into two different cuts, which are essentially known as baby backs and spare ribs.

Both of them contain a decent amount of meat. But baby back ribs have less fat than spare ribs, hence why they are considered healthier.

How to Boil the Ribs Before Grilling

Step 1: The first thing you need to do is get a big pot of water and put it on the stove at high heat.

Step 2: Next, cut up some garlic into small chunks, and throw them in with the ribs for flavor.

Step 3: Let the ribs boil for about fifteen minutes before turning off the heat.

Step 4: Afterwards, remove the ribs from the water since they are now cooked thoroughly.

Step 5: Then brush your choice of sauce onto both sides of each rib after removing any membrane or fat that still remains on each one. Brush liberally. This will also give them more flavor as well as prevent them from sticking to your grill when you’re done boiling them.

Step 6: Now, all you have to do is cook them on the grill for about 2 to 5 minutes per side. Brush more sauce on them if they need it, and you’re all done.

Why You Should Boil the Ribs Before Grilling

Boiling ribs increases your chances of getting rid of the pleura (the membrane on the back), which makes it easier to eat.

Also, boiling ribs gives you more control over how tender they are. It’s much easier to remove tough pieces from a boiled rack than it is when they are grilled.

So there you have it! Now you know how to boil ribs, as well as tips on why boiling ribs before grilling them will help make your meal that much better.

Boil ribs before grilling - the right way
Source: Aaron (Flickr.com)

What Temperature to Boil the Ribs

The perfect temperature to boil ribs is 200 degrees Fahrenheit (or as close as you can get). If you’re using a manual stove, you can use a good grilling thermometer to measure the temperature precisely.

Depending on how hot your stove element is, you may need a little more or less. But this should give you an accurate estimate of how long it will take.

Just make sure not to let it boil so much that your meat falls off the bone.

What Type of Ribs are Best to Boil

The first thing you need to do is choose what kind of ribs you want to boil.

Baby backs are smaller and contain less fat than spare ribs, which typically have a meatier flavor. But they also tend to be more expensive!

More importantly, you’ll need to decide if you want them bone-in or boneless before boiling them.

How Long to Boil Ribs Before Grilling

Boiling baby back ribs takes about 20 minutes with the water at a roiling boil (or as close as you can get).

For spare ribs, it’s about 30 minutes at the same temperature. Just make sure not to include any seasoning on either one until after they’re finished cooking. This will give your sauce more flavor.

Can You Steam the Ribs Instead of Boiling Them

Steam will definitely give you more flavor than boiling them, but it doesn’t remove the membrane on your ribs as boiling does.

However, if you decide to boil your ribs, try not to get rid of all the fat.

Cooking with low-fat meat can reduce some of that flavor, so be careful when boiling them and let the fat sit on top while you’re cooking.

If you want more flavor after they’re finished, boil them in a separate pot with seasonings before brushing them with sauce and grilling.

How Long Do Boiled Ribs Last

Unlike steamed ribs, which need to be eaten within four hours or thrown away, boiled ribs can be kept overnight if appropriately refrigerated.

Just make sure to let them cool before placing them in the refrigerator and keeping them there for no more than two days.

If you’d like your ribs to last longer, simply steam instead of boiling.

Steam-cooked food keeps better than boiled food. It doesn’t denature proteins as much, so if you want your ribs to be safe for up to three or four days, cook them with a steamer.


Boiling ribs before grilling can help you eliminate the membrane on your ribs, making them easier to eat and more flavorful.

It will also prevent them from sticking to your grill or falling apart!

Remember, the perfect temperature for boiling ribs is 200 degrees Fahrenheit (or as close as you can get).

Make sure not to steam them instead of boiling them if you want them to last longer in the fridge.

And do remember to let your boiled ribs cool before refrigerating them.