If you’ve been a fan of my original 2011 Ribs Recipe, I’ve got an update for you. It’s one you can do with a gas grill, and one that’s a little less fiddly with the foil pack.

You’ll need -

  • 1 slab of baby back ribs - cut in half to make two half-slabs
  • Gas grill update: A small grill monitoring thermometer like this one
  • Gas grill update: A 9x13 disposable foil pan like this one
  • Aluminum foil
  • 16 oz of honey
  • 64 oz of apple juice
  • 16 oz BBQ sauce like our favorite

And finally, you’ve got to make some rub. Here’s that recipe:

Best Ribs in the Universe Rub

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup non-iodized table salt
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar, dried
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Accent (MSG)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Beforehand: Dust and Sit

Apply a good dusting to both sides, and let the ribs sit for an hour or two – you’ll see the rub drawing the juices out and the whole thing will glisten; that’s a good sign that you’re ready to continue.

Gas Grill Update: Remember, cut the slab in half so you have two half slabs. You’ll need to do this to fit the slabs in the foil pan.

Hour Zero: Rack on the Rack

Get your grill up to 225 F on the indirect heat side and keep it there.

Gas grill update: This is what the thermometer is for. Do not trust your grill’s own thermometer. Lay your thermometer on one side of the grill near the edge, and light the burners on the opposite side. The thermometer is on the “indirect heat” side. Tune your burner on the opposite side so that the indirect side registers 225F.

Put the ribs on the non-burner side (no foil or anything yet) and set a timer for three hours. Close the lid. All cooking steps should be done with the lid closed. Watch out, you may need to adjust the burner a bit once the ribs are on.

You’re going to close the lid, wait a bit, open it up briefly to check the indirect temp, adjust the burner up or down, repeat. That’s how you get to 225F and stay there. After a time you’ll recognize what burner setting is right for your grill, and you’ll just set it to that. Staying at 225F and not going above is critical - this is the step that draws out the natural fat and collagen without overcooking.

This photo shows the elements at play:

Diagram of grill with direct and indirect heat labeled

Hour Three: Foil Packing

Gas grill update: Rather than packing the whole thing in aluminum foil we’re going to use the foil pan to make a bath of apple juice the ribs will sit in. It’s easiest to put the pan on the grill first on the direct heat side, then fill it.

Fill the pan about halfway with apple juice. Then put the ribs in the foil pan, laying them over one another a bit so they fit in the pan. Then, drizzle honey on the ribs, just a once-over zig-zag pattern will do fine.

Wrap aluminum foil tightly over the top of the foil pan, crimp down on all sides. Careful! It’s going to be hot already.

Leave the whole thing on the direct heat side for about 15 minutes to let it get up to temp, then using either tongs or pot holders, move the whole foil pan over to the indirect side.

Tune the burners on the direct heat side to keep the indirect heat at 225F, close the lid, and set a timer for two more hours. It’s not as critical to hit 225F directly at this point but do the best you can.

Hour Five: Saucing

Gas Grill Update: You’re down to the last hour. Using tongs or pot holders move the foil pan over to the direct side for a moment. Pull the foil off the top of the pan and using tongs transfer the ribs back to the indirect side. Discard the foil pan completely.

Tune the burners on the direct heat side to increase the heat on the indirect side to 275F. You may need a second burner running, but try to keep direct heat away from the ribs.

Baste the ribs with the barbecue sauce of your choice (Gas Grill Update: Rufus Teague Honey Sweet is our new fave!), close the lid and leave on the grill for one more hour. It’s almost time.

Hour Six: Cooking Done

Once the last hour is up, open the grill, kill the burners, take the ribs off the grill and let sit for twenty minutes before slicing. The meat should be fall-off-the-bone tender, and you’ll find the rub mixes in nicely with the barbecue sauce and the smoke for a flavor that can’t be beat.


Thanks to Virtual Weber Bullet for the BRITU rub recipe and original smoker instructions.