Fall Off The Bone St Louis Style Ribs

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

Fall off the Bone St Louis style ribs can be daunting if you’ve never done it before but if you follow the steps, you will deliver, every time, the most tender, mouth-watering ribs that you and your family and friends have ever tasted.

Now, I will preface this with this disclaimer: there are several ways of making delicious ribs. You can smoke them, you can do them in the oven, you can cook ’em low and slow, you can use various rubs that will all deliver various flavors and level of tenderness. This is our favorite. The ribs are so tender you can shake the rib and the meat will come off the bone. The rub is slightly sweet with a bit of heat at the end. There is the slightest of ‘pull’ when you bite into it. This is how we like our ribs. So, if you enjoy a different flavor profile, feel free to use this as a ‘primer’ to come up with your own perfect rack of ribs.

The first thing you want to do is remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Just get a corner and rip it right off. This will allow your rub to penetrate the rib and also get some more smoke in there. This is really a personal preference, but I have found that it’s better to remove it. If you have trouble, just grab a spoon to get under it initially, then use a paper towel to hold on to it.

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

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Once you have the membrane off, you want to apply your rub. Holy smokes, there are tons of rubs out there. You can make your own, buy a rub … any number of options are available to you. I have provided my ‘secret’ rub here, feel free to use it, you won’t be sorry. This rub works well for St Louis Style ribs, baby back ribs, pork shoulders … pretty much anything. Keep it handy.

Apply the rub liberally to both sides of the ribs, wrap with plastic, and allow to rest for at least 2 hours to 24 hours (refrigerate if needed, but try to have your ribs at room temperature when putting onto grill). Most rubs contain a good amount of salt. This dry rub will begin to work on the meat, drawing out the moisture, then reabsorbing into the meat, taking that delicious rub into the meat. The longer you can let your ribs rest, the more flavor you can get into your meat. I usually do mine overnight.

When you’re ready to get this party started, it’s time to get your grill/smoker ready. I cook my ribs for approximately 5 hours, 225 to 250 degrees. Two to two and one-half hours to smoke, 1 and a half to 2 hours wrapped, then about 30 minutes over some heat to crisp them up. With pulling them on and off, doing this and that, it takes about 5 hours. So plan accordingly.

I use charcoal for my heat and I use hickory or pecan for my smoke. I get my grill to temperature and when it’s ready I get the ribs out and remove the plastic wrap. There will be moisture from the dry rub doing its thing with the ribs. If you have some gloves, you might want to wear them. No worries, though .. it washes off. Apply another generous amount of rub on both sides. Then place the ribs in your smoker/grill.

A note on smoke: I have used a couple of different methods regarding my smoke chips. I have soaked the chips then applied them to the charcoal directly. I have also added dry chips to a bowl made of heavy duty aluminum foil and placed them on the coals. Both work great, but the dry method will burn pretty quick and you will need to watch your grill to make sure that smoke is always coming out.

Maintaining a temperature of 225-250 degrees, smoke your St Louis Style ribs for about 2 hours using indirect heat (not over the heat source).

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

Looks good, doesn’t it? Well, this is just stage one. Pull your ribs off the grill/smoker. Tear off two large sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place on the counter. Put your ribs onto the tin foil. Apply honey and three to four tabs of butter to one side of the rib, flip the ribs and apply some more honey and butter. Seal up the ribs nice and tight as they’re going back on the grill.

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

Note: However you wrap these ribs up, you want the meat side down when you return them to the grill so make sure when you wrap them up your seal is on top, the meat side down on the grill.

Put the ribs back on the grill for about another hour and a half. Maintain your temperature at 225-250 degrees. This will tenderize your ribs big time as well as stop the smoking process.

Take them off the grill and remove the foil. There will be a fair amount of juice, so be ready for that.

Return to the grill and place over heat. We want to get some char on these ribs. It might be needed for you to apply another amount of charcoal. At this step, I usually add some more charcoal as I love some char to my ribs. I usually give them about 5 minutes on each side depending on the heat. I then apply a generous amount of BBQ sauce to each side of the ribs and cook them for about 10 minutes further each side, letting the heat caramelize the sauce onto the ribs. With the sauce and that honey in there, you should get some nice sticky ribs.

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

Pull them off and let them rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

Cut the ribs into individual portions and serve with your favorite sides. You WILL BE hero of the day, I swear it!

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

We always seem to go with a potato salad and deviled eggs with our ribs.

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

You can watch the video for the full process. The best part is the cutting where you can plainly see how tender these ribs are. Even with a sharp knife, the meat wants to come off the bone at the slightest pressure of the blade. My wife even said that they “might be too tender.” What???

So, give it a whirl. If you do it, let us know how it went, we would love to hear about it. After this, St Louis Style ribs will be your go-to hero off the grill!

This video is one of my first, so please don’t judge too harshly. I will get better.

5 from 4 votes
St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!
Fall Off The Bone St Louis Style Ribs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 hrs
Total Time
5 hrs 15 mins
 
St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!
Course: BBQ, Grilling
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 Servings
Author: Don't Sweat The Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 Rack St Louis Style ribs
  • 6-8 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Honey
  • 8 Oz BBQ Sauce
Rub Ingredients
  • C White Sugar
  • C Dark Brown Sugar
  • ½ C Smoked Paprika
  • ¼ C Garlic Powder
  • C Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
Instructions
  1. Remove membrane from back of ribs
  2. Apply a liberal amount of rub to ribs
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap, let rest for 2 to 24 hours
  4. After rest, remove plastic wrap and add more rub liberally
  5. Start grill
  6. Get grill/smoker to stable temperature (225 to 250 degrees)
  7. Add smoking wood chips.
  8. Put ribs on, meat side up
  9. Cook for 2 to 2 and one-half hours
  10. Remove ribs from grill
  11. Lay ribs onto heavy-duty tin foil, add honey and butter equally to each side.

  12. Seal ribs in tin foil, place back on the grill for 1 to 1 and one-half hour.
  13. Remove ribs from grill, remove ribs from tin foil
  14. Add more heat to grill, if needed
  15. Place ribs back on the grill over heat for app 5 minutes each side
  16. Cover in BBQ sauce
  17. Cook each side for app 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to caramelize.
  18. Remove from grill, set aside for 5 to 10 minutes
  19. Cut into individual portions.

 

St Louis Style Ribs - Perfect every time. You will not fail with this technique. Become the grill master at your home!

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Comments

  1. Reply

    When you wrap them in plastic do you put them in the fridge for over night ?

    1. Reply

      Hey John, refrigerate your ribs if you need to, but try to have them at room temperature when you’re putting them on the grill. So, if you’re only doing a couple of hours with the rub, no big deal if you leave them out. If you do it overnight toss them in a fridge and pull them out a couple of hours before you’re ready to start smoking. Thanks for pointing that out, I edited the post to make that more clear.

  2. Reply

    What kind of bbq sauce would you recommend? With all the choices out there I feel like that could make or break how they turn out. Also, do you ever leave them with using any bbq sauce and just crisp up the dry rub?

    1. Reply

      Hey Matt,

      Wow … that’s a really good question. For us, we’re very very content eating them without sauce. The dry rub that we use packs tons of flavor. My wife would almost think it a crime to put sauce on them. Occasionally, though, I do like the punch of a sauce that I will just dip my rib into as I see fit. But as far as sauces go .. what do you like? I like a spicy sweet sauce and I find that “Sweet Baby Ray’s” Honey Chipotle brings it pretty nicely. We also enjoy whipping up some Alabama White a fair number of times. It pairs REALLY well with smoked meat. You can check that recipe out here -> http://dontsweattherecipe.com/alabama-white-bbq-sauce/ <-- This is highly recommended and it's SO easy to make. White BBQ sauce ... weird, right? Just give it a whirl sometime, it really is good! In the end, it's all about what you like. Sweet, spicy, peppery ... so many to choose from. Off the shelf, I'd go with Sweet Baby Ray's .. plenty of flavors to choose from. But I would whip up that Alabama White at least once to give it a try, though.

  3. Reply

    your rub recipe was excellent! The wife who only likes dry rub said so. i had to cook them for 3 hours at 300 in my oven because of the storm and they fell off the bone and tasted awesome, the butter and honey i think was key to the flavor. The wife said they were better than Chilis, better than hers and this was the first time i ever made st louis ribs. Thank you for being you, and sharing!
    Mike

    1. Reply

      Man, that’s great Mike! We’re so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting us know.

      The storms got us this year too. There’s always the 4th!!

  4. Reply

    The white elephant in the room you never addressed, and I don’t blame you, is how do you turn a regular kettle charcoal grill into a low’n’slow smoker?

    You can’t really. I keep failing and I’m a great griller!
    Regular indirect method, with charcoal, starts way too hot. You have to add at intervals. Try it lump and you’ll never see 250.
    I tried the “snake” method, but after 5 hours I still had to finish them in the oven. I tried the “minion” method and that escalated to high heat.
    I am not alone on the interwebs…many many charcoal grill-convert-to-smoker fail stories like mine. I watch the videos, I take notes, I read the how-to stories, but I can’t sustain 250 for 4-5 hours in a 22.5″ charcoal kettle.
    So I guess my question is, how did you do it?
    If you addressed this in the video then I apologize in advance. There is no video link for me, and that might be my fault for my ad-blocks.

    1. Reply

      Hey Brent,

      Smoking low and slow with a kettle grill does raise the difficulty level compared to other grills/smokers, to be sure. but very do-able. I am not sure how you start your grill, I use a chimney. When I do a chimney for the kettle (for smoking), I don’t do a full chimney, just a bit over half. I will then close all my grates and choke down that fire until it’s in the 250-degree range. Then I will start the smoking. If you’re around 275 that’s ok too .. just get it down as quickly as possible.

      Keep adjusting your vents to keep that temp in range. You will be adjusting a lot, and often. You will need to add more charcoal as well. I do relight a half chimney as needed and add it, choking it back down and readjusting all over again.

      If your temp shoots up for a few minutes, it’s not the end of the world as long as the bulk of the cook remains in that sweet zone of 225-250 degrees.

      But, with a kettle, there is no method I know of firing the fuel and leaving it for the entire cook. Nope, takes a lot of trips outside.

    2. Reply

      Not really that important to stay on the 225-250 range. I smoke hot n fast at 275-310 and my ribs are perfect every time. Lots of competition teams cook this way. The key is looking for the pullback. Once it hits 1/4 inch and the bark is where you want it, pull those bad boys off and wrap in butcher paper instead of foil. Back on the heat and when the meat gets probe tender take em off.

      If you’re looking for a damn good smoker that wont break the bank, check out the pit barrel cooker. Great for those who want to take it up a notch from backyard grilling.

  5. Reply

    These are hands down the best ribs we’ve ever eaten. The instructions are bang on! Thanks so much for sharing we are eating them all the way up in Saskatchewan, Canada!

    1. Reply

      Thank YOU so much, Julie! We certainly do appreciate it. We like them too, and pretty much keep to the same method every time. Experimentation is fun, but sometimes you just want some good ribs! 🙂

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