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Best Way to Make St. Louis Style Ribs (2 Ways)

Best Way to Make St. Louis Style Ribs (2 Ways)

5.0 from 2 votes

Finding the best way to make St. Louis Style Ribs becomes an exciting culinary experiment when using two preparation methods for comparison: brine vs. dry rub. For one rack, a deep flavor infusion is achieved through submerging the ribs in a seasoned brine, enhancing moisture and tenderness. The other rack skips the brine in lieu of a simpler approach, featuring a robust dry rub that promises a bold, crusty exterior. Both are slowly grilled to perfection, allowing the unique flavors to develop fully, offering a delicious study in contrast between juiciness and a spice-packed crust.

Best Way to Make St. Louis Style Ribs on Gas Grill – Indirect Heat

Grilling St. Louis style ribs using indirect heat is essential for achieving that fall-off-the-bone tenderness without burning the meat. To set up your grill for indirect heating, ignite only one side of your grill, whether it’s charcoal or gas, and place the ribs on the opposite side, away from the direct heat. This method allows the ribs to cook slowly, enveloped by the grill’s ambient heat, which will prevent the sugars in the sauces and rubs from burning.

Dry Rub vs. Brining Flavor Profiles

  • Brined Ribs: Often have a subtle, nuanced flavor profile with hints of whatever spices are included in the brine. The overall taste can be milder but with a deeper savory flavor and a more consistent juiciness.
  • Dry Rubbed Ribs: Highlight a bold, vibrant flavor that sits prominently on the surface of the meat. The spices and seasonings in the rub provide a deeply complex taste with each bite, which is often enhanced by the smoky char from a grill.

How does Brining Affect Texture?

Brining improves the texture of the ribs by hydrating the cells of the meat through a scientific process called osmosis. This generally leads to juicier results post-cooking. The salt in the brine breaks down some of the proteins, allowing the meat to retain more moisture during the high-heat grilling process.

Differences in Crust Formation and Flavor Penetration

Crust Formation:

  • Dry Rubbed Ribs: Develop a rich, flavorful crust, known as bark. The sugars and spices in the rub caramelize under high heat, creating a robust outer layer.
  • Brined Ribs: Typically have a softer outer texture since the meat absorbs moisture

Flavor Penetration:

  • Brined Ribs: The brine solution, being liquid, allows for deeper penetration into the meat, infusing it with flavors and moisture throughout.
  • Dry Rubbed Ribs: The flavors from the rub are more surface-based, but with extended marinating times, the spices and salts can also permeate deeper.

How to Prevent Grilling Flareups

Flareups are sudden bursts of flame caused by fat dripping onto the heat source. They can char the ribs if not controlled. Here are some tips on how to stop these flareups from occurring:

  • Trim Excess Fat: Before grilling, trim any excess fat from the ribs to reduce drippings.
  • Adjust the Ribs: Move the ribs around on the grill to cooler spots if flare-ups occur.
  • Carefully Watch Grill: Flareups can and will occur occasionally. Keeping an eye on the grill for excessive smoke can help you detect flareups early on (before they char/burn the meat).

Best Sides for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs

So you’ve found the best way to make St. Louis Style Ribs – but now you’re probably wondering what sides you should make to accompany this delicious meal. R&R has both that answer and recipe for you:

Caramelized Honey-Glazed Grilled Pineapple

Homemade Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese

Brine or Dry Rub for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs?

In addition to this St. Louis style ribs recipe, we also used this as an experiment to test whether we preferred a brine or dry rub prior to cooking. While both turned out incredibly delicious, there were stark differences in the end result.

  • Brined Ribs: Much more tender meat than the dry rub, but lacked the crispy bark that is often desired and expected from grilled ribs. St. Louis style ribs tend to have a higher fat concentration compared to other types of ribs (which means they retain moisture/flavor better). Thus, it might not be necessary to use a brine for this style of ribs
  • Dry Rub: Crisp, flavor-packed outer bark. Tender, juicy meat. Addictively delicious.
    • R&R deemed this method to be the best way to make St. Louis style ribs

Best Way to Make St. Louis Style Ribs (Prepared 2 Ways)

Main Ingredients

  • 6 pounds St. Louis Style Ribs
  • 4 whole lemons; halved and juiced
  • 8 ounces of your favorite BBQ sauce

Brine Ingredients for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs

  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika, smoked
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cayenne pepper
  • Course salt and cracked peppercorn, to taste

Dry Rub Ingredients for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs

  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite grilling seasoning/rub
  • 2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika, smoked
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cayenne powder
  • Course salt and cracked peppercorn, to taste

Mop Sauce Ingredients for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs

  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite grilling seasoning/rub
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar

Directions for the Best Way to Make St. Louis Style Ribs

Main Directions

  1. Remove rib racks from refrigerator, allowing to come closer to room temperature while preparing brine or dry rub (directions for both methods can be found below)
  2. Preheat grill to medium/medium-high heat using only half of the burners (350 to 375 degrees); depending on grill size, only ignite burners on one side of grill
  3. Once grill is at temperature, add ribs (bone-side down) to side of grill away from ignited burners (indirect heat); allow to cook for 60 minutes
  4. While ribs are cooking, prepare mop sauce by combining ingredients in a large bowl; stir to mix
  5. Once ribs have cooked for 60 minutes, carefully remove from grill and place over large piece of aluminum foil
  6. Use brush to wipe/baste mop sauce on ribs; squeeze juice from two or three halves of a lemon over rack and seal ribs tightly in foil (you can add the lemon halves to the foil for extra flavor)
Aluminum foil for ribs
  1. Turn grill to medium-high heat (400 degrees); return wrapped ribs to grill and cook for 60 minutes; every 15 minutes, brush mop sauce onto top of ribs; add favorite BBQ sauce to bowl towards to the of the cooking time
  2. After cooking wrapped 60 minutes, remove ribs from grill; unwrap and discard aluminum foil
  3. Return ribs to area of grill where burners are off (indirect heat); brush BBQ sauce onto ribs and allow to cook for 30 to 45 minutes; brush new coat of BBQ sauce on rib rack every 5 to 10 minutes
Best Way to Make St. Louis Style Ribs
How to make St. Louis Ribs on Gas Grill
How to make St. Louis Ribs on Gas Grill
  1. Once ribs are thoroughly cooked, remove from grill; allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving
Grilled St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs
We highly recommend this Pyrex glassware set

St. Louis Style Ribs (Brine Method)

  1. In a large bowl, combine ingredients for brine and mix well
Brine for ribs
  1. Transfer rack of ribs to large Pyrex dish (or another large baking dish) and add brine; cover and return to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes

St. Louis Style Ribs (Dry Rub Method)

  1. In a large bowl, combine ingredients for dry rub and mix well
Dry rub for ribs
  1. Generously coat both sides of ribs with dry rub mixture, pressing and massaging rack to force adherence

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Grilled St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs (Prepared 2 Ways)

Recipe by Reviews and Recipes
5.0 from 2 votes
Course: Lunch, Dinner, MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

3

hours 
Total time

3

hours 

30

minutes

Grilling St. Louis Style Ribs becomes an exciting culinary experiment when using two distinct preparation methods for comparison. For one rack, a deep flavor infusion is achieved through submerging the ribs in a seasoned brine, enhancing moisture and tenderness. The other rack skips the brine in favor of a simpler approach, featuring a robust dry rub that promises a bold, crusty exterior. Both are slowly grilled to perfection, allowing the unique flavors to develop fully, offering a delicious study in contrast between juiciness and a spice-packed crust.

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Main Ingredients

  • 6 lbs St. Louis Style Ribs

  • 4 whole lemons; halved and juiced

  • 8 oz favorite BBQ sauce

  • Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs (Brine)
  • 1.5 c apple cider vinegar

  • 3 c water

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tsp paprika, smoked

  • 2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • Course salt and cracked peppercorn, to taste

  • Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs (Dry Rub)
  • 4 tbsp favorite grilling seasoning/rub

  • 2 tsp onion powder

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp paprika, smoked

  • 2 tsp ground cayenne powder

  • Course salt and cracked peppercorn, to taste

  • Mop Sauce for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs
  • 1 c white vinegar

  • 2 c water

  • 2 tbsp favorite grilling seasoning/rub

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tsp brown sugar

Main Directions

  • Remove rib racks from refrigerator, allowing to come closer to room temperature while preparing brine or dry rub (directions for both methods can be found below)
  • Preheat grill to medium/medium-high heat using only half of the burners (350 to 375 degrees); depending on grill size, only ignite burners on one side of grill
  • Once grill is at temperature, add ribs (bone-side down) to side of grill away from ignited burners (indirect heat); allow to cook for 60 minutes
  • While ribs are cooking, prepare mop sauce by combining ingredients in a large bowl; stir to mix
  • Once ribs have cooked for 60 minutes, carefully remove from grill and place over large piece of aluminum foil
  • Use brush to wipe/baste mop sauce on ribs; squeeze juice from two or three halves of a lemon over rack and seal ribs tightly in foil (you can add the lemon halves to the foil for extra flavor)Aluminum foil for ribs
  • Turn grill to medium-high heat (400 degrees); return wrapped ribs to grill and cook for 60 minutes; every 15 minutes, brush mop sauce onto top of ribs; add favorite BBQ sauce to bowl towards to the of the cooking time
  • After cooking wrapped 60 minutes, remove ribs from grill; unwrap and discard aluminum foil
  • Return ribs to area of grill where burners are off (indirect heat); brush BBQ sauce onto ribs and allow to cook for 30 to 45 minutes; brush new coat of BBQ sauce on rib rack every 5 to 10 minutesHow to make St. Louis Ribs on Gas GrillHow to make St. Louis Ribs on Gas GrillHow to make St. Louis Ribs on Gas Grill
  • Once ribs are thoroughly cooked, remove from grill; allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before servingGrilled St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs
  • St. Louis Style Ribs (Brine Method)
  • In a large bowl, combine ingredients for brine and mix wellHow do I make a brine for ribs
  • Transfer rack of ribs to large Pyrex dish (or another large baking dish) and add brine; cover and return to refrigerator for at least 30 minutesBrine for ribs
  • St. Louis Style Ribs (Dry Rub Method)
  • In a large bowl, combine ingredients for dry rub and mix wellDry rub mix for ribs
  • Generously coat both sides of ribs with dry rub mixture, pressing and massaging rack to force adherenceDry rub on rack