Should You Boil Ribs Before Grilling? (Yes and No!)

If you are a meat lover, chances are you love ribs, too. The problem is – are you supposed to boil them before you grill them or not?

Enough of us have experiences ribs that are almost inedible because they are so tough or chewy, and we have all sunk our teeth into one or two ribs that probably were not even cooked.

Should You Boil Ribs Before Grilling

We have all faced the difficulties, but many of us still aren’t sure of the best option. Should we boil our ribs before throwing them to the flames, or do we not?

To know this for sure and make the best decision, you need to know how to properly prepare your ribs and which ribs to choose for grilling in the first place. Then, and only then, can you make the decision of whether to boil your ribs or not.

Which Ribs Are The Best For Grilling?

If you want to grill your ribs, you need to know which ones will be the best. No one wants to choose ribs that are poorly suited to the situation and cooking method.

To decide on the best ribs to use for your next grilled meal, you need to be aware of the nuances of each rib.

The easiest and quickest ribs to cook are the baby back pork ribs. These are a great option to grill or even spoke since they have delicious, high quality meat on the bones. This type of rib is more expensive, though, but totally worth it.

A common choice for grill-lovers are the spareribs and the St Louis style ribs. Although both of these ribs do not have very much meat on their bones, they are full of flavor because of all the fat.

These ribs are also easier to brown nicely because they are flatter than baby back ribs. When these ribs are cooked properly, they are a great choice.

Lastly, don’t forget about beef and lamb ribs, too. These kinds of ribs are not as popular as pork ribs, although they can be packed full of flavor, too.

There is little meat left of beef ribs as the majority of the area is used for other cuts of meat like rib-eye, so for the price you pay for the ribs, you may not feel like you are spending your cash wisely.

When it comes to lamb ribs, many prefer the flavor over beef, as well as the fact that they are usually much lighter and not so fatty.

In the end, however, it all comes down to personal preference and which flavors you love the most. There are plenty of people who will hate beef ribs but love lamb or pork, so it is always best to try them out instead of feeling like you have to stick with one just because it is popular.

For the sake of this article, we will be referencing pork ribs when we are talking about ribs. This is because they are the most popular choice and the most widespread.

Arguments For Boiling Your Ribs Before Grilling

The main reason for a lot of people boiling their ribs is to tenderize them. It has been argued that by boiling your ribs before throwing them on the grill, they will be much more tender and easy to get your teeth into.

Not only that, but by boiling your ribs, you can render the fat from the ribs. Unfortunately, however, doing this can also result in the ribs being dry after being barbecued.

This is common when people are not sure how long they should grill their ribs for so that they are perfect. Not only this, but boiling your ribs will also make it easier to remove the ribs’ inner membrane, which might also make the meat though.

The last good reason to boil your ribs in simple = it saves time. Not everyone has the luxury of standing out in the sun all day while they tend to their BBQ.

If you have to grill something quicker because of the weather or cater for a bigger event, you want your ribs to be on and off in no time. By pre-cooking the ribs via boiling them, your grilling time is cut in half.

Arguments Against Boiling Your Ribs Before Grilling

There are those who will say that if you are planning on having ribs, you need to be able to set aside some time to cook them properly.

You need to have a certain level of expertise, patience and time in order to cook your ribs on the grill, so it is not always the easiest option, especially for beginners.

According to the grilling connoisseurs, boiling your ribs is a cheat and is the easy way out. Not only this, but boiling your ribs can make them more bland, according to the experts.

A lot of flavor is boiled out of the meat, so unless you are planning on doing something with that boiling water, it is a waste no matter how you look at it.

Another big reason for people being against boiling ribs before grilling is to do with the smokiness. If you boil the ribs first, they will not be able to absorb any of the smoky flavor that usually comes with grilling.

If you are not a fan of that smoky flavor in the first place, there is no real loss on this part, but many people who grill their ribs do so with the hope of getting some of that delicious smokey BBQ flavor.

Boiling your ribs before grilling

The last main reason so many are against boiling your ribs before grilling in because they could be overcooked. Since you are grilling half-cooked meat already, there is a greater chance of overcooking them.

Overcooking your ribs mean that they will most likely become either mushy or rubbery – both of which is exactly what you do not want in a rib.

Recap For The Arguments Of Boiling And Not Boiling Ribs

For Boiling Ribs

  • Tenderizes the rib
  • Reduces the amount of fat on the rib
  • Makes it easier to remove the inner membrane
  • Saves a lot of time

Against Boiling Ribs

  • It is a cheating method
  • You won’t get the smoky flavor
  • Gets rid of a lot of the flavor
  • It is easy to overcook the ribs

Since the arguments for and against boiling ribs is fairly balanced, something to address would be the issue of tenderizing your ribs.

If the reason a lot of people choose to boil their ribs is to tenderize them, wouldn’t you like to know if there are other ways of tenderizing your ribs?

You don’t need to boil your ribs if tenderness is the only reason you are doing it. Instead, there are a number of other things you could do to make sure that your ribs are tender and delicious every time.

Ways To Tenderize Your Ribs Before Grilling

There are five main ways to tenderize your ribs before grilling them, and yes, one of the methods is boiling them. Besides boiling your ribs, you could also use a tenderizing marinade, brine solution, steam them or smoke them.

As each of these methods work well, we will go through each of them (including boiling) down below, so you can get the best results no matter the method you choose.

Tenderizing Marinade

Marinades are among the best ways of tenderizing meat while also adding loads of flavor. Any marinade that contains vinegar will be very good at tenderizing, making it a great option for this list.

It does not matter if your marinade using apple cider or white vinegar – they will both do the same job in the end. If you wanted to make your own marinade at home, a few key ingredients include some kind of vinegar and seasoning.

Other great ingredients that should be added to make a fantastic marinade is honey, garlic powder, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, onion, spices and either orange or lemon juice.

To get the best results with a marinade, you should soak your ribs in the mixture for up to 24 hours. The ribs should be kept in the refrigerator at a good temperature, so they do not go off.

Not only does marinade tenderize your meat, but soaking in it for an extended period of time also means that some amazing flavors will sink into the meat, making it even more delicious.

Brine Solution

One of the most common suggestions for tenderizing meat is brining. This will make your ribs tender and super moist. To do this, you need to make a salt water solution and let your ribs soak in it.

The solution itself should have around one cup of salt to every gallon of water you use. You can boil the salt into the solution or let it dissolve into the water before you add your ribs.

Your ribs should be kept in the refrigerator overnight so that the brine solution can do its thing, and you will have some deliciously tender ribs to work with. If you are up to it, you can also add a few things like chilies, mustard powder or peppercorn to the solution to add even more flavor.

Steaming Your Ribs

Steaming is a great method for tenderizing your ribs, too. To do this, all you need is a pan, water, some vinegar and aluminum foil.

This method will make your robs super flavorsome and moist while also making them soft, so it is a win-win situation.

If you do not have apple cider vinegar, you can even use beer for this method, which will really punch up the flavor. You get the best results when you remove the membrane from the ribs, but this is optional.

Once you have put your apple cider vinegar or beer onto a roasting pan with some water, put the ribs in and cover the whole thing with the foil.

Place the tasting pan into an oven that is pre-heated to 350 °F and let the ribs steam for an hour or so. When the hour has passed, you can remove the ribs from the oven and stick them onto the grill for 30 minutes.

To make sure the ribs are grilled evenly, make sure to turn them over every very minutes so that you get the rest results.

Boiling Your Ribs

Even though half the readers will be against this method, it still has to be added. There are steps you can take so that you do not ruin your ribs when you boil them, so listen closely. You can boil your ribs by using a casserole dish, pot of water or in barbecue sauce.

If you are using a casserole dish, make sure to cover the meat with water and boil for around 30 minutes, or until the meat is slightly soft.

If it is falling off the bone, you have gone too far, but if it isn’t, take the ribs out of the dish, pat them dry and get them on the grill.

Using a t-pot on the stove top is a great and easy method for boiling your ribs. Get a pot of water, put the ribs in it, and bring it to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down, so it is simmering.

Smoke the ribs

You can leave it to simmer for up to an hour and a half, but this depends on how big the ribs are. Make sure not to boil at a high temperature for an extended period of time, or your ribs will turn out tough.

If you want, you can add onions or peppercorns for some added flavor. When the time is up, remove the ribs, pat them dry and send them to the grill for their final destination.

Lastly, you can boil your ribs in a barbecue sauce. Doing this will add some amazing flavors to your ribs, so it is always worth a try.

You should let your ribs simmer in the sauce for up to forty minutes before getting it to the grill. When grilling, you’ll have to watch them for up to another 40 minutes to make sure they are perfect.

Smoke The Ribs

Doing this will take the place of grilling, so if you are adamant on grilling your ribs, you might want to stick to the above methods.

Smoking your ribs in a known way of getting ribs that are the most tender and delicious, just about every time. By cooking the robs on a low heat for a long time, they will become so tender they might just fall off the bone. This method does require patience, though, since it can take anywhere between six and eight hours.

If you are not willing to wait half the day to sink your teeth into some ribs, no one blames you.

Smokers are for those who have mastered the art of patience or can think far ahead. It isn’t a suitable option for everyone, so if you want to stick to grilling, you do that.


There are ways to work around boiling your ribs before grilling them, but it is always an option. If you have had a bad experience when you boiled your ribs, try out another method.

If any of the methods mentioned above are done properly, you will get some delicious and tender ribs to eat, whether they are beef, lamb or pork.

So, next time you want ribs but are scared about how to approach them, pick one of the methods and try it.

If you have a smoker and the patience, I would definitely recommend using the smoking method instead of grilling altogether.