The first thing everybody wants to learn when getting into BBQ is how to smoke the perfect rack of ribs.
That was the case for me. The only issue was I didn’t own a smoker.
If you’re in the same camp, I have good news for you! It is possible to smoke ribs on a gas grill and you can have great results doing it too.
I’m going to show you how to do it using wood chips and a DIY foil pouch.
As you probably know, choosing the right kind of wood is key to having the right flavor on your bbq. If you’ve tried making ribs in the oven, they just don’t compare to the flavor wood can give you.
This recipe is sponsored by Western Premium BBQ Products.
St. Louis Ribs
For this recipe, I used a rack of St. Louis ribs. If you’re not familiar with this cut, it’s just a rack of spare ribs that have been trimmed into a more uniform shape.
Because of this, you get really consistent results, which is why this cut is so popular on the competition barbecue circuit.
You can use baby back or spare ribs for this recipe, but you’ll need to modify the timings slightly as baby backs will cook faster, and a full spare rib may take longer.
Choosing the right wood
Choosing the right kind of wood is key to getting the right flavor for your bbq. And not all wood products are created equal.
Western Premium BBQ Products have been manufacturing their wood chips for more than 25 years. We have found that their product is consistent and the low moisture content in their wood provides excellent smoking for all different types of recipes.
Their wood products are all-natural as well which results in a very low 2% residual ash and adds great flavor and texture to many bbq dishes. In addition, there are 10 different varieties of wood chips to choose from giving you endless options and possibilities!
Wood plays an important role in bbq. Along with rubs or seasonings, the smoke that wood produces adds an additional layer of flavor and is really the star of any good bbq meal.
How wood flavors meat
There are many different types of smoke wood, and each has its own unique flavor when burned.
- For delicate proteins like fish, chicken, and vegetables I like to use milder woods like alder, apple, maple, or cherry.
- For heavier proteins like beef and pork, hickory is a great option, along with pecan.
- If you want a balanced flavor of smokey and mild try post oak. And for a big bold flavor give mesquite a go.
In this recipe, I decided to use hickory wood chips as it adds a stronger flavor to pork ribs without overpowering them.
It has a savory and hearty flavor with almost the richness of bacon. It’s a popular choice for many bbq enthusiasts and a perfect choice when smoking on a gas grill.
How to prepare wood chips for the gas grill
There are a few ways you can use wood chips to smoke on a gas grill. Some methods require a smoker box or tube, but if you don’t have either of those don’t worry.
You can make a foil packet by taking a few handfuls of wood chips and laying them down in the middle of some aluminum foil. I like to use heavy-duty foil to help prevent holes from being poked into it accidentally.
Next, fold one side over and seal the edges once or twice by folding the foil.
After that, take a toothpick and poke several holes in the middle of the pouch so the smoke can escape.
Place the foil packet directly onto the grates on medium-high heat.
In about 15-20 minutes the wood chips in the foil will start smoking and you can get to cooking.
The foil packets will smoke for about 30-40 minutes so I like to have 2-3 foil packets already prepared so that I can easily replace them once the smoke starts to dissipate from the foil, giving a great flavor to the bbq.
Setting up your gas grill for smoking
The key to successfully smoking on a gas grill is to set it up for two-zone cooking. That means the side that the foil packet is on is hot, while the other side where the ribs are is cooler and has the burner turned off.
This is going to ensure that the ribs don’t burn and you can cook them low and slow to allow more smoke to flavor the meat.
We’re not making grilled ribs here!
How to smoke St. Louis Ribs on the Gas Grill
Turn one burner on medium-high heat and place your foil packet with wood chips onto the grill grate and close the lid.
It is going to take about 15-20 minutes for the foil packet to start smoking so in the meantime you can get your ribs ready.
1. Trim your ribs and remove the membrane
To prep, I make sure the ribs are all squared up and any excess fat is trimmed off.
If the rack of ribs is too long and won’t fit the grill, make sure you trim them down to fit. You can also pull the membrane off the back which allows more bbq rub to penetrate giving you a little more flavor.
2. Season your ribs
If your ribs seem dry you can rub a little mustard or oil onto the ribs to help the rub stick better to the meat.
Usually, ribs are wet enough that I don’t have that problem so I usually skip the binder.
I season the backside first, flip and season the top side making sure that every inch of the meat is thoroughly coated.
For these ribs, I used an all-purpose bbq rub from 10-42 BBQ. It has excellent color and goes well with pork ribs. It’s not overly salty so you can apply a lot of the rub and not worry about it being overpowering.
Feel free to use whatever rub you have on hand, or make our ultimate pork ribs rub.
3. Get the ribs on the grill
When smoke starts coming out of the foil packet, turn down the heat to medium and place the ribs on the grill over the grates that have the burner turned off.
If you have a larger gas grill, move them away from the heat source as much as you can, that will allow the ribs to smoke for much longer before they are cooked through.
I smoked these on my Char-Broil two-burner gas grill so the ribs were pretty snug.
The temperature on a gas grill will vary and many of them run pretty hot. You want to shoot for a temp around 250 degrees but even 300 is ok, they will just cook faster.
For best results use a probe-style thermometer as the built-in dome thermometer on your grill isn’t super accurate.
If you notice your ribs drying out, feel free to spritz them with water, apple juice, or a mixture of both to keep them moist.
Don’t forget to add additional packets of foil filled with wood chips once they stop smoking.
4. Wrap the ribs
After about two hours or when the internal temperature of the ribs is around 165-175 degrees, it’s time to wrap them with foil.
A good way to tell if your ribs are ready to wrap is if you can scratch the surface of the rib with your finger without any of the rub coming off.
When you are ready to wrap, take two layers of foil, overlapping half, and add a few pats of butter, a good drizzle of honey, and some brown sugar.
Then place the ribs meat side down and wrap with foil tightly and place them back on the grill the same way.
After about 45 minutes to an hour, open the foil and check on the ribs. If you see the bones pulling back it’s a good sign you can move on to the next step.
5. Final cook
Flip the ribs back up so the meat side is up and just keep them in the foil to finish. I make a little boat with the edges of the foil so the liquid doesn’t spill all over the grill.
Let the ribs go for about 20 minutes before you sauce them. This will allow some of the excess moisture from the top of the ribs to dry off so you don’t have a soggy bark.
At the 20-minute mark go ahead and sauce your ribs with your favorite bbq sauce. I used Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce and brushed on two layers then left them on the grill to finish for another 30-40 minutes.
When the ribs are done, the internal temperature will read around 190-200°F internal. If you prefer fall-off-the-bone ribs you can even take it to 205°F internal.
Let the ribs rest for a few minutes after you pull them off the grill before you slice into them.
All there is left to do is to tuck into some smokey, delicious, and tender ribs straight from your gas grill!
- 1 bag of wood chips I used hickory wood chips from Western Wood.
- gas grill
- heavy-duty aluminum foil If you can't find heavy duty foil then a few layers of regular foil will work.
- 1 rack St louis cut ribs St
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp bbq rub
- Wrap a few handfuls of wood chips in heavy duty aluminum foil and place onto your grill on medium high heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Prep your ribs by trimming, removing the membrane and seasoning your ribs on all sides.
- Once the wood chips start smoking, place your ribs on the indirect side of the grill with the burner turned off.
- While your ribs are smoking prepare two or three additional foil packets so you can swap them out once they stop smoking after about 30-40 minutes.
- After about 2 hours of smoking, when your ribs are at an internal temp of 165-175 degrees they are ready to take off and wrap.
- To wrap in foil, place the ribs meat side down onto pads of butter, along with a drizzle of honey and brown sugar.
- Place the wrapped ribs back onto your grill meat side down for up to an hour, checking at the 45 minute mark.
- When the bones of the ribs have pulled back, flip the ribs meat side up on top of the aluminum foil unwrapped for another 20 minutes.
- Apply one or two layers of bbq sauce sauce and let them cook for an additional 30-40 minutes. The bbq sauce should firm up and be nice and tacky instead of runny.
- Remove the ribs from the grill, let them rest for 10 minutes and slice to serve.