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How to cook ribs on a charcoal grill
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3.5 from 12 votes

Slow cooked ribs on a charcoal grill

Your charcoal grill isn’t just for burgers, hot dogs, and steaks. With a little ingenuity you can set your grill up to cook ribs low and slow. These will end up juicy and fall off-the-bone tender. Basically, the method turns your charcoal grill into a smoker.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbecue Ribs, Beef Ribs, Smoke Ribs
Servings: 4
Calories: 300kcal


  • Charcoal grill
  • Charcoal chimney
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Tongs
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife


  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 rack baby back ribs (approximately 12 ribs)
  • 1-1.1/2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup barbeque sauce


  • In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne. Set this aside.
  • Coat the ribs all over with the mustard. Pat the dry rub all over the mustard to coat the ribs. Set aside while you prepare your grill.
  • Remove the top grate of the grill. Place a loose wad of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney. Fill the chimney half way with briquettes. Light the paper and wait until the charcoal is red hot. 
  • Pour the charcoal into a pile on one side of the grill base. Put the wood chunks on top of the hot coals.
  • Place the grate on the grill. Allow it to heat up. Then, scrape it clean and oil the side that is not over the coals using a soaked paper towel held in tongs. 
  • Place the foil pan on the grate over the hot coals. Fill it half way with water.
  • Place the seasoned rack of ribs, meaty side up, on the cool side of the grill (approximately 230°F). 
  • Close the lid of the grill with the open vent placed over the ribs. Cook for 2 hours for baby backs and 3 hours for spare ribs. 
  • 15 minutes before the ribs have finished their first cook light another half full chimney of coals on a hard surface, such as your driveway or gravel.
  • After 2 to 3 hours, remove the ribs and place them on a double layer of foil. 
  • Pour the apple cider over the ribs. Wrap the foil tightly to enclose the ribs. 
  • Add more hot coals if the fire has died down too much. Place the wrapped ribs on the grill and close the lid. Cook for an additional 2 hours.
  • Unwrap the ribs and discard the foil. Place the ribs flesh side down and coat the bottom of the ribs with 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce. Cover the grill and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Flip the ribs over and coat the top side with 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce.
  • Cover and continue cooking for an additional 45 minutes until the meat is pulling away from the bones.
  • Remove the ribs to a clean cutting board and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. 
  • Serve with your favorite sides, such as baked beans and coleslaw.


Calories: 300kcal