What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them - 16

What are St. Louis style ribs and How do I Grill Them? Simply put, St. Louis Style ribs are trimmed down spare ribs into a very rectangular, uniform slab of meat. That’s it:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
The St. Louis Style Ribs are almost perfectly rectangular

Technically speaking the rib tips, skirt flap along the bottom and the cartilage laden section along the side that used to connect to the sternum parts are trimmed away. Sometimes a meat cutter will only cut away the part that used to connect to the sternum and call them St. Louis Style ribs. That’s what happened in this case since I had to pick up ribs from a grocer rather than my local butcher, Mateker’s, on a Sunday when Mateker’s is closed. So despite charging me the full price for extra trimming, I had to trim the other two sections off myself. This is why I say to always go to your local butcher. They may be a little higher in price, but the service and knowledge are well worth the extra expense.

First I had to remove the skirt flap along the bottom:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
You can leave this or you can cut it off. Up to you.

Then I had to remove this tapered end or the rib tip:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
This part will get overdone well before the rest of the ribs are done
What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Remove this, but save it for nibblers later

But how do I grill St. Louis style ribs? Well, that’s easy. Go with the high heat method.

St. Louis Style Ribs Ingredients:

2 slabs, St. Louis style ribs
salt
your favorite rub
your favorite BBQ sauce

First, trim off that tapered end and that flap along the bottom if it’s there and peel off the membrane on the back. A paper towel works wonders here to get a good grip. Also if there is an egregious amount of fat anywhere, trim it off as well. What is egregious? That depends on you. Fat tastes good, after all. For me, this glob on the end was egregious:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Too much fat here

Then season with coarse salt and your favorite rub, starting bone side first so the seasoning will be held up off the cutting board or butcher paper and not stick to it when the ribs are flipped over. Then season the meat side the same way:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Rubbed and Ready!

Now let’s prepare the grill for indirect or two zone grilling. What is two zone grilling? It simply means setting up the grill with a cool area for the meat to cook/smoke without getting blasted with heat. For a conventional grill, that means coals on one side and the meat on the other. For a Kamado style grill like the Grill Dome, that means a plate setter is put between the coals and the grill grate to redirect the heat around the meat or St. Louis style ribs in this case. Target temperature inside the grill is 300.

First, gotta light the grill. For this I bust out the HomeRight Products, ElectroLight Fire Starter:

ElecroLight - 9
FIRE IN THE HOLE!

That bad boy got the coals lit in right about 2 minutes. I didn’t leave off the 0. Not 20 minutes. TWO minutes. I only use my chimney anymore if I’m doing a demo somewhere and don’t have power near the grills to plug it in. Otherwise I use this charcoal lighter each and every time. Check out my review of the ElectroLight Fire Starter.

Remember, we’re doing indirect (or two zone) grilling here so the coals go on one side and the St. Louis style ribs will go on the other:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Two Zone Grilling

Pro Tip ~ Leave one of the grill grates off to make it super easy to add fuel and smoke wood.

Next up, put the ribs on and a few chunks of hickory:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
On the heat

Close the lid and let the heat and smoke work their magic.

But wait. The recipe calls for two slabs of ribs. One of the slabs was considerably lighter than this slab, so I put this slab on 30 minutes earlier. At the half hour mark they are browning up nicely:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Lookin’ Good

Time for the second slab:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
There’s that second slab

Don’t forget the nibblers. Nibblers, you wonder? Yeah, all that great rib meat that was cut off to make them St. Louis style ribs needs to be seasoned and thrown on the grill as well to enjoy during the grilling process. Those may in fact be my favorite part of the cookout as it reminds me of childhood when dad would pull off a chunk of meat, slice it into bite size portions and we would sample the nibblers:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
And the nibblers

Add more smoke wood and fuel if necessary but make sure the temps stay around this point:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Pegged at 300

I know what you’re thinking. That’s way too high to grill ribs. I do mine at 225 for four hours. I used to do that to. Then I saw the light. The light of the high heat method. I grill all my ribs at 300 now, sometimes a little higher. The ribs are only going to take smoke on for a couple hours, and after 2-3 hours at 300 they are perfectly cooked. Not fall off the bone cooked, but that’s over done. If Myron Mixon can do his briskets at 350, we can do ribs at 300. Brisket is far less forgiving than ribs.

At the 90 minute mark for the slab on the right, and 60 for the one on the left, the ribs are looking outstanding:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Ready for the Sauce

Don’t believe me on the high heat method? Check out the meat pulling back from the bones on the slab on the left after only an hour:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Meat pulling back from the bone

Now is where some personal preference comes into play. To sauce or not to sauce? Some people prefer only a rub. Some want them slathered in sauce. Some prefer to dunk in sauce. I do two of these methods to satisfy all involved. The ones on the right will get slathered, the ones on the left will stay naked.

But what sauce to use? I’m in St. Louis. I gotta go with some Pappy’s!

Pappy's Smoke House BBQ Sauce
If ever in St. Louis, you have to go to Pappy’s Smokehouse

Flip over the slab and sauce the bone side first:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Saucy

Then flip back over and hit the meat side:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Saucy part II

After another 30 minutes (and every 30 minutes until they’re done), re-sauce the meat side:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Re-Saucy

I generally don’t add more sauce to the bone side after the first application. This is my personal preference. Do what you will. They’re your ribs.

Don’t forget the nibblers to hold you over till the ribs are done:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Mmmmmm Nibblers

After the smaller slab has been on for a little over 90 minutes, the meat has pulled way back from the bone:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Them ribs is done!

Those puppies are done. Don’t go by time on the grill. Go by the flex of the slab when you pick it up and how much the meat has pulled back from the bones. At 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch of pull back, the ribs are ready to serve:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
How good does that look?

Time to carve them up:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Juicy

Don’t forget to serve them with some sauce on the side to dunk in:

Dunking in Pappy's Smokehouse BBQ Sauce
To dunk or not to dunk? That is the question.

Another 30 on for the bigger slab of St. Louis style ribs and another application of Pappy’s before they are ready to come off about two hours and forty five minutes:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Heaven on a Cutting Board

Time to slice:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Pretty as a Picture

And a close up:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
I ate that one within moments of taking this picture

The hickory wood doesn’t give the richest of smoke rings, but it’s definitely there. And here’s the aftermath:

What are St Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them
Obligatory sloppy sauce picture

But how were they? Juicy, tender, not quite fall off the bone, smoky, with a lovely tinge of smoke in every bite. Man, do I love ribs!

In all honesty, despite being from St. Louis and there being a rib of the same name, I prefer the baby back rib. Here are two of my favorite baby back rib recipes. First, blow torch ribs. Yes, I used a blow torch. And the second is one where I baby back ribs smoked the ribs with garlic and onion rather than smoke wood.

5.0 from 2 reviews
What are St. Louis Style Ribs and How do I Grill Them?
Author: 
Recipe type: Ribs
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
An explanation of what makes ribs St. Louis Style as well as how to grill them properly
Ingredients
  • 2 slabs, St. Louis style ribs
  • salt
  • your favorite rub
  • your favorite BBQ sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. Peel the membrane off the bone side of the ribs and coat that side with salt and your favorite rub
  2. Flip over and repeat on the meat side
  3. Prepare the grill for two zone grilling with a target temperature on the inside of the grill of 300
  4. Place the ribs on the side with no heat and smoke wood on the coals
  5. Smoke the ribs for about 90 minutes and then apply sauce to both sides (optional)
  6. Re-sauce every thirty minutes
  7. Once the meat pulls back from the bone for ¼ to ⅓ of an inch they are done (approximately 2.5-3 hours)
  8. Remove from the heat and slice
  9. Serve ribs with no sauce with a bowl of BBQ sauce on the side to dunk in
 

 

 

 

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool

https://t.co/lVWgniik3V - #GrillPorn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
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Scott Thomas

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17 comments

Those look pretty tasty, nice drawback on the bones. I think supermarket “butchers” purposely undertrim so they are maximizing their gross profit. Thats my biggest gripe about them, but that is what they are traied to do by the grocery chain.

Reply

Ive followed your turkey breast, beer can chicken, and fall off the bone rib recipe. Totally awesome! I use a standard weber grill and so far all timing and heat are spot on! Thank you for having this site for all to see. BTW, i found you on the fox2 app. Keep up the good work.

Reply

Jason,

Glad you have had great results. Which recipe was your favorite?

…….Scott

The smoked turkey breast was delicious. 8 lb bird and i only got what was left after the family devoured it. I Look forward to trying the one of your lamb recipes next. I haven’t cooked that before.

Reply

Wow. What a great, straightforward way to cook ribs. Even us folks from NYC are impressed!

Reply

Thanks, Lou.

Having never cooked ribs before, I do not have a “favorite rub”. What is your favorite rub? Dear readers, that includes you!

Reply

Annalee,

Check out Code3Spices. Excellent stuff…

…….Scott

Followed your instructions to the letter ! St. Louis ribs we got were fantastic, probably the best we’ve ever grilled. I did add one thing that I picked up while trying to master the grill- I added a small saucepan of water to the warming rack of our gas grill. As the water evaporates it’s supposed to keep moisture in the ribs. Thank you for this awesome, informative page !

Reply

Christine,

A lot of people use water pans, I just haven’t done it that much. I need to do a side by side to see if there is a difference. I truly don’t know…

…….Scott

Would you bast with apple juice?

Reply

Victor,

Sure you can baste with apple juice…

…….Scott

Did not need a seminar, cooking on a gas grill.

Reply

Just made these with ribs from a happy, healthy pastured pig we bought from our neighbor. OMG. They were the best I’ve ever tasted. Thanks so much. Served them with homemade cole slaw, roasted asparagus, and home brewed beer. Life is good.

Reply

Bert,

That makes me happy and sad. Happy it came out so well. Sad, I didn’t get an invite! Happy grillin’!

…….Scott

Scott,

I just made these and from the nibblers I’ve had so far I’ll be damn they’re GOOD. Thanks for the recipe!

Reply

Glad they came out well, JW!

…….Scott

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