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!
Oh my wow! There is so much per­fec­tion right there! 😲✔️👍😎 . Video shot by the insane­ly tal­ent­ed @carlaocarvalho77 …… https://t.co/uKHWyunSxp — 3 weeks ago
Scott Thomas

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19 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

HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM ON A GAS FIRED GRILL

Reply

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