If you want to serve your guests succulent, melt-in-your-mouth ribs that everyone will rave about, our grilled St Louis Ribs recipe is your go-to solution. The incredibly satisfying BBQ flavor of this juicy rib meat is over-the-top when you use a foil-wrap glazing method and bring your St. Louis style ribs in for a stellar finish.
🍽️ Why This Works
The perfect cut. This style of ribs is specifically cut to create a perfectly rectangular, flat rack of ribs, making them just right for grilling! You’ll get an even exposure to the heat.
Homemade dry rub. Getting the right seasoning on ribs is all about ratios, and this recipe is a well-balanced blend of everything you need for amazing grilled St Louis ribs.
The fastest method. If you are used to grilling your ribs for four hours at a super low temperature, and you just don’t have any more time to waste, this recipe is for you. High-heat grilling is the fastest and best way to grill St. Louis style ribs. At just under two hours, it’s not super fast. And at just 300ºF it’s not super high heat either. It’s a good compromise so you don’t end up with chewy, tough meat. Instead, you end up with perfection.
📝 Ingredient Notes
St-Louis-Style Ribs – When you are purchasing ribs at the store, you can usually find baby back, St. Louis style, or boneless ribs. For this recipe, we used St. Louis-style ribs.
Dry Rub – We used a simple homemade dry rub made up of ingredients you probably already have in the pantry. Brown sugar, paprika, garlic, and onion powder, and some salt and black pepper. Use light or dark brown sugar, whichever you have is good.
Glaze – Don’t skip the glaze. This is a three-ingredient option using butter, brown sugar, and honey. Since it is fairly sweet, it will complement any of the spices you used in the dry rub.
What are St. Louis Style Ribs?
An official cut of pork recognized by the USDA, St. Louis ribs were the practice of numerous meat-packing plants located in or near the city in the mid-20th century. The style of cut became popularized and is now common across the country.
These St Louis cut ribs are spare ribs cut so that the breastbone, cartilage, and rib tips are removed which creates a nice rectangular-shaped rack for ease of grilling and a pretty presentation.
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
Grill | We use a Big Green Egg, but since this is a simple direct heat grilling recipe, any BBQ will work wonderfully.
Smoking Wood | Grilling over charcoal will naturally add a smoky flavor to these ribs. For gas grills and electric grills it’s a good idea to add some smoking wood chips or chunks. For ribs, we love the milder apple wood and cherry wood but you can take things up a notch with a medium oak or use hickory to experience an intense aroma. Check out our Smoking Wood Chart and our guide on the best wood for smoking ribs for more options and pairings!
Foil | Our St. Louis Style ribs are wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil with the glaze ingredients for thirty minutes. It’s the “secret sauce” that brings everything together.
Step One: Make the dry rub by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl or jar and stir or shake to break up all the chunks of the brown sugar. Since it makes so much, store it in a jar for other recipes.
Step Two: Remove the membrane on the ribs if it is still attached. Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel and then coat them with a dry rub. I recommend going a bit heavy on the dry rub.
Step Three: Grill for 60-90 minutes at 300°F using direct heat. The time will vary depending on the thickness and marbling of the meat.
Step Four: After the ribs have reached an internal temperature of 200°F, it is time to add the glaze and finish it off. Prepare the foil for the ribs by laying out two layers on the countertop. Add the brown sugar, butter, and honey as shown in the photo above.
Note: While the USDA notes that 145°F is the minimum temperature to cook pork, it will result in tough and rubbery ribs. Instead, let these come up to about 200°F. That extra temperature will break down the connective tissue and will result in extremely tender and tasty pork ribs.
Step Five: Remove the ribs from the grill (we like to place them on a baking sheet) and add them to the foil. Fold the foil over to seal everything together and let it grill for 30 more minutes.
Step Six: Coat the ribs in the glaze or a barbecue sauce for the last five to ten minutes of grilling. Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board or a platter. Let the ribs rest for five minutes before serving.
Step Seven. Use a sharp knife to slice the racks into individual ribs. Simply slide the knife into the meaty section in between the bones. Brush with extra glaze or BBQ sauce before serving and enjoy!
Put out your charcoal grill in a snap with these couple of tricks.
❗ Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Overlap the foil so that you don’t have any leakage of butter which can cause flare-ups on your grill.
- Make sure you rub the “dry rub” into your meat for best results. Cover both sides of the rack of ribs.
- The easiest way to remove the membrane is to make a large slit down the membrane on the backside of the ribs or use a butter knife to slide under it and pull it up. Use a paper towel for grip because it is very slippery. The membrane should pull off in two halves – one on each side of the slit. If it does not, just lift the corner with a knife again and repeat the process until all of the silver skin is removed.
- If the ribs feel gritty when you remove them from the packaging, run them under cold water. The butchering process can leave bone chips on the meat.
- The dry rub recipe will cover three racks of ribs. Each rack will contain between 10-13 ribs. You should plan on at least 4 ribs per person and up to one rack per person if you have hungry college boys just coming back from the gym.
- Spread a layer of yellow mustard over the ribs to help the dry rub better stick to the meat. You won’t feel the mustard flavor in the cooked ribs but their acidic nature does help tenderize the meat.
- Don’t add watery ingredients inside the foil wrap. You might find others using liquids such as broth, apple juice, and apple cider vinegar but for this recipe, we do not want to boil the ribs. Stick to a glaze or a BBQ sauce for the best results.
- Some grillers like to let the ribs come up to room temperature before grilling them. Others say this is a myth and doesn’t impact the final dish. Those who prefer this method say that if the ribs are 20ºF closer to the final temperature when you start, you will have less overcooked meat on the outside by the time they finish. It takes about 30-60 minutes for ribs to come up to room temperature when sitting out on the counter, so if you have the time it is worth trying. Let us know in the comments what you think!
🧑🍳 Storage and Reheating
👉Refrigerate leftover ribs in an airtight container or freezer-quality sealed plastic bag for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. You can easily reheat ribs using various methods and this can be done straight from frozen.
👉Ribs are best right off the grill. However, the nice thing about Grilled St Louis Ribs is that you can easily reheat them in a skillet since the rack is mostly flat on the meaty side. Add some butter or a little bit of vegetable oil and get it hot first. It should only take a few minutes to heat the ribs through. Add sauce to spruce them up. If you have an entire rack to reheat at once you can do that on the grill or in the oven.
👉If you don’t want to reheat the meat on the bone, you can cut it off the bone before placing it in the refrigerator. The leftover meat can be enjoyed as is or diced up for chili, baked potato topping, or rib meat sandwiches.
Mix the dry rub ahead of time and keep it in a sealed jar. It makes enough for 3 racks of ribs, so if you aren’t feeding a crowd you can keep this for several weeks at room temperature and just make sure to stir or shake it well before using it.
Make the glaze up to 3 days ahead. Cook the glaze in a saucepan and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. When you are ready to use it, heat it up and apply it to the ribs.
🌶️Additions and Substitutions
St Louis ribs can take a lot of different seasonings, sauces, and cooking techniques. Here are some ideas to make them fun every single time:
DIY Dry Rub
Making a homemade dry rub for ribs is exceptionally easy but optional. Alternatively, purchase your favorite rub from the local grocery store or specialty shop. We are partial to the Dizzy Pig rubs found at Whole Foods.
With simple ingredients like salt, black pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, herbs such as thyme and oregano, and spicy ingredients like chili powder you can create a new rub. These are pantry staples so I’m sure you have some of them on hand.
Instead of the honey, butter, and brown sugar glaze we used, you absolutely have to try the Bourbon honey mustard glaze we used on this bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. It comes together in minutes and the flavor is so rich!
Instead of glaze, you can use your favorite barbecue sauce. A sweet and spicy tomato-based sauce is a more traditional St. Louis favorite, if you want to give that a try. Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce is one example of a spicy-sweet tomato-based sauce we enjoy.
I also used this cherry Bourbon BBQ sauce on ribs and it was a fantastic pairing!
Other Types Of Ribs
If you have baby back ribs instead of St. Louis Style spareribs, you can use the same recipe and cooking method, just a shorter cooking time. You might prefer to whip out your smoker and use the technique of smoked baby back ribs instead.
👨🍳How To Make St. Louis Style Ribs In The Oven
If you can’t grill, follow the same basic recipe using your oven. You won’t get that nice crusty bark or smoke flavor you get from the grill but you will still have tasty results.
- Preheat oven to 300°F | 150°C.
- Mix dry rub ingredients until well combined and transfer to a jar.
- Use a paper towel to pull off the membrane of the ribs then pat them dry.
- Rub the seasoning on the ribs making sure all spots are covered. Be generous!
- Place the ribs on a sheet pan and bake for 60-90 minutes. This time is an approximation. Always measure the internal temperature of the ribs and take them out when they reach 200°F.
- In a small bowl, mix the honey, butter, and brown sugar to make the glaze.
- Apply a uniform layer of glaze and place the sauced ribs back in the oven.
- Broil for a few minutes for the glaze to caramelize.
- Rest for 5 minutes and serve!
Our grilled St Louis ribs recipe works great with so many BBQ sides!
The dishes below are all classic sides for ribs and it’s nice to have a few of them on the table for variety:
- A crunchy coleslaw is a great way to lighten up the rich and satiating St Louis ribs as long as you don’t use too much mayo or opt for a lighter, yogurt-based dressing.
- Another great way to lower the calorie count of your feast without compromising on flavor is to serve some grilled or smoked veggies like grilled corn on the cob in the husk, grilled sweet potato wedges, grilled broccolini, grilled patty pan squash, or smoked asparagus bundles.
- Cornbread is another BBQ staple side that will make those ribs even more satisfying!
- Grilled Bourbon peach baked beans are a delicious variation of this traditional side and match made in heaven for grilled St. Louis style ribs, and other grilled meats.
- Smoked potato salad, pasta salad, and grilled mac and cheese are flavor-packed sides you can make ahead of your BBQ gathering.
- Garlic bread and homemade soft pretzel bites will be fabulous next to ribs. Even better if you also include a dipping sauce among your sides.
♨️More Smoked And Grilled Rib Recipes
Let’s explore more rib-tastic adventures that will please your taste buds in new and exciting ways!
When you’re not in a rush, you won’t regret the extra time needed to make these smoked St. Louis style ribs. The smoky flavor is off the charts!
We love this recipe for grilled plum jam pork ribs if you want to try a little something different next time.
❓ Recipe FAQ
It will take 1.5 -2 hours to make St. Louis style ribs on the grill at 300°F. The important thing is to grill based on internal temperature. Make sure the ribs get to at least 200°F before removing from the grill. This is the internal temp to aim for if you want a pull of the bone texture.
It’s really difficult to get a temperature on rib meat because the bones throw thermometers off. The best way to judge doneness is time and tenderness.
300ºF for the first 1.5 -2 hours with a final 5-10 minutes at 375ºF to get a little crispiness on the exterior.
You really can’t grill your ribs any faster unless you want chewy, tough meat. Our recipe can be ready in as little as 1.5 hours.
Baby back ribs are cut from a section that is closer to the spine known as the loin and left in their natural shape. Compared to St. Louis ribs, they’re significantly leaner. St. Louis Ribs are trimmed to be perfectly rectangular and come from the belly of the animal – the spare rib.
The St. Louis style rib is larger and more meaty than the baby back cut and also has beautiful fat for flavor. Read more about the differences between St. Louis vs Baby Back Ribs in our dedicated guide.
The cooking method is exactly the same. Baby back ribs will cook faster because they are smaller and have less meat.
Yes. The St. Louis style cut ribs are larger than baby back and will require more time on the grill.
Maybe. This depends on the butcher. If the membrane is present, it should be removed before you add the dry rub.
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Grilled St Louis Ribs
- Sharp Knife
- ¼ cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Sweet Paprika
- 2 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 2 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tbsp Cracked Pepper
Brown Sugar Glaze
- 4 tbsp Butter unsalted
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Honey
St Louis Ribs
- 1 rack St Louis Style Ribs
- Combine all of the ingredients for the rub together in a bowl and stir break up all the chunks. ***There is enough rub to cover 3 RACKS OF RIBS***
- Remove the membrane, if it is still attached. The easiest way to remove it is to make a large slit down the back side of the membrane on the backside of the ribs.
- Using the combined rub from above, apply the rub on both sides of the rack of ribs and rub it into the meat.
- Heat up the grill to 300 degrees and place the ribs on the grill bone side down for 60-90 minutes.
- Lay out several layers of foil, overlapping so there isn't any leakage.
- Using ingredients from Brown Sugar Glaze: Place the brown sugar, honey and butter on the foil, place the ribs meat side down onto the brown sugar mix and the bring the sides of the foil up to fold tightly. Bring in the ends of the foil and fold tightly.
- Place ribs back on the grill for 30 minutes and the allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Bring the temperature up on the grill to 375 degrees and place the ribs back on the grill for 5-10 minutes, to create a little bit of char to the glaze.
- Remove from grill and allow to rest 5 minutes before digging in.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the racks into individual ribs. Simply slide the knife into the meaty section in between the bones. Brush with extra glaze or BBQ sauce before serving and enjoy!