Tender, juicy, smoky ribs are a summertime staple. Whether you’re celebrating Father’s Day, Independence Day, or just having a cookout with friends and family, ribs are always a dish guests love sinking their teeth into. Preparing smokehouse-worthy ribs right at home is easier than you think! We’ve got some expert tips for you so you can learn how to cook ribs like a pro, and a delicious recipe courtesy of Hickory Farms employee and BBQ champ Matt Barys.

how to cook ribs like a pro


If you want to enjoy ribs year-round, cooking them in the oven is your best bet. Cooking ribs in the oven is super easy, and you can cook them fast or slow depending on your preference. For quicker ribs, use the broiler, and for a slower method, set the temperature low and let them bake for a few hours. We love this recipe from Inspired Taste.

Slow Cooker

Slow cookers can do everything—even help you make super tender and juicy ribs. Cooking your ribs in a slow cooker is the most hands-off way to get the meal you crave. You can cook them on low for 8-10 hours and they’ll be fall-off-the-bone tender. If you’re missing the caramelization you get from more traditional cooking methods, you can finish them off under the broiler for a few minutes to get them crispy on the outside. Try this recipe from The Stay at Home Chef.


The secret to grilling tender ribs is low and slow. After prepping your ribs with your favorite rubs or marinades, grill them over indirect heat and give them plenty of time. Cooking ribs too quickly on the grill over high heat will make them tough and chewier than you’d like. Start with cooking them for 30 minutes on each side over indirect medium heat. After the first hour, you can move them to direct heat and cook for an extra 20-40 minutes, or until they’re done. You can tell the ribs are done when they’re fork-tender, meaning if you pierce with a fork it will glide through. Also, you can twist an individual rib—if it gives easily, you’re ready to eat! Check out this easy and delicious recipe from The Food Network.

From Our Kitchen

Hickory Farms employee and BBQ Champion Matt Barys has developed a prize-winning rub, sauce, and preparation method that would be perfect to showcase our Premium Pork Ribs. Try it at your next gathering for a truly crowd-pleasing meal!


How to cook ribs with a dry rub

This dry rub will make your ribs perfectly seasoned.

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup paprika
  • 1/3 cup garlic salt
  • 2 TBS onion salt
  • 2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 1 TSP cumin
  • 2 TBS Sugar, preferably turbinado (raw sugar)

Mix all the ingredients together and use your hand to sift through mixture, incorporating all ingredients well. For even better blending, use a food processor and gently grind all ingredients. Your rub doesn’t need to be a powder, but all of the ingredients should be similarly sized and well mixed.

Dry rub rib prep


Rib prep with sauce

This Kansas City-style sauce is slightly sweet to complement the rub.

  • 16 oz. tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 12 oz. chili sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • ½ cup dry rub
  • 1 tbs your favorite hot sauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a pot and turn the heat to medium-high. When the sauce starts bubbling, turn down to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly. After 30 minutes, take pot off burner and let sit for 30 minutes.

Rib Prep

  1. Take the ribs out of the package and rinse. Pat both sides dry with a paper towel.
  2. Place the ribs bone side up in a pan or cutting board and remove the membrane. The membrane is a thin layer over the bones will make the ribs tough if it’s not removed. Slide a butter knife under the membrane on one side to get it started. Once you have enough to grasp, use a dry paper towel and pull the membrane off. It should come off the first pull, but sometimes it will break. Just continue working it with a paper towel.
  3. After the membrane has been removed, season the ribs. To keep the rub on the ribs, you can apply a thin layer of mustard before sprinkling on the rub (we like our Sweet Hot or Honey Pineapple mustards). Apply the rub liberally, then wait 15 minutes for the rub to “sweat” into the meat. The ribs will look wet.
  4. Flip the ribs over so they’re bone side down and repeat step 3.
  5. Start your oven or grill and set temperature to 250 degrees. If you’re using a grill, set up a two-zone system (one side with the coals and the other side with a drip pan underneath).
  6. Place the ribs on the grill or in the oven and cook for 4 hrs.
  7. Check the ribs for doneness. Using a thermometer, check that the ribs are at least 201 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, pick the ribs up from the middle. If both ends stay on the grate or pan and the middle starts cracking, they’re done. They need more time if you pick the ribs up from the middle and you pick the whole slab up.
  8. Let them rest on the table for 10 minutes before slicing. If saucing the ribs, brush the sauce on now as it rests.
  9. Cut the ribs by flipping them bone side up, and start slicing between the bones from one side.

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