How To Smoke Ribs On a Charcoal Grill [Complete Recipe]

Are you prepared to step up your grilling skills? The best way to serve juicy, tasty meat to your guests and family is to smoke ribs over charcoal.

You can make delectable ribs that will have everyone asking for seconds by following a few easy steps. On a charcoal grill, the secret to preparing ribs is to simmer them at a specific low temperature for some time

It allows the smoke to infuse the heart, creating a delicious smoky flavor and tender texture. So, grab your charcoal grill, and let’s get smoking!

Related Articles:

How To Smoke Ribs On A Charcoal Grill- Step By Step Guide

How To Smoke Ribs On A Charcoal Grill

1- Choose Your Ribs:

When selecting your ribs, look for ones that are fresh and meaty. Baby back ribs are famous because they are tender and cook relatively quickly.

St. Louis-style ribs have more meat and take some time to cook, but they are also a delicious option. Whatever type of ribs you choose, ensure they are well-trimmed with excess fat removed.

2- Prepare Your Grill

Start by lighting the charcoal in your grill after loading it with food. Afterward, arrange the coals carefully to one side of the grill, and create a two-zone fire once the charcoal is hot and the flames have subsided.

Add a drip pan to the grill’s cooler side to catch any drips and stop flare-ups. You’ll have a hot side for searing and a cold side for smoking.

3- Prep Your Ribs

Before you season your ribs, remove the membrane on the back of the ribs. This tough membrane can prevent the seasoning from penetrating the meat and make the ribs more challenging.

Loosen the membrane with a knife, then grab it carefully using a paper towel and pull it off. Season your ribs with your preferred dry rub or marinade.

Alternatively, mix your seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and other spices. Ensure both sides of the ribs are evenly seasoned as you rub the seasoning on them. Before cooking, let the seasoning remain on the ribs for at least 30 minutes.

4- Start Smoking:

Once your grill is ready and your ribs are seasoned, place the ribs on the cooler side of the grill with the bone side down. You can also use a rib rack to stand the ribs upright and save space on the grill.

Close the lid and let them smoke for about 2-3 hours, depending on the size of your ribs. To keep the smoke going, you can add wood chips or chunks to the coals every hour.

You can use a variety of wood flavors, such as hickory, apple, cherry, or mesquite, to give your ribs a unique smoky flavor.

5- Check For Doneness

After about 2-3 hours, check the internal temperature of the ribs with a meat thermometer. They should be at around 200-205°F for perfectly tender and juicy meat.

If they need more time, keep smoking them until they reach the desired temperature. You can also check for doneness by picking up the ribs with tongs and seeing if the meat starts pulling away from the bones. If it is, they are ready to be moved to the hot side of the grill for searing.

6- Finish On The Hot Side

Move your ribs to the hot side of the grill when they’re almost done to sear and caramelize the outside.

To obtain a beautiful char on both sides, flip them once or twice during the final 5 to 10 minutes of cooking after brushing them with your preferred BBQ sauce.

Because the sauce contains sugar, which rapidly burns over high heat, don’t burn it.

7- Rest And Serve:

Remove the ribs carefully from the grill and let them rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. The meat becomes more tender and juicy due to the redistribution of the liquids during resting.

Serve your delicious, smoky ribs with your favorite sides and sauces, such as coleslaw, cornbread, baked beans, or potato salad.

How To Grill Ribs On Charcoal Fast?

To quickly grill ribs on a charcoal grill, start by preheating the grill for around 15-20 minutes at a high temperature.

Make sure to trim or remove the excess fat from the ribs and remove the membrane while the grill is heating up.

Then, season the ribs with a dry rub or marinade. When the grill is hot, move the burning charcoal to one side of the grill and leave the other side empty to create an indirect heat zone.

Aim for a temperature of about 250-275°F and place the ribs on the side of the grill that has no charcoal below until the ribs are cooked to your preferred level of doneness, which should take around 2-3 hours total, baste and flip them with BBQ sauce every 15 minutes.

To speed up the process of grilling on a charcoal grill, you can try a few techniques, such as using a chimney starter to get the charcoal burning quickly.

Adding more charcoal during the cooking process to maintain heat, or using a high-heat searing technique to cook the ribs swiftly before moving them to the indirect heat zone.

However, it’s important to remember that grilling ribs on charcoal is a slow and steady process that requires patience and attention to detail to achieve the best results.

How To Choose The Right Charcoal For Smoking Ribs?

Choosing the right charcoal for smoking ribs is integral to achieving delicious and flavorful results. Here are some valuable and amazing tips for choosing the right charcoal for smoking ribs:

1. Look For Quality:

Select premium charcoal created from natural hardwood and free of additives and chemicals. This will guarantee an even burn and clean, smoky flavor from the charcoal.

2. Choose The Right Size:

Select a charcoal size that is appropriate for your smoker or grill. Larger chunks of charcoal will burn longer and produce more smoke, while smaller pieces will burn faster and hotter.

3. Consider The Wood Type:

Several different hardwoods may be used to make charcoal, and each one gives the meat a different flavor. Fruitwoods like apple and cherry and the hardwoods hickory and mesquite are frequently used to make charcoal.

4. Check For Additives:

Some charcoals may contain additives such as accelerants or binders, which can affect the flavor of the meat. Look for charcoal labeled as 100% natural with no added chemicals or binders.

5. Consider Your Budget:

Charcoal can vary in price, so consider your budget when selecting charcoal for smoking ribs. While high-end charcoal may offer better flavor, budget-friendly options can still produce great results.

How Long To Cook Ribs On A Charcoal Grill?

Type of Ribs Temperature Cooking Time
Baby Back Ribs 225-250°F 2-3 hours
St. Louis Style Spare Ribs 225-250°F 3-4 hours
Beef Ribs 225-250°F 4-5 hours


The cooking time for ribs on a charcoal grill will depend on a few factors, such as the type of ribs, the size, and the grill’s temperature. As a general guideline, here’s a breakdown of the approximate cooking time for different kinds of ribs on a charcoal grill:

  • Baby back ribs: Cook for 2-3 hours at a temperature of 225-250°F or unless you find the temperature reaches up to 180°F.
  • Louis-style spare ribs: Cook for 3-4 hours at a temperature of 225-250°F or until you find the internal temperature reaches 190°F.
  • Beef ribs: Cook for 4-5 hours at a temperature of 225-250°F or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 200°F.

Several different hardwoods may be used to make charcoal, and each one gives the meat a different flavor. Fruitwoods like apple and cherry and the hardwoods hickory and mesquite are frequently used to make charcoal.

In summary, the cooking time for ribs on a charcoal grill can range from 2-5 hours depending on the specific type of ribs and the temperature of the grill, and it’s essential to examine the internal temperature and ensure it’s fully cooked and safe to eat.

How To Control The Temperature For Smoking Ribs On A Charcoal Grill?

Controlling the temperature when smoking ribs on a charcoal grill is essential to achieving the best results. Here are some tips for maintaining consistent temperature when smoking ribs on a charcoal grill:

Control The Temperature For Smoking Ribs

1. Set Up A Two-Zone Fire:

Divide the charcoal grill into two zones by placing all the lit charcoal on one side and leaving the other empty. It will create a more relaxed zone for the ribs to cook in without exposure to direct heat.

2. Use A Thermometer:

Use a thermometer to monitor the grill’s and the ribs’ internal temperatures. Aim for a temperature between 225-250°F for cooking ribs on a charcoal grill.

3. Adjust The Vents:

Adjust the vents on the bottom and top of the grill to control the airflow and temperature. Opening the vents will increase the temperature while closing them will decrease it.

4. Add More Charcoal:

Add more amount of charcoal as needed to maintain the desired temperature. Be sure to light the charcoal separately before adding it to the grill to avoid disrupting the cooking process.

5. Use A Water Pan:

Placing a water pan under the ribs can help regulate the temperature and moisten the meat. The water evaporates slowly, creating a humid environment that prevents the ribs from drying.

Tips For Achieving Tender And Juicy Smoked Ribs On A Charcoal Grill

1. Use A Dry Rub:

A good dry rub is critical to achieving great flavor and tenderizing the meat. Apply the rub generously to the meat, and leave it for 30 minutes before beginning the cooking.

2. Control The Temperature:

Maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial for achieving tender and juicy smoked ribs. Aim for a temperature range of 225-250°F and focus on the internal temperature of the meat with a meat thermometer.

3. Use A Water Pan:

A water pan can help regulate the grill’s temperature and moisten the meat during cooking. Add water to the pan and place it directly beneath the flesh.

4. Wrap The Ribs:

Wrap the ribs in foil or using butcher paper halfway through the cooking process can help to retain moisture and promote tenderness.

5. Let The Meat Rest:

Once the ribs are fully cooked, rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing, which allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in more tender and juicy ribs.

6. Experiment With Wood Chips:

Different types of wood chips can impart different flavors to the meat. Experiment with different kinds of wood chips and make it easy to find your favorite flavor.


What Kind Of Charcoal Should I Use To Smoke Ribs?

When smoking ribs on a charcoal grill, it’s best to use natural hardwood lump charcoal or natural hardwood briquettes.

Avoid using charcoal that contains fillers, chemicals, or additives, as they can affect the flavor of the meat.

What Is The Ideal Temperature To Smoke Ribs On A Charcoal Grill?

The ideal temperature range for smoking ribs on a charcoal grill is between 225-250°F. This slow-cooking method allows the meat to cook slowly and quickly, resulting in tender and juicy ribs.

What Is The 3 2 1 Rule For Smoking Ribs?

A common technique for smoking ribs over charcoal is the 3 2 1 rule.

On a charcoal barbecue, ribs are cooked for 3 hours uncovered, followed by 2 hours in foil, and then 1 hour located once more. This technique makes the meat more likely to be well-cooked and has a lovely exterior bark.

What Quantity Of Charcoal Do I Need To Smoke A Rack Of Ribs?

Your grill’s size and the time required to cook the ribs over charcoal will determine how much charcoal you need. For a standard-sized grill to smoke a rack of ribs for 4-6 hours, you’ll typically require 6-8 pounds of charcoal.

How Long Do You Smoke The Ribs At 225 Charcoal Grill?

At a temperature of 225°F, baby back ribs will take approximately 2-3 hours to smoke, while St. Louis-style spare ribs will take around 3-4 hours.

It’s essential to monitor the internal using a meat thermometer to check the meat’s temperature and ensure it is fully cooked and completely safe to eat.


Smoking ribs may be a laborious but worthwhile procedure on a charcoal barbecue that yields supple, juicy meat with a great smokey taste.

You can produce perfectly cooked and delectable ribs that will please your visitors by adhering to the suggestions and methods presented in this talk, such as applying a dry rub, managing the temperature, and wrapping the ribs.

Use natural hardwood charcoal or briquettes, keep an eye on the meat’s internal temperature, and try out several wood chips to find your preferred flavor.

With time and effort, smoking ribs over charcoal can become a favorite summertime activity and delectable addition to your backyard barbecues.

Also Read:

What Temp To Pull Pork Butt?

Leave a Comment