There are many BBQ lovers who love grilling their food items to get crispy and crusty results, which isn’t a bad idea. But when it comes to grilling beef and other ribs, people are mainly concerned about whether to flip the ribs during the grilling process or not.
We are here to help if you are also looking for a detailed answer. In this article, you will learn when it is essential to flip your ribs and when it is not during the grilling process.
No, you don’t need to flip ribs when grilling if you cook them with low and indirect heat or use a rib rack. But if you prefer grilling ribs over direct or high heat, you should flip them every 20 to 30 minutes to ensure even cooking and prevent them from becoming charred or burnt on one side.
Grilling Ribs – When To Flip And When To Not
One of the most heated debates among BBQ lovers is whether to flip ribs or not because it directly impacts the taste, flavor, and tenderness of the ribs you are grilling.
There are different scenarios where flipping ribs during grilling may or may not be recommended. Let’s find when to flip and when to not.
Grilling Ribs With Indirect Heat
Ribs offer a delicious taste and unique smoky flavor when you cook them through indirect heat, which is why most people prefer smoking them.
Now, if we assume that you are grilling ribs with indirect heat (which is recommended), there is no need to flip your ribs frequently.
The justification behind this is that indirect heat allows for even heat distribution and low and slow cooking.
As a result, your beef and other types of ribs cook evenly with reasonable tenderness and juiciness inside. Also, the indirect heat decreases the chances of burnt or overcooked ribs, which ribs lovers mainly dislike.
Grilling Ribs Using Direct Heat
Direct heat refers to the grilling method in which you place the food directly over the heat source, whether it is gas, charcoal, or wood pellets.
We advise you to flip your ribs every 20 to 30 minutes if you are fond of grilling them at a higher and direct heat.
Whether you do not flip ribs purposely or unintentionally (at a higher and direct heat), you may end up with overcooked, dry, and tough ribs with less moisture and tenderness.
If you are short on time, you would be most likely to grill ribs on a higher and direct heat so that you can prepare your meal faster.
It is not something that we don’t recommend, but you might face consequences you were not expecting, like dry and tough meat, which can be challenging to eat.
Grilling Ribs Using Rib Rack
A rib rack is a valuable tool that helps in holding and cooking multiple ribs at once. It allows for even cooking, and you can use it in both a smoker or grill.
If you are familiar with the rib rack and often use it to grill your ribs, you don’t need to flip the ribs when cooking them with the rack.
The reason is that it holds the ribs in an upright position which allows the heat to penetrate from top and bottom, cooking them evenly. But ensure to monitor the meat’s internal temperature to avoid overcooking.
Grilling Different Types Of Ribs
The type of ribs also plays its role in deciding if you should flip them when grilling or not. There are two important characteristics that you should see in the ribs if they contain more fat or meat.
Now, if you have ribs that have plenty of meat over the bones, they can be suitable for grilling, and you should flip them, too, probably after 20 to 30 minutes.
Conversely, if your ribs have more fat than the meat, we advise you to smoke ribs at a low temperature without flipping them.
So, some ribs will demand flipping during the cooking process while others do not, depending on the meat, fat, and size.
Pros Of Flipping Ribs When Grilling
When grilling ribs through direct heat, you need to flip ribs, and you can have many advantages. Read on to learn how flipping the ribs improves the overall grilling process.
- It ensures your food gets cooked evenly from outside to inside.
- You get sear marks and crispy texture from both sides when you flip ribs them frequently.
- Flipping also reduces the risk of burning or overcooking your ribs.
- Your ribs are unlikely to stick on the grill grates when you often flip them.
Cons Of Flipping Ribs When Grilling
When flipping ribs unnecessarily, you may face some disadvantages mentioned below.
- Your grilled ribs may not provide you with delicious smoky flavors.
- Flipping the ribs sometimes expands the cooking session.
- The ribs may lose their moisture when you flip them frequently.
How To Set Up Different Grills For Indirect Heating?
If you don’t have access to a smoker or you are fond of accomplishing your BBQ tasks on your grill. You should know how you can set up your grill for indirect heating so that you can achieve the desired results whenever you need to cook ribs.
Let’s help you understand how you can prepare different types of grills for indirect heat.
How To Set Up Gas Grill For Indirect Heat?
Setting up indirect heat on a gas grill is entirely different from the charcoal grill because they use different heat sources. Follow the steps below and cook your foods with indirect heat using a gas grill.
- Start by cleaning your grill grates using a grill brush to remove the leftover food or debris.
- Make sure all the knobs of the grill are turned off and then open the lid of the grill.
- Gradually turn on the valve on your propane tank so that the gas reaches the grill slowly and steadily, which can take 1 or 2 minutes.
- Ignite each burner of your gas grill and keep the lid closed. Keep in mind that it is important to begin preheating with all burners on.
- Set the temperature to its highest settings (500 to 550 Degrees Fahrenheit) and let the grill preheat. It can take around 15 to 20 minutes, depending on its module.
- Now comes the most important step for indirect heating. If your grill has two burners, shut down one and place your ribs directly over it.
- If your gas grill comes up with three burners, turn off the middle one and place ribs over it.
- In case a gas grill has four burners, and you want to set it up for indirect heat, you will need to turn off the two burners that are in the middle and set your ribs in the middle of the grill.
- Lastly, set the ribs inside, close the lid, and begin grilling your meal. In short, you place the ribs above a burner that does not provide heat.
How To Set Up Charcoal Grill For Indirect Heat
Compared to gas grills, charcoal ones are relatively easy to set up for indirect cooking. Follow the steps we have mentioned below.
- Buy quality charcoals like Hickory and Mesquite because they provide consistent heat and burn efficiently for a long time.
- Ignite the charcoals in a chimney starter using a newspaper or a fire starter and let them become completely red, which can take around 15 minutes.
- Once the coals are ready, create two zones set up for which you will need to throw burning coals on one side of the grill, place them in a good sequence, and let the other side stay empty, or you can place a drip pan there.
- As indirect grilling requires low or medium heat, you can keep the grill’s vents closed to reduce the oxygen supply and maintain the temperature easily.
- Another setup you can follow is distributing the burning coals in two parts and leaving the middle part empty.
- So, after creating two-zone or three-zone settings, let the burning coals wear a layer of gray ash and then close the grill’s lid for preheating.
- Preheating can take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the desired internal temperature you want in the cooking chamber.
So, after taking these steps, you can set up your charcoal grill for indirect heating.
Preventing Tough Ribs on the Grill – Useful Tips
If you like grilling your ribs but they often become tough, you can repel this problem by following a couple of expert tips.
Keep Temperature Low And Slow
We highly recommend cooking ribs at a lower or medium heat no matter what cooking method you use because ribs are a tough meat cut that requires a longer cooking session at a lower heat.
To achieve this task, we recommend indirect heat, monitoring the grill temperature throughout the grilling session, and keeping it consistent. As a result, your ribs cook to perfection and don’t become dry or tough.
Use Rib Rack
As mentioned above, a rib rack can be a handy tool for several reasons when it comes to grilling or smoking ribs. For example, it can handle multiple ribs at once, which allows you to cook ribs for more people in one go.
Most importantly, when you set the ribs in the rib rack, it holds them in an upright position which lets the heat or smoke penetrate evenly inside the ribs, cooking them perfectly from all sides without overcooking or making them tough.
Flipping Recommendations For Ribs
The table below suggests whether flipping ribs is recommended or not based on different grilling methods.
|Grilling Method||Flip Ribs?|
|Indirect Heat Grilling||No|
|Direct Heat Grilling||Yes|
|Rib Rack Grilling||No|
|Ribs With More Meat||Yes|
|Ribs With More Fat||No|
Wrapping It Up
Flipping ribs is sometimes necessary, but not always. It depends on the type of ribs and whether you are grilling them over direct or indirect heat.
To achieve optimal results when grilling ribs, we would say it is better to smoke them over indirect heat so that you don’t overcook them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you flip ribs in foil on the grill?
Flipping your ribs on the grill is unnecessary if you are grilling them inside aluminum foil. The reason is that the foil paper helps create a moist environment and produces steam, allowing for even cooking and keeping the ribs reasonably moist.
Do you grill ribs bone up or down?
Grilling ribs bone side down offers better results and taste because the bones act like a shield, keeping the meaty parts away from direct heat that can cause them to burn or become overly charred.
Should you flip ribs when grilling if you want to get sear marks?
Yes, why not. If you are grilling your ribs on direct heat and you flip them occasionally, it can help you create sear marks on the meat. But we recommend you first cook your ribs using indirect heat to achieve tenderness, and then you can transfer your ribs to hot grills over direct heat to develop sear marks within a quick time.
Robert Gill, a BBQ enthusiast, and Senior Author at FaveGrills.com bring his extensive knowledge of BBQ equipment and exciting recipes to the team. With his outgoing personality and love for BBQ, Robert plays an essential role in the FaveGrills community, sharing his passion and expertise through informative articles and gear reviews.