How to Boil Baby Back Ribs Before Grilling

by Alicia Kay ; Updated November 01, 2017

From dry rubs to sweet and tangy marinades to hickory smoked and slow cooked – you’ll be hard pressed to find barbecue lovers who don’t swear by their favorite recipes. The truth is that when it comes to ribs, it’s all about personal preference. Versatile baby back ribs – cuts of pork ribs from the lower back ribs – are touted as the leanest and most tender rib cuts. Boil baby back ribs before grilling to tenderize the meat, retain its moisture and cut back on grill time.

Step 1

Lay the slabs of baby back ribs on a cutting board. Use a knife with a sharp blade, such as a boning or butcher knife, to cut the baby back ribs into smaller slabs of three to four ribs.

Step 2

Place the baby back ribs into a large boiling pot, such as a 60-quart aluminum stew or stock pot. Fill the pot with cold water until the ribs are covered.

Step 3

Add a dash of salt to the pot. If you are adding dry seasonings or vinegar to the pot, this is the time to do it. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Step 4

Cook the baby back ribs until they are tender – about 45 minutes to an hour. You will know the tender ribs have been adequately boiled when the pink and red hues on the outer layers of the raw ribs have turned light brown.

Step 5

Use barbecue tongs to remove the baby back ribs from the pot and place them on a baking sheet. While adding seasonings to the boiling pot of water does add flavor to ribs, you may choose to apply additional seasonings, marinade or dry rub before grilling them.

Step 6

Wrap the baby back ribs in aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or until you are ready to throw them on the grill.

Items you will need

  • Large boiling pot
  • Salt
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Seasonings, optional
  • Vinegar, optional
  • Barbecue tongs
  • Baking sheet
  • Marinade, optional
  • Dry rub, optional
  • Aluminum foil


  • Boiling baby back ribs can cut grilling time significantly, to as few as 10 to 15 minutes.

    Grill masters and amateurs alike boil baby back ribs with various vegetables, seasonings such as bay leaves and whole peppercorns, and even apple juice and beer. Others soak their baby back ribs in apple cider vinegar before boiling. Find a recipe you love or create your own – the possibilities are truly endless.


  • Refrigerate the ribs if you do not intend to grill them immediately after boiling. Leaving meat at room temperature for more than about an hour can trigger the spoiling process.

    Always use a fresh batch of marinade if you intend to marinate your baby back ribs before and after boiling. Using the same marinade for raw ribs and cooked ribs can encourage the spread of harmful bacteria.

    Wash your hands and exposed kitchen/cooking equipment after handling raw meat.

About the Author

Alicia Kay began her career as the features editor for a regional bimonthly magazine and has since worked as a professional writer, editor and public relations specialist in the U.S. and abroad. Her work has been published in "Asian Geographic" magazine, among others. She graduated from Texas Christian University with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and is pursuing a master's degree in business communications.