Pitmaster Breaks Down The Worst Way To Cook Ribs

Cooking outdoors is one of the greatest joys of summer, but if you're going to go to all the effort of firing up the grill, why not cook something juicy, meaty, and guaranteed to be delicious? Sure, hamburgers and hot dogs are a cheaper option if you're feeding the whole neighborhood, and chicken and veggies can be nice budget-friendly options, too, but if you're cooking for your family alone, you couldn't ask for a better meal than tasty barbecued ribs.

Still, ribs aren't completely foolproof, at least not if you follow the advice of people who really don't know what they're talking about when it comes to this cut of meat. In order to find out what you should definitely not be doing when it comes to grilling ribs, we spoke with pitmaster and Traeger Grills Ambassador Danielle "Diva Q" Bennett and she told us that the one thing you absolutely should not do, even if Martha Stewart's own website recommends it: "Never ever boil your ribs."

Why you shouldn't boil ribs

Yes, Martha may be a world-famous domestic diva, but is she a pitmaster? No, she most certainly is not. While Martha has many unexpected talents, evidently barbecue is not among her numerous areas of expertise, since her rib recipe calling for pre-boiling gives us a bum steer. 

That is why we're listening to the advice from "Diva Q" Bennett instead. She insists, "Any recipe that recommends boiling ribs and calls itself BBQ is just wrong," explaining that boiling ribs would be "like boiling steak," because it "remov[es] all of the delicious flavor from the internal marbling. When you boil ribs, you are removing the collagen and tasty fats from the pork meat. That gets tossed away with the water. You will end up with very bland ribs. " 

So how should you be cooking your ribs, then? Bennett says slow smoking is best since this method helps to render the fats throughout the meat, thus leading to "a much more enjoyable, flavorful rib."

Another rib-cooking mistake to avoid

Bennett also mentions one more pitfall that may be in store for the uninformed (or misinformed) barbecuer: making the mistake of cooking ribs the ribs too fast and over too high a heat. Ribs aren't steak, and a quick sear won't bring out their best flavor since they need some time to reach their peak of perfection. 

According to Bennett, "If you cook your ribs on high heat, you are seizing up the protein strands and connective tissues. This pushes the interior liquid of the ribs out too fast. This makes the ribs much tougher in addition to [allowing] the possibility to burn." Instead, she says ribs should always be cooked "low and slow," as this "allows for the meat to relax more and allows the connective tissues to break down and liquefy slower, keeping the meat more flavorful." So yeah, good ribs may take a little time, but the results are going to be well worth the wait.