Ina’s Dirty Little Secret for the Best BBQ Ribs Ever

Plus, her top five grilling tips that really work.

Ina Garten with French Fig Tart, as seen on Barefoot Contessa: Back to the Basics, Season 16.

Ina Garten with French Fig Tart, as seen on Barefoot Contessa: Back to the Basics, Season 16.

“How many times have you had ribs where they’re just burnt to a crisp and there’s nothing left?” Ina asked in her grilling episode of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro. Well, she’s got a method that takes the guesswork out of grilling ribs and it just requires a little bit of, er, cheating.

”The dirty little secret about my foolproof ribs,” Ina said, "is they’re actually cooked in the oven until they're falling off the bone and absolutely delicious and then, at the last minute, I throw them on the grill.”

She uses St. Louis ribs because they have a lot of meat on the bone, but baby back ribs will work too. After a simple shower of salt and pepper, Ina slathers the ribs with her easy, homemade barbecue sauce, covers them loosely with foil and parks them in a 350-degree oven for about 1-¾ hours. The great thing about starting the ribs in the oven is you can grill them right away or refrigerate them until you are ready to finish them on the grill, making them perfect for a summer party.

When she's ready to finish the ribs, Ina heats up the grill and brushes them with more barbecue sauce. She then grills them for five minutes on both sides, just until the barbecue sauce gets sticky and caramelized. After a ten-minute rest, she slices them up and plates them. “This is not a time for like grape leaves and gorgeousness,” said Ina. ”This is a time for really casual, just pile them all up … You can also just serve them on the board, just pick up the whole board and take it to the table.” Serve extra barbecue sauce on the side for dipping. “Once I stopped incinerating ribs on the grill and started roasting them first and then barbecuing them, there's no going back,” said Ina.

Ina’s Five Grilling Tips That Really Work

1. Use a charcoal grill.

"A gas grill might be easy, but a charcoal grill will give you better flavor," said Ina.

2. Charcoal chimney is her secret weapon.

“It's great for starting a fire without lighter fluid,” said Ina.

3. Use natural charcoal briquettes.

“Never the easy-starter ones, that taste and smell of lighter fluid,” warns Ina. “Nobody wants to eat lighter fluid.”

4. Add a second layer of coals for big jobs.

"If you have a lot of food to cook, add a second layer of coals on top of the white-hot coals When the first layer is cool, the second layer will stay hot,” Ina advises.

5. Don't leave Jeffrey in charge of the grill.

“You get flames, but not always where you expect them,” she laughs. Leave him to the coffee, word is he makes a mean cup.

Get more Ina-approved tips and tricks on Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like A Pro.


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