How to Tell When Ribs are Done

Ribs are not so easy to cook as they seem to be. And sometimes, even professionals and seasoned chefs can mistake a rib being done or not. The thin layer of skin above the racks could get charred or stay undercooked and to get the right timings is just not easy.

You have to strike a perfect balance to obtain perfectly cooked ribs. But you don’t have to worry about serving under-cooked or overcooked ribs because we are here with all the information you need to know if your ribs are done or not. 

Quick Note:


 The perfect done ribs has also been up for debate for the longest time. While done may mean differently to different people, here we have taken the perfectly done ribs to mean when the fats have rendered and the connective tissue is still tough enough.

Tried, Tested and True Methods to Determine when the Ribs are Done

How to Tell When Ribs are Done

There are a few methods that have been tried and tested over time and can come in handy when you are trying to determine if your ribs are properly cooked or not. We have listed them down below. 

1. The Bend Test

This is one of the oldest and most used methods for testing if the ribs are done or not is the Bend Test method. For this method, you just need to pick up the rack of ribs from the grill using a pair of tongs. Then slightly jiggle or shake it.

Check how easily the meat is breaking or cracking from the rack. The easier the meat cracks, the better ready the ribs are. 

If the crack is not proper or is small, then you can put the rib back on the griller and let it grill for another few minutes. You will get better at this method after a few times.

2. The Toothpick Test

Another method that stands perfect for testing if the BBQ ribs have been done or not is the toothpick test. It is not only the easiest but it is also tried and tested. You just need to take a clean toothpick and poke it in the ribs.

If the toothpick slides in easily without any major resistance, that is an indication that the ribs are done. But before being too sure, poke different areas in the ribs to be sure. Different areas sometimes require different time to get done. 

3. The Time Test

You can use this method if you want to go with more professional ways of cooking. The time and temperature method can also help you ascertain if the ribs are properly done or not. The ribs need to be cooked at 225 degree F on your grill. If these are baby back ribs, then you need to cook for 3 to 4 hours. If you are making St. Louis ribs, then it’ll take slightly longer- 5 to 6 hours. If you don't have a meat temperature, then go check out this article on best wireless meat thermometers

But your ribs are not ready yet. After the initial cooking, you need to drizzle BBQ sauce on top of the rack and heat on high for another 10 minutes so that the ribs can absorb the flavors and the outside texture is obtained. 

However, this method is not very reliable because it depends on a lot of factors. For example, different meat types take different amounts of time to cook. 

4. The Taste Test

The Taste Test is one of our favorite picks because it lets you taste the delicious smelling ribs while you are waiting for the main meal. You can just scrap a small chunk of the meat from the ribs and taste it to see if it’s properly done or not.

The only downside to this is that you might end up eating undercooked or raw meat. But other than that, it is the most preferred and hassle free way.

5. The Pop-up Test

This is more for the professional chefs or experts out there. They claim that checking the skin pulling up the bone which it’s clinging to is a good way to determine if the ribs are done or not.

The ideal parameters are if the meat has pulled up one quarter of an inch then that means that the ribs are ready. This method does not require you to disturb or poke the meat while it’s cooking. 

But on the downside, this is an unreliable process. Meat tends to shrink at higher temperatures even when the insides aren’t done properly. Similarly, if you are cooking on low flame, the skin might not recede till much later which means that the ribs are overcooked.

6. The Peek-a-Boo Test

This is another method that can help you test visually. For this, you need to keep peeking at the ribs while they are being done. And when you think they are almost ready, you cut it with a knife and check for doneness.

While checking, ensuring that there is a fine white line forming at the edges. And there should be no pink spots on the ribs. The meat near the center should be tan or white. 

The downside here is that once you cut into the ribs, the meat is exposed and might burn if you are cooking again. But if you cover the ribs with an aluminum foil, then the exposure of the flesh may not be a problem. 

7. The Twist Test

Another simple way to test if the meat is done or not is to cut one piece of the rib and twist it from the bone by holding the center. If the meat falls off easily, that ensures that the ribs are done.

The more easily the meat falls off, the better those ribs are done. You can add the tested rib piece back on the grill once you have checked it. 

So don’t ruin your barbeque ribs by undercooked or overcooked ribs. Try out these methods for more surety and deliciously done ribs. And if you have a method of your own, let us know in the comment section below.

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