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Holiday & SeasonalRECIPE

Fourth of July Finger-Licking BBQ Ribs

3 hours Cook
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The Fourth of July, a day filled with patriotism, fireworks, and delicious barbecues, is just around the corner. One dish that perfectly embodies the spirit of this holiday is the classic American BBQ ribs. These succulent, finger-licking ribs have a rich history, dating back to the early days of our nation. In this article, we will explore the origins of BBQ ribs, break down the preparation process, and provide tips for grilling the perfect rack of ribs to celebrate Independence Day. So, fire up your grill and let’s get ready to savor some mouthwatering BBQ ribs!

Historical Context: The tradition of barbecuing ribs in America can be traced back to the indigenous peoples who slow-cooked meat over open flames, a method later embraced by European settlers. However, the modern BBQ rib we know and love today has evolved over centuries. In the early 19th century, African American pitmasters in the American South played a significant role in perfecting the art of barbecue, and their techniques and flavors have heavily influenced the way we prepare ribs today.


1. Prepare the Ribs:

  • Begin by removing the thin membrane from the back of the ribs. Use a sharp knife to lift the membrane from one end of the rack and then grip it with a paper towel to pull it off completely. This step ensures tender, flavorful ribs.
  • Rinse the ribs under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

2. Create the Dry Rub:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. This dry rub will infuse the ribs with a delightful blend of flavors.

3. Season the Ribs:

  • Sprinkle the dry rub generously over both sides of the ribs, pressing it into the meat to ensure it adheres. Don’t be afraid to use all the rub; it’s what will give your ribs their incredible flavor.

4. Let the Ribs Rest:

  • Once the ribs are generously seasoned, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat.

5. Prepare the Grill:

  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, light your charcoal and let it burn until the coals are covered with white ash. If using a gas grill, preheat it to medium heat. For added flavor, you can also add soaked wood chips to the charcoal or use a smoker box on a gas grill.

6. Indirect Grilling:

  • For perfectly cooked ribs, you’ll want to use the indirect grilling method. On a charcoal grill, place the coals on one side of the grill and put a drip pan on the other side. On a gas grill, turn off one burner and place the ribs on the unlit side.
  • Maintain a temperature of around 250°F (120°C) inside the grill. You may need to adjust the vents or burners to achieve this temperature.

7. Grill the Ribs:

  • Place the seasoned ribs on the grill grates above the drip pan, bone side down. This positioning prevents direct heat from reaching the meat, ensuring even cooking.
  • Cover the grill and let the ribs cook for about 2.5 to 3 hours. During this time, resist the temptation to lift the lid too often; you want to maintain a consistent cooking temperature.

8. Check for Doneness:

  • After about 2.5 hours, check the ribs’ doneness using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 190-205°F (88-96°C), and the meat should be tender enough to easily pull apart with a fork.

9. Apply BBQ Sauce:

  • During the last 15-30 minutes of cooking, brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce. Be sure to apply multiple coats and allow the sauce to caramelize, creating that irresistible sticky glaze.

10. Rest and Serve: – Once the ribs are done and have developed a beautiful crust, remove them from the grill. Tent them with aluminum foil and let them rest for about 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring juicy, flavorful ribs. – After resting, use a sharp knife to slice the ribs between the bones. Serve them with extra BBQ sauce on the side, along with classic sides like coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread.

Conclusion: With this recipe, you’ll be able to savor the essence of American barbecue tradition right in your backyard this Fourth of July. These finger-licking BBQ ribs, with their roots deep in history, are a testament to the rich culinary heritage of our nation. So, gather your friends and family, fire up the grill, and celebrate Independence Day with a mouthwatering feast that pays homage to the flavors that make America’s BBQ heritage truly exceptional. Happy Fourth of July!


prep time
20 minutes
cooking time
3 hours
total time
3 hours 20 minutes


  • Charcoal or gas grill

  • Charcoal or wood chips (if using a charcoal grill)

  • Aluminum foil

  • Basting brush

  • Tongs

  • Meat thermometer

  • Sharp knife

  • Cutting board

  • Mixing bowl

  • Plastic wrap


  • 2 racks of baby back ribs (approximately 4-5 pounds)

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons paprika

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust for spice preference)

  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (your favorite store-bought or homemade)


Remove membrane and rinse ribs.
Prepare a flavorful dry rub.
Season ribs generously with rub.
Grill using indirect heat.
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