How to Make St. Louis Style Ribs

4.86 from 41 votes

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These St. Louis Style Ribs are dry rubbed in a spicy, salty combination of toasted spices, slathered with mustard, and can be cooked either in your oven or on your grill. The apple mop sauce guarantees moist, juicy St Louis ribs!

grilled st louis ribs on white marble


St. Louis Style Ribs are tender and moist. They’re fatty and full of flavor, and actually very easy to grill! With the right rub and the right technique, the meat will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth.

Use your favorite BBQ sauce for basting and serving. Having a hard time deciding? Check out any of my homemade BBQ sauces:

There’s a lot that goes into making St. Louis style ribs, so let’s get right into it! Be sure to see the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and additional tips on how to make an absolutely flawless grilled rib.

St. Louis Style Ribs ready to eat

INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS 

  • St Louis Ribs – A fatty, rectangular cut. These are essentially trimmed down spareribs.
  • Yellow Mustard – To flavor, tenderize, and help the dry rub stick to the meat.
  • Apple Juice – To use as a mop sauce. Use apple cider vinegar for a less sweet option.
  • Fennel, Cumin, & Coriander Seeds – If using powdered rather than the whole seeds, use ½ tsp less of each.
  • Brown Sugar – If preferred, you can replace with honey or maple syrup.
  • Smoked Paprika – For a bit of smoky heat. Be sure to use smoked paprika, not sweet paprika.
  • Onion & Garlic Powder – It’s best to use powdered, rather than fresh onions and garlic, so that the flavor spreads evenly.
  • Dried Oregano – Thyme, parsley, or even Italian seasoning would work instead.
  • Dry Mustard – You could use mustard seeds as a substitute.
  • Ground Cayenne – Strong, hot, and perfect for barbecue. Some great substitutes include red pepper flakes and chili powder.
St. Louis Style Ribs with sauce dripping off them

HOW TO PREP ST. LOUIS STYLE RIBS

  1. Toast the Spices. Add the fennel, coriander, and cumin seeds to a pan and sauté. Once the spices become fragrant and the oils seep out, grind into a powder. 
  2. Make the Dry Rub. Add all of the spices and dry rub ingredients to a bowl and combine with a whisk.
  3. Season the Meat. Slather the mustard over both sides of the meat before dusting meat with the dry rub.
  4. Marinate. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
dry rubbed St. Louis Style Ribs

HOW TO MAKE ST LOUIS RIBS ON THE GRILL

  1. Prep the Grill. Preheat the grill to 350°F and prepare to grill with indirect heat (see the recipe card at the bottom of the page for directions on how to create a 2-Zone indirect heat setup).
  2. Preliminary Grilling. Lay the rack, bone-side down, on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the Mop Sauce. Transfer the meat to a sheet of aluminum foil with the sides folded upward. Pour apple juice over the meat and wrap with additional foil, covering and tucking so that it’s watertight.
  4. Grill at Higher Heat. Increase the grill’s temperature to 375°F and move the wrapped rack back to the grill. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes. 
  5. Baste, Let Rest, & Serve. After 30 minutes have passed, reduce the heat to 250°F. Take the meat out of the foil and return it to the grill. Baste with your choice of BBQ sauce every 5 minutes for 60 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
pouring liquid onto the St. Louis Style Ribs

HOW TO MAKE ST LOUIS RIBS IN THE OVEN

  1. Preliminary Baking. While your oven preheats to 325°F, line your baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the rack, bone-side down, on top. Pop the sheet into the oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the Mop Sauce. Transfer the meat to a sheet of aluminum foil with the sides folded upward. Pour apple juice over the meat and wrap with additional foil, covering and tucking so that it’s watertight.
  3. Bake at HIgher Heat. Increase the oven’s temperature to 375°F and bake the rack for another 30 minutes.
  4. Baste, Let Rest, & Serve. After 30 minutes have passed, reduce the heat to 250°F. Take the meat out of the foil and return it to the oven. Baste with your choice of BBQ sauce every 5 minutes for 60 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

What is the difference between St Louis Ribs and regular ribs? 

Did you know that St. Louis Style Ribs doesn’t refer to a dry rub or BBQ sauce, but the cut of the rib itself.

Did you know that the sparerib comes from the belly area and are typically fatter with more meat on them.

St. Louis style ribs have less meat than your average spare rib, and the cartilage and breastbone having been trimmed away. This makes them flat and uniform in shape with meat that is fatty and full of flavor. 

Comparing babyback ribs to St Louis style ribs
(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Do St. Louis style ribs have a membrane? 

St Louis ribs do come with a membrane, like most spare rib cuts, and it’s always best to remove the membrane before seasoning and cooking. Ask your butcher, or most come removed these days. The membrane is tough and will prevent the interior meat from taking in the rub.

If removing yourself, simply slide a knife beneath the membrane and pull at an angle to remove it from the meat.

closeup of cooked St. Louis Style Ribs

How long should rub be on ribs before cooking? 

You want to apply a dry rub for at least 30 minutes to let the meat absorb the spices and seasonings. You can marinate for up to 8 hours, which is ideal. Dry rubs are a great option for preparing in the morning and grilling later in the afternoon!

How do I know when my St Louis ribs are done?

The internal temperature of the meat should be 195°F and the meat will draw back and expose about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of the rib bone.

ready to serve St. Louis Style Ribs
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This recipe post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking February 2016, has been updated with new content, photos and/or video in June, 2022.

grilled st louis ribs on white marble

How to Make St Louis Style Ribs

4.86 from 41 votes
St. Louis Style Ribs are a soulful Southern treat. They’re tender, juicy, and full of flavor. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauces and sides!
Servings: 6
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 4 lbs St Louis Style Pork Ribs
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple juice (See Note 1)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce of choice

Dry Rub

Instructions 

  • Toast the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds in a sauté pan until fragrant and oils have been released. Grind in a spice grinder until in powder form. Feel free to use ground spices if you prefer, but use a 1/2 tsp LESS of each.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the toasted/ground spices and all the remaining dry rub ingredients. Set aside.
  • Peel membrane off from the back of ribs. Apply mustard on both sides of the ribs. Sprinkle dry rub all over both sides of the ribs.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes minimum (or 8 hours, covered if refrigerated).

Grill Method

  • Preheat gas grill or smoker to 350°F. Grill using indirect heat (See Note 3).
  • Place the rack, bone side down on the grill, close the lid. Let the ribs cook for 30 minutes.
  • Take ribs off grill and place on aluminum foil. Fold up sides, pour apple juice (mop sauce) over and wrap tightly in foil. You want this as watertight as possible after pouring in the apple juice.
  • Place the wrapped ribs back on the grill, close the lid and increase temperature to 375°F for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to 250°F. Unwrap the ribs, remove them from of the foil, and place them back on the grill. Baste with BBQ sauce every 15 minutes for a total of 60 minutes or until the internal temperature is 195°F. Allow to rest 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Oven Baked Method

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the rack, bone side down on the foil lined baking sheet and let the ribs bake for 30 minutes.
  • Take ribs off baking sheet and place on a new sheet of aluminum foil (maybe use 2 sheets of aluminum foil to accommodate ribs). Fold up sides, pour apple juice (mop sauce) over and wrap tightly in the foil. You want this as watertight as possible after pouring in the apple juice.
  • Place the wrapped ribs back on the baking sheet and increase oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to 250°F. Unwrap the ribs, remove them from of the foil, and place them back in the oven. Baste with BBQ sauce every 15 minutes for a total of 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 195°F. Allow to rest 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Notes

  1. I’m using the apple juice as a mop sauce substitute here. For a tarter mop sauce, substitute apple cider vinegar for the apple juice.
  2. If you are not using whole spices, use a 1/2 tsp LESS of each ground spice.
  3. Grill using indirect heat: For gas grill do the 2 Zone set up which is either half the grill is lit to achieve desired temperature and the meat is placed on opposite side, or have sides lit leaving the center NOT on or lowest temperature. To grill using indirect heat on a charcoal BBQ or smoker, ignite charcoal and place it to one side of the grill, creating a space for the food or the center with meat you’re cooking not directly over those lit coals. Typically use a drip pan under the meat to avoid any flareups.
  4. For pork, the accepted finished temperature is 145°F. However, the collagen inside your ribs hasn’t had time to become gelatin for that perfect bite, which happens when the internal temperatures reach 165°F. It’s recommended to continue cooking ribs until they reach an internal temperature of 195°F to 200°F for that fall off the bone goodness.

Nutrition

Calories: 770kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 60g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 223mg | Sodium: 1173mg | Potassium: 1302mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 1670IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 167mg | Iron: 5.2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Southern, Western
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
St. Louis Style Ribs doesn’t necessarily refer to a dry rub or BBQ sauce, but the cut of the rib itself. What we’re looking for are ribs dry rubbed and mopped while grilling or smoking, then basted with a BBQ sauce until lacquered and fall apart tender! Let me show you how.

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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114 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    4 recipes on this page. 2 for in the oven and they are both different and 2 for on the grill and they too are both different. What gives?
    I just made these and although they had a very good flavor, they weren’t fall off the bone.
    I will try this recipe again….
    Thanks…..

    1. Thanks for giving this one a try and the feedback David. I only shared 2 ways to make these though? On the grill and in the oven. It may be written up twice, in the post itself and then in the recipe card. Also, for fall-off-the bone ribs the internal temp should be between 190-200°F which I state?

  2. Hi Kevin I’m trying your rub, but I did leave off fennel! This is my 1st time baking ribs and can’t wait to try them when finished! May I text you how they turned out? Thank you 😊

  3. 5 stars
    I read the note about using a half a tsp less of ground spices if not using whole, after I mixed them all. Used them on my ribs, I trust they’ll still be good. Using apple cider instead of juice. Should be yummy.