How to get fall off the bone ribs on a kettle?

I have gotten pretty good with smoking a pork butt on my kettle, but I can never seem to get ribs to "fall off the bone". Can you guys share your secrets?
I've got plenty of rub recipes and am good with controlling my temps. Just haven't quite mastered ribs yet. I've cooked them entirely on the kettle, but know putting them in the oven could/would help.
 

Brad Olson

TVWBB Wizard
How are they otherwise? Are they tender with just a slight bite resistance and without being soft or mushy? Does it require just a little tug to get the meat off the bone? Are you removing the membrane before cooking? Because if all these things are true it sounds like your ribs are already just fine.

Otherwise, if you really want them to FOTB, just cook them longer to completely break down any connective tissue. You could also steam/simmer them prior to cooking, but you didn't hear that from me.
 
How are they otherwise? Are they tender with just a slight bite resistance and without being soft or mushy? Does it require just a little tug to get the meat off the bone? Are you removing the membrane before cooking? Because if all these things are true it sounds like your ribs are already just fine.

Otherwise, if you really want them to FOTB, just cook them longer to completely break down any connective tissue. You could also steam/simmer them prior to cooking, but you didn't hear that from me.
Lots of resistance. They taste good but my wife, for example, eats them with a fork and knife. It takes quite a bit of tugging to get two ribs apart from each other.

I haven’t tried removing membrane. I’ll give that a try next time. And sounds like I need to just keep cooking low and slow for a longer period
 

DustinW

New member
Yup. you nailed it. cook longer. I remove from the grill when they start to break about half way when picking up with tongs. I cook my ribs on the wsm now, but before that is was on the kettle. The kettle cooks faster but still delivered great ribs. 3-4 hours for baby backs on the kettle for me with 50% intake position and 50% exhaust position. charcoal baskets on each side and the ribs in the middle
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
Hi Kyle. Just in case you haven't seen it, I'll share this link from the Cooking Topics section under the Pork heading: https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/cooking-topics/#pork

I think that is the "beginning" link that leads to several others. For instance, if from there you navigate to https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/baby-back-ribs-dry/ it leads to others that, if reviewed, offers several informative articles. Those other links can be found under More Pork Rib Links on TVWB at the bottom of the page. The preparation topic is a good resource, for instance. I don't know if any of them specifically share a cooking experience utilizing a Kettle but I enjoyed reading them for the value they brought on discussions such as prepping, the cooking process, determining doneness, rubs, etc. Good luck!
 
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Bob Walters

TVWBB Member
I"m not sure why "fall off the bone" should be a goal. My rib recipe is simple. Remove the membrane and give a light dusting with Tony Chachere's green can seasoning and a slightly heavier dusting of smoked paprika. I usually cook for about 4.5 hours at 250F or 3.5 hours at 300F if I get a late start. I baste three or four times with a squirt bottle containing mostly vinegar with a bit of oil and some Worcestershire sauce. I turn them twice usually. I slather some red commercial BBQ sauce on during the last 30 or 40 minutes and depending on how they look, I may crank the heat way up for the last 20 minutes.

My goal is to have ribs that are tender enough so that the slab will break in half if you pick it up by one end but not "fall off the bone". After all, I'm not trying to make pork baby food.

By the way, I've found that the key to enjoying ribs is to purchase the best pork you can find/afford. There is a HUGE difference between the pork I buy at my local up-scale butcher shop compared with cheaper ribs sold at Wally World or Costco. If you start with a so-so slab of ribs, it doesn't matter how you cook them, the end result will be so-so ribs. It ain't worth it. I'd rather eat some perfectly fried Spam than lovingly cooked bargain basement ribs that taste kind of funky.
 

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Thanks for the suggestions guys! Guess I'm not really looking for the meat to literally fall off the bone. But really I'd l like to be able pull the rib bones apart without having to use a knife.

I'll give all these suggestions a try, thanks again 🍻
 

Lew Newby

TVWBB All-Star
You’re not cooking them long enough. My wife wants her ribs fall off the bone and foiling them for an hour with some apple juice is how I get that. Happy wife happy life. I use Sams Club ribs and my family says they taste great.
 
Wrapping in foil for an hour near the end will do wonders. Then unwrap and let them dry out a bit, maybe with a little sauce added.

Fall off the bone is often frowned on, but if I cook for the neighborhood crowd I foil and get them there. That is what they love.
 

Bruno

TVWBB All-Star
Remove the membrane and do the 3-2-1 for spares or 2-2-1 for baby backs. There are a million ways to do it but throw some butter and apple juice in the foil and you have great chance at some delicious ribs.
 

Matthew Turner

New member
For fall off the bone, think smoke + braise. There are certainly other methods but a braise will work every time. The 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 are great places to start. Be prepared, however, to extend the second phase (the braise) as long as required to get the ribs to the consistency you want.

FWIW, if my wife asked for fall-off-the-bone ribs, I'd just make them in the oven. Thankfully, she has taken quite well to competition style ribs.
 
Giving ribs another try today on my newly acquired 26” kettle. Going to try 3 hours around 250, then wrap in foil for another couple hours...staying with apple juice every so often
 
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Wrapped them in foil after 3 hours. Also sprayed some apple sauce on them before wrapping. Going to give them two hours inside the foil, then hopefully they'll be ready to eat.
 
So 3 hours unwrapped and 3 hours wrapped definitely got me in the ballpark of where I want to be, but I think I dried them out a little or maybe I didn't spray them with apple juice often enough.

My best ribs yet, appreciate all the advice
 

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