Should I Boil Ribs First?

Boiling ribs or not is a question you’ll encounter sooner or later when you grill. If you’re short on time, boil it. If you want the best taste possible, avoid boiling under any circumstances.

A Time Saver

The main argument in favor of boiling is it lessens the cooking time. Assume you boil the meat for 20 minutes. You only need to add the sauce and grill for another 10 minutes. After that, it’s finished.

If you’re going to feed a lot of people, this is the ideal solution. You’ll be able to cut down on the time needed to cook it.
The other argument is that boiling ribs tenderizes the meat. Grilling it directly isn’t going to soften the meat.

Reduced Flavor

But those against it say boiling will take away all the flavors. If you boil and then grill, all the taste will be lost. An analogy used is with hamburgers. If you don’t boil hamburgers, then it makes no sense to boil this meat either.

Even if you add all the spices and herbs, it won’t return the lost flavors. All those seasonings, herbs and rubbing add to the ribs’ taste. If the natural texture is lost, the seasonings won’t be of much help.

Cooking Slowly and Indirectly

Boiling ribs or grilling straight over the fire isn’t going to tenderize it. Instead you should put the meat away from the fire. You should also add the aluminum pan filled with water underneath it. This should tenderize the meat. Cooking directly over the fire is one of the most common mistakes made by new cooks. Too much heat will produce undesirable results.

The Secret is in the Fats

Another problem with boiling is it removes the fats. The fat is necessary for producing great tasting ribs. It’s the component that makes ribs tender and juicy. Look at steaks: the juiciest ones are those with white fat (collagen).

This same thing keeps ribs tender. By boiling ribs, you’ll remove this essential ingredient. Rather than softening the meat, it will be harder to chew.

Getting rid of the fats by boiling is going to rob the ribs of its juices. This can’t be replaced with seasonings of any kind.

Patience is Necessary

As for the time constraints, it pays to be patient. Ribs don’t come cheap. If you’re going to buy and cook them, why not give the time required to produce the best results? Why buy something juicy and tasteful if it’s going to be wasted anyway?

Boiling means transferring the meat’s flavor into the water. Once that happens, there’s not much left to grill. You might as well make a broth. The preparation and cooking time required is more extensive. But it will pay off in the end. Once you have tasted slow but well cooked ribs, you likely won’t settle for anything less.

In the end, boiling ribs is unnecessary. You lose all the flavor and end up with a tasteless dish. It’s much better to put in the effort to cook the ribs right than settle for a hastily made dish.