Cooking the perfect set of barbecue ribs is an art, and even seasoned barbecue professionals struggle to cook ribs to perfection. If you’re worried about serving guests under-cooked and chewy ribs and want to know how to tell if ribs are done, you’ve come to the right place. We will share our top three techniques for checking whether ribs are done and ready to eat. You won’t have any problems cooking barbecue ribs ever again and can ensure your guests eat juicy and succulent ribs.
We will also share some general tips on the cooking time for ribs and how you can ensure that you don’t over-cook or burn your ribs. So, let’s jump right into the thick of the action and tell you everything you need to know regarding how to tell if your ribs are done.
What Does “Done” Mean, When it Comes to Ribs?
When people talk about their ribs being “done,” it means that they are “ready to eat,” which roughly translates into succulent, tasty, and tender meat. However, if you go by the guidelines of cooking ribs till they are done or safe to eat, you will end up with tough and chewy meat that you won’t enjoy. To get the best results, you should cook your ribs at a temperature around 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.
These higher temperatures ensure that the collagen in the connective tissue breaks down into gelatin and will also melt the fat, ensuring you have succulent and tender meat. Even though your ribs will be edible hours earlier, they won’t be done or cooked to perfection for several hours later.
Why “Fall off the Bone” isn’t Always a Good Thing
If you’re new to grilling, you may assume that the best way to check whether the ribs are done is to check if the meat “falls off the bone” from the ribs. That isn’t the best way to check if your ribs are done because ribs that fall off the bone have been generally boiled or steamed. That gives them a soggy and mushy texture and means they will have less flavor in the meat.
When cooking ribs, you want to get succulent and tender meat, and the meat should fall apart with a slight tug on the bone. It should be like the texture of a prime steak that is bursting with flavor and melts in your mouth but with enough texture to be satisfying. Your ribs should taste like that when they have been cooked to perfection and are done.
Tried and Trusted Methods for Checking Your Ribs Are Done
How do you tell that your ribs are ready to eat and cooked to perfection? There are several ways you can check whether the ribs are done. These include:
1. The Bend Test
The bend test is also known as the “bounce test” and is one of the best ways to tell if the ribs are done. All you need to do is pick up your ribs with the grill tongs from the middle of the slab. Then drop them to bounce them slightly on the grill and keep a close eye on whether the meat surface starts cracking. Ideally, when you lift your slab, the meat should feel as if it is near to breaking, and when you test it by bouncing it, the surface should have cracks. If there’s no discernible difference and there is only a small crack on the meat surface, you should give the ribs a bit longer to cook.
The bend test’s goal is that when the ribs are done, the connective tissues will break down, which would leave only the skin holding the slab together. When you bounce the ribs on the grill, it will break the skin, and the meat will crack. You will need to get some practice to properly do the bounce test right.
2. The Twist Test
The twist test is similar to the bend test because it is also used to verify whether there has been a breakdown of connective tissues and that the ribs are cooked to perfection. You should remove the ribs from the grill, ensuring that you don’t burn yourself and hold the bone tips that are exposed from the middle of the slab. Then you should twist this bone, and if the ribs are done, the bone will start coming off from the meat.
Remember, that you don’t want to be too vigorous when twisting the bone; otherwise, the ribs won’t cook properly. Make sure that you gently twist and feel the meat coming apart and falling off from the bone. The connective tissues are going to turn soft when your ribs are done, which will mean that the bone removes from the meat with a gentle twist.
3. The Toothpick Test
You should adopt the toothpick test if you want to get a good sense of whether the ribs are done completely in the rack. The test will require some practice, which is why you should use it in combination with the other tests we have mentioned above. The best part about this toothpick test is that it is simple to perform, as all you need to do is slide a toothpick into the meat-filled part of the rack.
You will know that the rack is done if the toothpick slides easily into the meat. Ensure that you test out meat in different sections of the rack to check that the entire rack has been cooked to perfection, just the way you wanted it.
Our Final Thoughts
Don’t ruin your barbecue with overcooked or undercooked ribs. You should evaluate your ribs by cooking them at a temperature around 220-225 degrees and check if they are done using the testing methods we have shared above. If you follow our tips, you should have the confidence and knowledge that you need to cook mouth-watering ribs that are done to perfection.