I was thinking about doing it as a time saving device - any recommendations?

  • How are you grilling them? High heat? Low and Slow? How long does it take to cook them on the grill?
    – yossarian
    Aug 10, 2010 at 13:16
  • For grilling usually I like to take a few hours: 2-3
    – AttilaNYC
    Aug 10, 2010 at 16:38

14 Answers 14


I can kind of go either way on this. I like to cook my ribs low and slow with smoke, which takes a couple of hours. However, I'm not sure that par-boiling will really improve this cooking time. So I'd say no for low and slow technique.

My mother boils her ribs first and then grills them. In this case, they cook in the liquid and really just finish on the grill. She puts the ribs in a shallow pan, puts some liquid in, covers in foil, and throws them in the oven. I think she does about two hours in the oven (a quick google suggests about 275). Then it only takes 15 mins or so to finish on the grill. This makes tending quite a lot easier. You can boil them ahead of time and hold in the refrigerator. It also allows you to introduce some more interesting liquids for the boiling (beer, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper).

Par-boiling for 10-15 minutes and then grilling will help reduce some of the fat in the ribs. It will also help make them "fall of the bone" if you're grilling at higher heats. However, I don't think that 10 minutes is going to substantially affect your cooking time. I could be wrong though, as this method falls dead in between the two methods I'm familiar with.

  • Love the "interesting liquids" idea. Always fun to experiment in the kitchen. Aug 10, 2010 at 14:50

It probably will save some time, but I tend to think that boiling meat makes for a rather bland, ropey final product (collagen dissolves from the meat, leaving it stingy rather than juicy).

I would suggest just baking them beforehand. You can bake them (low heat, wrapped in foil) days before you intend to serve them and keep them in the refrigerator. Finish as normal (either on a grill or under high heat in the oven).

  • This is what my dad does, he bakes them low and slow, then finishes them on the grill. I've never had ribs that compared to his when he uses this method. Aug 10, 2010 at 14:38

Our family recipe calls for the ribs to be boiled for an hour before being broiled. The ribs are boiled with a few onions, salt and pepper, and then a sauce is applied for broiling. This does significantly cut down on cook time, and also doesn't require the oven to be on as long and results in tender meat.

That being said, Slow cooking ribs does result in tastier ribs. The boil and broil method is best used in colder weather and don't want to cook low for the required number of hours.


When you boil ribs, the terrorists win.

The whole point of the slow cooking process is to break down the collagen in the connective tissue into gelatin which creates that unctuous mouthfeel that great bbq is known for. By boiling it, you're causing the proteins in the collagen to seize and toughen. The meat may be more tender but that's not what you're ultimately after in great bbq ribs.

  • 5
    "Seize and toughen"? Nonsense. Boiling also breaks down the collagen and gives the unctuous feel, and I don't see why it would toughen the protein more than e.g. baking, which will almost certainly be at a higher temperature than boiling water even if you "slow cook". Adam Shiemke's argument about the collagen dissolving out might possibly be correct, on the other hand, though personally I've not noticed this problem.
    – PaulS
    Aug 12, 2010 at 21:10

Boiling any meat, period, before grilling results in lower flavor quality. Who cares if it's fall off the bone if it taste like cardboard? When you boil all the flavor is cooked off into the water. You could make some tasty rib soup afterwords but anything other than that is going to be low quality bbq. Do the right thing, low and slow, and you can have tasty fall off the bone ribs. Never ever boil any meat under any cercumstances unless you are making soup, stew, chilli, or some other varient. Unless of course you like sub par bbq.


You are not supposed to boil the flavor out. You are supposed to boil the flavor in. Use herbs, spices, etc. I experiment with different flavors all the time. I could make my ribs taste like Filipino Adobo, lemon grass, spicy, gingery, sweet, peppery, rosemary, orange, lemony. Salt is not the only flavoring guys, which I only use very little of in anything I cook.

Boil ribs about 3/4 hr in your choice of flavoring. This will add a hint of flavoring. Cook on grill , indirect heat or with cover on with your choice of smoking wood for about 3/4 hr. I use apple wood from my apple tree. You don't need a smoker , just move the coals to one side or cover the so it stops burning to smoke. I also use 2 old clay Kamado BBQ I block all the air out after coal gets hot. Mild smokey flavor is best. Avoid making your pork taste like the pig got trapped in a burning home or forest. Finish off in oven with BBQ sauce on low heat until tender. My family and friends enjoy the layers of flavor, fall off the bone juicy tender ribs.


My mom taught me to parboil with plenty of seasonings in the water as well as some vinegar onions, peppers and garlic. Then we would put them under the broiler and smother them in sauce. I guess since that's what I grew up with I never really liked "real" bbq. At least when it comes to ribs that is. I'm hosting a cookout for Father's day in the park this weekend. I may just do the same and save myself some time.

  • 2
    Can you explain why you parboil them? The question was about whether or not it's a good idea - have you tried both ways, to see if it's actually helping you or not?
    – Cascabel
    Jun 11, 2013 at 23:24

I believe a short, hot, dip. Will heat up any bone in the meat enough to contribute more flavor. But always let your ribs rest...par boiling, when done right, can be a time saver, but you must compensate with deep flavor.


I par boil, cause it is easy and the wife LOVES it! However, there is no doubt that smoking produces the most tasty ribs....

Smoking requires a bit of equipment and a lot of time...wish I had both..

my 0.02


If you like bland and stringy fast, parboil them. If you like flavorful,tender, melt in your mouth ribs, never parboil the ribs.


My ribs melt in your mouth and I par boil, but only 15 minutes then I slow cook on grill with lid down 7 minutes on one side add 7 on other then cover in sweet honey molasses Jc masterpiece wonderful pan with tinfoil to and bottom keep on grill with lid down till time to serve


I've been parboiling my ribs for years as my Dad did before me. It shortens grill time and makes them fall off the bone. I cut my ribs into manageable short racks, add just enough water to cover them, add salt, pepper, paprika, onions, a bit of celery (chopped fine) and bay leaf. I may add other spices as the mood hits. I slow boil for about an hour, or till the meat is tender, but not falling off the bone. I then take some of the boiling liquid and use this for a base to my BBQ sauce. I add various ingredients to my sauce pot and cook it down till thick and tangy. Then I place my ribs on the grill brush with sauce, flip, brush, flip making sure the sauce soakes and grills into, the meaty flesh. When the meat is ready to fall off the bone I give them a final brush and enjoy, Tender and flavorful to the bone.


You want to sous vide your ribs instead of boiling them...


Low boil, turn burner off and remove as soon as hard boil starts. Leave covered 50 minutes, then grill. Try the same method for chicken quarters...and the grill does not flare all to heaven's height because much of the fat is in the boil.

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