AmazingRibs.com is all about the Science of Barbecue, Grilling, and Outdoor Cooking
"I think food is important and if you don't know how to cook, it's tragic." Julia Child
Below are links to some of the best parts of this website. To see everything, click here for a complete table of contents.
If you boil ribs the terrorists win
The backyard kitchen is built on myths. AmazingRibs.com specializes in mythbusting and teaching the fundamental facts you need to know to be a great outdoor cook.
Myth #1: Boil ribs to make them tender
A lot of folks boil their ribs. Don't do it! You wouldn't boil a steak would you? When you boil meat and bones, you make flavorful soup. That's because water is a solvent that pulls much of the flavor out of the meat and bones and makes the meat mushy. Boiling also removes vitamins and minerals. That's why the water is cloudy when you're done. That's flavor in the water. DOH! Taste tests have shown that ribs are most flavorful when roasted. If you are in a hurry, you are better off steaming or microwaving ribs and then finishing them on the grill or under the broiler. Just don't boil 'em if you want max flavor! If you boil ribs the terrorists win.
Myth #2: The best ribs fall off the bone
Barbecue judges agree: Properly roasted ribs are tender but still have some chew, similar to a tender steak. They don't fall off the bone. If they do, chances are they have been boiled. Click here to learn what the experts think Amazing Ribs taste like.
Myth #3: Thermometers are for sissies
I don't care what the TV chef said, you cannot tell anything about the temp of a grill is by holding your hand over the grate and counting "1001, 10002, 1003" until your palm bursts into flame. Each of us reacts differently to heat, and the heat 1" above the grate can be significantly different than 6" above. Maybe an old pro who cooks 100 steaks a night can do this parlor trick, but you cannot.
Likewise, you may have also heard that you can tell the doneness of a steak by poking it and comparing the bounciness of the meat to the tip of your nose or the flesh between your thumb and forefinger. As if everyone's hand has the same firmness and bounciness! As if a filet mignon has the same firmness and bounciness of a sirloin! Lookit, almost all professional chefs carry a meat thermometer in their chef's coat. There's a reason.
Finally, you cannot rely on popup thermometers in turkeys, and most dial thermometers built into grills are waaaaay off, often 50°F, and the temp in the dome is different than the temp on the cooking surface.
Myth # 4: Soak wood before using it
When I soaked wood chunks overnight, they gained about 3% by weight. Chips gained about 6%. I cut the chunks in half and penetration was only about 1/16". DOH! That must be why they make boats out of wood! Wood doesn't absorb much water! If you toss wet wood on a hot grill, the small amount of water just below the surface will evaporate rapidly, negating any effect of soaking. On charcoal, the wet wood cools off the coals when it is important to hold the coals at a steady temp. Learn more about the Science of Wood.
Myth #5: The juices from a steak are blood
If they were blood they would be dark, almost black, like your blood. And they would be thick and coagulate. No, the blood is drained during slaughter. The juices on your plate are a protein rich liquid called myoglobin, so stop grossing out your kids by calling it blood. Click here to read more about meat science.
Myth #6: Always use tongs, never forks
Don't worry about poking holes in the meat. A steak is 70% liquid (much of that myoglobin), so if you poke a hole in a 16 ounce steak and it loses 1/4 ounce of juice, you'll still have more than 9 ounces of fluid left. When you cook, however, you can lose up to 20% from evaporation and dripping. That's more than 3 ounces. Click here for my favorite barbecue and grilling tools and toys.
Myths #7, 8, 9, and beyond:
Here are some more myths explored on these pages or coming soon: Searing seals in juices. Pink pork is undercooked. If there is red in chicken it is undercooked. If you're lookin' you ain't cookin'. Cooking time depends on the weight of the meat. The bone adds flavor. Oil the grates before putting food on them. Flip burgers only once. The Stall is collagen melting. High heat is the best heat. Whole chicken tastes better than chicken cut into parts. Beer can chicken is the best chicken. Melting fat penetrates the meat. Grilling causes cancer. Grill marks are important. Medium and medium rare are the same thing. Stainless steel grills are better. Cast iron grates are the best.
Many more within. You can rely on your grill's built in thermometer. Ground beef is the riskiest food for pathogens. Barbecue sauce is always red. Marinades add a lot of moisture to meat. Start with the Table of Contents.
Some politically incorrect messages from a Meathead:
To single guys
Learn to cook and you will find love because the secret of a great meal isn't what's on the table. It's what's on the chairs.
To married guys
Your wife hates it when you're in her kitchen. Learn to cook outdoors.
To single ladies
To married ladies
You want quality time? Look out back. He's right there. Grab a beer and join him. Teach him to cook. Use this site as a textbook. He can learn. I did.
This site attempts to teach the novice and at the same time be thorough enough for the expert. I try to explain why as well as how, because when you can cook outdoors, you can cook anywhere. And anything you can cook indoors taste better cooked outdoors. Tuck in!
Here's a great trick for thin steaks
The challenge is to get the exterior dark and the interior medium rare. I call it the Afterburner. It only works on skinny steaks, but boy does it work great. Read about it in Extreme Steak.
When are steaks, chops, chicken, fish, and other foods done?
I want my meats tender, juicy, and flavorful, and I also want them safe. The temperature of the meat controls these things. You cannot tell by looking and feeling. You need a good instant-read meat thermometer and a good oven thermometer. Nothing will save you from apologizing to your guests and keep you from wasting money as well as good thermometers. Click here for my Buying Guide to Thermometers.
Click here for the definitive clip and save table of meat temps.
The ultimate barbecue turkey on any grill
This is no ordinary turkey preparation, pilgrims. Follow these (excessively) detailed steps and you will never have a dry, stringy, cardboardy, boring bird again. Nor will you ever risk life and limb nor stain the patio while deep frying a turkey again. This will be the best turkey you've ever tasted. Best of all you can do it on a smoker, any old backyard grill, or even indoors (without the smoke). But remember, when you cook the bird outdoors, you not only get great flavor, you free up the oven for all the other dishes.
World's Best Barbecue Buying Guide & Meathead's Hotstuff Awards
For the coolest in tools and toys, check Meathead's Hotstuff Awards. I don't sell anything. I just tell you what works and what doesn't.
An example: The Smokenator. You can easily convert a standard Weber Kettle into a smoker capable of making restaurant quality smoked ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, turkey, or salmon. If you have a Weber, you need a Smokenator. Less than $75.
Before you buy, check out the reviews in our Buying Guide. There is nothing in the world like this section. Just about every backyard grill, smoker, and pig roaster available is listed, and many of them have links to discount suppliers.
There's a section devoted to the best grills, best smokers, best BBQ tools and toys, best BBQ sauces, best thermometers, required kitchen tools, bar necessities, corkscrews, and the book reviews section covers the best references available.
Last Meal Ribs
Cut to the chase: Here's how to make the best ribs you've ever tasted.
There's classic side dishes here, including the best baked beans you've ever tasted (with Bourbon), several classic slaw recipes, real lemonade, cheesy grits, blue cheese potatoes, and potato pancakes.
All kinds of barbecue recipes
Occasionally I hanker for something other than ribs. Check out my recipes for Perfect Pulled Pork and Texas Brisket, Lamb Loin Chops, the Classic Chicago Hot Dog, Italian Beef Sangwitches, Korean Kalbi: Grilled Beef Ribs, a dozen BBQ Sauce recipes, real Grilled French Toast, the Ultimate Smoked Turkey, Schmancy Smoked Salmon, all the classic Cole Slaws, Potato Salads, Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans, Soused Apple Slices, Caramelized Onion Pizza on the grill, Jalapeño Poppers, and as they say on the commercials, much much more!
Finally you can master brisket
Here's what Barry Sorkin of Smoque Restaurant in Chicago says: "Great article on brisket. That's a better explanation than I've seen in any of the cookbooks, and I've read a lot of them. It does a great job of making one of the most complex and difficult cuts of meat simple and approachable. My only concern is that if everyone learns how to make brisket, how's a poor schmuck like me going to make a living?!?!"
Huge hot dog section
More than 25 articles (!) on the best ways to cook hot dogs, buns, chili sauce, recipes for the regional styles (Chicago, NY, Detroit, Cincinnati, West Virginia and more), and a hot dog road trip! Click here for everything you need to know about hot dogs.
Huge hamburger section
Take a tour of all the regional hamburger styles, the secrets of killer steakhouse steak burgers, the secrets of crispy diner burgers, the science of buns, burger condiments and secret sauce, recipes for specialties like the New Mexico Chile Cheeseburger, and more.
Huge pizza section
You can get that fabulous wood-fired grill flavor in your own back yard. It's a bit tricky, but once you master grilling pizza you'll never be able to order delivery again. Start with a great all purpose pizza crust for the grill and just for kicks, take a tour of all the world's great pizza styles.
How to Grill Great Steakhouse Steaks
Steaks are easy. Hard to mess up. Regardless of what cut you cook, there are some basic tips and techniques that can raise your game, and when you master them, you will have your guests reeling in deliria.
In this all new article, in my typically exhaustive style, we focus on the best cuts, the best grades, thickness, prep, cooking method, testing for doneness, serving, accompaniments, and much more. Click here to learn the secrets of great steakhouse steaks.
Ribeyes. Just typing the word makes my keyboard cower in fear of drool. Ribeyes are, in my humble opinion, the best steaks on the steer. And Chef Jamie Purviance agrees. Jamie is the well known author of several cookbooks, most recently the New York Times bestseller, Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling.
Jamie and I got together last month with two identical Weber Kettle charcoal grills to answer the kind of question that keeps steak lovers like us up all night: When is the best time to sear a steak, when you start cooking, or at the end of the cook? Believe it or not, when you sear the steak makes a huge difference in flavor, texture, and juiciness.
Dueling grills, dueling ribeyes cut from the same roast side-by-side. May the best steak win. Completely unrehearsed, watch the video and see what happened.
Santa Maria Tri-Tip Steaks
Originally settled by Mexican cowboys called vaqueros, Santa Maria, on California's beautiful Central Coast, has an international reputation for their local specialty, tri-tip steak, the unique grill they invented to cook it, and the clever way they carve it to make it tender. Click here to learn about buying and cooking tri-tip steaks.
Tips & Techniques for Amazing Barbecue
Here's where you can find the science of barbecue. Techniques teaches you about the different cuts of ribs, what happens to meat as you cook it, the thermodynamics of cooking, the best meat temperature guide, when to add the sauce, how to tell when the ribs are ready, all about wood, all about charcoal, how to skin 'n trim a slab, a glossary of barbecue terminology, a handy dandy cooking log, the secrets of the Texas Crutch, and much more.
Best charcoal barbecue grill setup
Don't do it the way Weber tells you to do it. Click here to see how to do it right.
Best gas grill setup
The secret is in a pan of water between the meat and the heat.
Hot food, drink, cooking, barbecue, and rib links
There are so many great resources on the internet: Associations, competitions, message boards, podcasts, blogs, and more. Just click here.
You can kick most barbecue restaurants in the ribs
The best news is that you can make better ribs at home than any restaurant, even the hallowed temples of barbecue such as Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, Rendezvous in Memphis, and Kreuz Market in Lockhart Texas.
Most of these restaurants make hundreds of slabs, cooking them for 4-6 hours overnight or in the morning, and by the time you order them, they have been sitting in the holding oven for hours and are overcooked. Yes, the texture and flavor are fabulous, but you can do better at home simply by getting the timing down and delivering perfectly cooked ribs to your dining table better than any restaurant in the world!
The one requirement of all my recipes: When you're done, you must lick your fingers, leave a plate of bare bones, and exclaim "Amazing Ribs!"
My Meat Temperature Magnet has won first prize, Best New Barbecue Tool !!!
The prize for "Best BBQ Tool" at the 2012 The National Barbecue Association conference did not go to a fancy grilling gadget. It was a simple inexpensive, indispensable, refrigerator magnet by Yours Truly. Hey, I've always known I was a tool, now I'm the best tool!
The AmazingRibs.com Meat Temperature Magnet is a comprehensive guide to meat temperatures. Click the red link for ordering info and a detailed explanation of meat temps.
It includes the latest USDA recommendations as well as chef recommendations (and they often differ) as well as color photos of the different stages of doneness for red meats. Designed for grillers' quick reference, the temperatures are the same for both indoor and outdoor cooks.
Most cookbooks contain outdated meat temperature info since the USDA has changed its recommendations several times. Knowing the best temps is essential to cooking safe and great food. The Center for Disease Control estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from foodborne illnesses, (often mistakenly called "stomach flu,"), and 3,000 die. And nobody knows how many millions of dollars were wasted on overcooked food.
"Meathead converted me after 30 years of poking my meat with my finger and throwing out a lot of overcooked steaks," laughs Brad Barrett, manufacturer of GrillGrate, an innovative cooking surface for grills. "I was so impressed by the guide on his website that I converted it to a magnet and got exclusive rights to sell it." Barrett offers it for $5.99 on Amazon.
Cooking without a thermometer is like driving without a speedometer. A good temperature guide like this and a good digital thermometer are essential for every cook, especially backyard cooks.
Hogwild for barbecue
"An amazing compendium of barbecue knowledge."Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin
Meathead is the best writer covering this part of the culinary world. We're really lucky to have him in our community because he has become a soothsayer. If there's a BBQ Mt. Rushmore, his face ought to be on it. To have such muscular prose is better than we deserve. I call him The Elephant with the Big Tusks.John Markus, Producer, BBQ Pitmasters TV show
You are the Alton Brown of Que.Joe Mizrahi, Smokin' Joe's, NYC
We've won five Grand Championships and two Reserve Championships [second place] in the past three months. Learned much about BBQ from you and wanted to give you credit. Your site has loads of objective info and it has helped me greatly. You have put it together in one convenient spot.Harry Soo, SlapYoDaddyBBQ.com
This is my new go-to method for prime rib.Candy Weaver, President, Kansas City Barbeque Society
I was crowned World Brisket Champion at the Jack Daniels World Championships using your Big Bad Beef Rub. Your site has played a pivotal role in my development. As I prepare for the coming season, I look forward to digging deeper for more nuggets. I thank you for publishing such great tool.John Lattuca, WeekendWarriorBBQ, Montreal, Canada
I got first place on my ribs Sunday using your Vermont Maple Glazed Pig Candy recipe!Steve Triplet, Galatia, IL
The Last Meal Ribs really are the best ribs I've ever had. I got a Smokenator for my birthday and had to try this recipe for the inaugural run. While eating them, my wife said, "I've never loved you more than this moment." Truly a win. My young daughters loved them too. Who needs more of an endorsement than this photo.Marcus Milligan
You are changing lives.Garrett Smith, Missoula, MT
Amazingribs.com is the most information packed barbecue site known to man. I can get lost for days and days and never go down the same path twice. The information presented is continually updated, fresh, and topical. The best part for me is, Meathead has a great sense of humor, he doesn't even take himself serious, but you should. To put it bluntly, his site is just what the address says, AMAZING!Pitmaster and BBQ Columnist George Hensler
Well my wife just about jumped through her [rear end]. The ribs were fantastic!Ted DuBose, Perth, Australia
This meal was as memorable as my first sex, only better.Marie Overholt, San Francisco, CA
I adapted your brisket rub recipe this summer and my customers love it (8,000 pounds served in 6 months)! My brisket even won "best beef" in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair in 2010.Chef Larry Vito, BBQ Smokehouse, Sebastapol, CA
The BBQ community is so extremely fortunate to have someone as passionate and articulate as you.Frank Ostini, Chef Winemaker, Hitching Post II Restaurant & Winery, Buellton, CA
I was about to buy a new smoker. After reading your article about setting up a horizontal smoker, I decided to try rehabilitating something the previous owner of my house left in the backyard. Ran a test yesterday and got six hours at 225°F on one basket of lump charcoal and only had 8-10°F variance from end to end. Total investment: $100. I figure I saved at least $500!Coleman Shelton, Calvert City, KY
The Memphis Dust and the pulled pork are excellent! I never would have imagined that I would like anything better than a slab of smoked ribs, but that pulled pork, oh my gosh! I have taken it to a couple of parties and it is always a HIT! I made some two weeks ago and served it with the South Carolina mustard sauce as well as the grownup sauce and let me tell you, I had to dang near run people out of my house!Aswad Johnson
I have always loved cooking ribs but with our new gas grill they were never as good as charcoal. Well that all changed last night when I made the greatest ribs I have ever tasted. My wife wanted to know if I bought them somewhere and then claimed I cooked them myself.Allen Nicley, Mont Alto, PA
In 2012 we had a fantastic season winning two Grand Championships and five Reserve Grand Championships. I always appreciate referring to your site. Thanks.Steve, Grills Gone Wild, IA
We love your beans. My recipe has our guests tooting for a few days; I bet that yours will last a week!!!!Peggy Bohl, Sacramento, CA
I have worked as a professional cook in high end French restaurants for several years, but I had little BBQ experience, so when I hit the internet looking for some info, I was really pleased to find an in depth and expansive site that had all the tips I was looking for. I am also pleased to tell you that I recently took first place in my first rib competition, using a slight variation on your Memphis Dust and a straight use of your Pig Candy recipe!Aaron Ettlin, Portland, OR
I had two ribs and my boyfriend ate the other 3 1/2 pounds. He couldn't stop to talk. He had to bring a box of tissues to the table because these ribs are so good they make him weep. And that's the truth. He tells me that my ribs have deepened his love for me. Well, fine, but I know that just means he wants more ribs:)Nancy J. Mostad, Minnesota
I am in the process of opening a cafe and thought your simple sweet sour slaw is an amazing winner. Tested it tonight. All people could say was "More please!!!"James Murray, Toronto
My wife had gone to the store while I was preparing ribs for the smoker. When she came back our dog was in a hurry to get out of the truck and jumped on her feet. My truck slammed into her Buick totaling it. It knocked the utility room off the foundation causing the brick to fall off the side and back of the house which in turn collapsed a 10' x 30' deck. It crushed my smoker and the gas grill looked like the Titanic going down. While she was on the phone talking to the insurance man I propped the gas grill up using some of the rubble. I remembered your article on cooking ribs on the grill and decided I was going to have ribs no matter what. When my wife came back I was sitting on a broken chair drinking a beer and cooking ribs. The ribs were anything but a disaster thanks to you, I love seeing a woman standing there with her mouth open speechless, What a wonderful day.Myron Robert Mayer, TN
I died laughing at your rib song.Gary Hays, Smithville, TX
I tried your Memphis Dust (on chicken) and it was amazing!Ivan Carabott, Malta
As we were watching our Giants beat the Mets, a Famous Dave's commercial came on claiming the best ribs in the world, and my honey just shook his head and said, "nope, it's right here." Many, many thanks!Red Taylor, San Francisco, CA
No question, just wanted to say yours is one of my go-to websites for cooking. I cooked professionally for many years, including a 3-year chef's apprenticeship at 4-star classic French kitchen in Dallas.David White, Rockwall, TX
You are, to the barbecue world, what "Click & the Clack: The Tappet Brothers" are to the car world: knowledgeable, smart, hilarious, and self-effacing.Laurel Stone
I have found your site to be the Rosetta Stone of BBQ. From here you can make anything, or you can obtain the tools and information to BBQ/Grill/Smoke. Thanks!Bill Lamb