How to Smoke Ribs on a Gas Grill: A Step-by-Step Guide

Smoke Ribs on a Gas Grill

Gas grills are a whole lot of fun.

Whether you’re using a 3-burn gas grill or a simpler 2-burner option, the joys of lighting the fire up in seconds are almost indescribable. But if it’s your first time owning a gas grill, you may be wondering if you can smoke ribs on it.

The answer is yes, smoking ribs on a gas grill is fun, convenient, and gives off an amazing flavor. And in this guide, we’ll be explaining how to smoke ribs on a gas grill in detail, so you won’t have a hard time lighting it up yourself.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about smoking ribs on a gas grill: from choosing the right cuts to starting the fire.

Before You Start – You Need to Buy Good Ribs

Good Ribs

While you may be excited to start smoking the ribs on your brand new gas grill, it’s important not to rush into it. Before preparing your marinate, buying wood chips, and lighting the grill, you first need to find the right type of ribs for the job.

Remember, gas grills work differently and heat up in a unique way. So, the type of ribs you choose to smoke will play a big impact on the final flavor and texture. And to help you figure out which option would be the best match for your smoker, let’s take a close look at the different cuts.

Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are highly recommended for beginner pitmasters or those who want an easier time smoking their ribs in general. The reason for this is that the baby back ribs are cut from high up on the animal without the loin muscle attached. This makes the ribs very lean with a whole lot of meat and barely any cartilage.

The only disadvantage of baby back ribs is the lack of fat. There are some people who prefer smoking fattier cuts of meat, and if you fall into this category, there are other rib options available for you.

With that said, baby back ribs are a bit smaller than spare ribs or country-style ribs, which means they are much more manageable. On top of that, they are such a classic cut that will taste great no matter the marinade or cooking method!

Spare Ribs

Spare ribs are another great option for people trying out smoking on a gas grill. The reason for this is that they are cut from a bit lower on the animal, much closer to the belly. As a result, they have a whole lot more fat than other options. However, the disadvantage is that they lack the meat content of baby back ribs.

The reason pitmasters love smoking spare ribs on a gas grill is the high-fat content. The fat gives the ribs a lot more flavor, so if you’re looking to feed an entire party, this is a great option for you. Additionally, these ribs are very soft if smoked properly, which can further enhance the experience.

The variation to spare ribs are St. Louis Style ribs. These are cut from the same area. However, butchers get this meat a bit lower than regular spare ribs, which makes them more aesthetically pleasing. While they possess the same flavor, St Louis style ribs allow you more freedom when it comes to presentation.

Country Style Ribs

The last option for the gas grill is country-style ribs. These ribs aren’t even ribs. Butchers get this cut very close to the shoulder, which is why they resemble pork chops more than they do traditional rib cuts. With that said, this cut has a lot of meat without too much cartilage, so they are fairly similar to baby back ribs.

With that said, these are boneless ribs which makes them a very attractive option. With that said, cooking this meat on a gas grill is pretty different from the other rib cuts. Since Country-Style ribs have a lower fat content, it’s best to cook them at a higher heat for a shorter period of time.

This is how you can get the best texture out of the ribs, and is also the reason we recommend trying out country-style ribs after smoking spare and baby back ribs on the gas grill first.

How To Smoke Ribs on a Gas Grill: Step by Step Instructions

beef hamburger and pork ribs BBQ on a gas grill

Now that we’ve discussed the different types of ribs to put on a gas grill, we’re going to check out how to cook these ribs. Any of the options discussed above would be great for your gas grill, but again, if it’s your first time, baby back ribs and spare ribs will give you an easier time.

Additionally, depending on the size and cut of your ribs, you may need to make adjustments to the method. However, these are the general steps you have to take if you want to effectively smoke ribs on a gas grill:

Step 1: Preparing the Rub

First and foremost, you need to make sure that the ribs taste good. To do this, you need to make a good rub. Everyone has their own recipes for rubs and marinades, so we recommend doing the research and trying out small batches of different recipes until you find the one you want.

Better yet, you can even create your own rub. If you have experience with flavors, you can easily determine what spices and flavors to add to the meat. The beauty of ribs is that they go well with both traditional marinades and dry rubs. In fact, if you’re in a jif, you can get store-bought and ready-made jars of rubs for ribs.

Again, it’s important to develop your own flavor palette when formulating your rub. The types of spices you put in your rub is completely up to you. So, try to figure out what types of tastes you want to experience when you eat the ribs before heading to the kitchen.

With that said, regardless of whether you used a dry rub or marinade, make sure to give the flavors time to get to know each other. Ideally, you want to let the flavors soak for at least a couple of hours before lighting up the girll. And if you can, you may even let the meat soak the flavors for up to a whole day.

Step 2: Prepare the Wood Chips

Once you’ve got your ribs marinading and soaking up the flavors, you can start preparing the grill. To do this, you need the right type of wood chips. Remember, different wood chips impart their own unique flavors. So, make sure to get your creative juices flowing when choosing the wood chips for your dish.

In fact, you can even mix and match different types of wood if you want. That way, you can really tailor the flavors to your and your guests’ liking. And when in doubt, we recommend sticking to the classics like Oak, Apple, and Hickory. Just remember to only use hardwoods for smoking meat in a gas grill as soft woods will give you a hard time.

Additionally, you may want to soak the chips in beer or water before smoking. This gives it an additional layer of flavor while also making the wood more smokey, which is what you want when using a gas grill.

And when using a gas grill, you can’t put the wood directly on the flame. Since this will cause the wood to burn and get very hot, you don’t want this when smoking ribs. Instead, we recommend getting a smoker box that you can put in the gas grill to keep the wood chips at the best temperature possible.

Step 3: Lighting the Grill

Once the wood is in the smoker box, all you have to do is start smoking! To start, you need to light up the burners as you usually would then place the smoker box on top. Make sure to get a good smoker box as you have to put the heat on the highest setting. If you have a poorly-made model, the smoker box could start burning.

From there, you have to wait for the wood to start smoking. As much as you may want to speed up the process, we have to stress that patience is a virtue in this context. Since the wood isn’t in direct contact with the heat, it will naturally take longer to heat up. Do not try to get the wood smoking by setting it on fire as that’s not the proper way of smoking ribs on a gas grill.

After the smoker box starts smoking, you can place the ribs on the rack. For the best results, we recommend using a rib rack as this will help the meat cook evenly and absorb the most flavor possible from the smoke. When you place the grips on the grill, make sure to reduce the heat on the burners to medium to prevent it from burining.

Step 4: Waiting

Placing the meat in the smoker is the end of the easy part of the process. In our experience, we’ve found that waiting for a large chunk of meat to cook is the most excruciating aspect of the process. To give your meat the best texture, it’s best to go low and slow, keeping the temperature of the smoker between 235-250 degrees Fahrenheit.

The point of smoking ribs is to cook it indirectly, so raising the temperature defeats the purpose.

The time it takes for ribs to cook in the smoker varies on a number of factors. The temperature of your grill, the weather conditions, and the size of the meat each play a big role in the cooking time. So, we recommend weighing the meat before placing it on the grill so you can start your timer.

Even better, you can get a meat thermometer. That way, you can probe the meat every few hours or minutes to check the internal temperature. Again, the type of ribs you’re cooking will determine the ideal internal temperature. So, make sure to read up on what type of meat you’re cooking before placing anything on the grill.

Another tip is to trust the process. You want to keep the temperature as consistent as possible, especially after the wood burns out (which takes around 45 minutes). The more you lift the lid, the more you mess with the temperature, which affects the cook time and final texture of the meat.

If you want to keep your meat moist while in the smoker, you can spray it with a bit of apple cider vinegar every couple of hours. This may not be the right method for everyone, but it definitely works in enhancing the flavor of the ribs.

Step 5: The Rest

Once the meat has reached the ideal internal temperature, you may be tempted to dig in right away. After waiting for hours on end for the meat to cook and going through the arduous process, we understand the temptation. However, there’s one last step that’s essential when smoking ribs on a gas grill: the rest.

In fact, resting the meat after cooking is crucial for many dishes. When you cook meat, you slowly break down the cartilage and the juices. If you cut into the meat right after cooking, the juices will all flow out of the meat which can greatly affect the texture.

But if you rest the meat for at least 30 minutes (don’t worry, the ribs will still be warm after), the juices will have time to redistribute themselves. That way, the meat will retain all its flavor while still giving you the signature texture we know and love from smoked ribs.

Once you’ve given the meat enough time to rest, the wait is finally over. It’s now time for you to carve into the ribs and serve the delicious dish to your guests. Trust us, the taste is worth the wait.

Can You Use Wood Chips on a Gas Grill?

Smoking ribs and other meats on a gas grill isn’t just possible, but it could even be easier for a lot of people. That’s why many people have resorted to using their gas grill to smoke their meats. With these grills, you don’t have to wait too long to light up the fire and start the cooking process.

But does that mean you can use wood chips on a gas grill?

Yes, you can. Wood chips are a great option for beginner and experienced pit masters alike. They are packed with flavor, burn pretty easily, and are readily accessible. And while you can use them with a gas grill, it’s important to note that the process is a bit different.

Unlike a traditional smoker, you can’t put the wood chips directly on the burner. Aside from being dangerous for your grill, this also allows the wood to burn much faster, which isn’t something you want. So, if you want to use wood chips for your gas grill, we highly recommend using a smoker box.

These boxes create a barrier between the fire and the wood chips, allowing the wood to burn more slowly. If you want to learn how to use a smoker box on your gas grill, you can check out this video:

Should I Soak Wood Chips Before Loading Them into a Gas Grill?

We highly recommend soaking your wood chips before putting them on your gas grill. The downside to this is that it might take longer for your wood chips to heat up. However, this also means the chips will burn slower and much more consistently. This allows your meat to cook better and also absorb more flavors since wet or moist wood chips produce more smoke.

There’s nothing wrong with using dry chips, but you’ll notice a huge flavor difference with soaked chips.

You can soak the chips in wine, beer, water, and even fruit juice. And if you have a hard time lighting the smoker box with wet chips, you can start with dry chips and once they start smoking, add the soaked chips.

For the best results, we recommend soaking the chips for a couple of hours before smoking.


Smoking ribs on a gas grill is a whole lot of fun. These grills are easy to light up and stay at a consistent temperature, making them great for the low and slow cooking methods.

However, remember that you may want to use a smoker box with your gas grill if you want to get the best ribs possible. Additionally, killing the heat after the smoker box starts smoking is a great way to retain the temperature in the smoker and slowly cook your meat.

And as long as you remember those tips, you’re free to experiment as much as you want. Remember, you’re cooking to your tastes, so if you feel like you want to add something to the rub or mix and match woodchips, don’t hesitate to do so!


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