When To Add BBQ Sauce To Ribs? ⋆ The Ideal Time ⋆

Are you cooking up some BBQ Ribs? Wondering when you should be drizzling that sweet smoky BBQ sauce over them? When actually is the ideal time to do so – let’s find out!

So, when to add BBQ sauce to ribs? The best time to add BBQ sauce to ribs is within the last 15-30 minutes of cooking. Adding sauce before then, or too soon, can result in the sugar in the sauce burning, which will undesirably change the flavor. Too late, and the sauce will not caramelize nor will the flavors will not infuse correctly with the meat.

As you can see, there really is an art and a strategy when adding BBQ sauce to ribs.

It’s all about timing.

And then there are other considerations too, such as how much sauce you should be adding.

Let’s now explore that so you get this, just right!

How Much BBQ Sauce To Add To Ribs

It is generally advised to apply 1-2 coats of BBQ sauce to ribs. This roughly equates to 1 cup of sauce on both sides for the average full rack of ribs.

So, if you are cooking up some baby back ribs, you’ll need half a cup, generally.

Ultimately, you don’t want too much sauce and you do not want to overpower the flavor of the meat.

It is generally much better to apply 1-2 coats, on each side, and then provide extra sauce in a spare serving bowl.

That way, anyone can have more sauce if they want it!

Should I Put BBQ Sauce On Ribs Before Cooking?

You should not put BBQ sauce on ribs before cooking. BBQ sauce is naturally high in sugar, which does not do well when exposed to heat for too long.

In fact, sugar burns when it is exposed to heat over 265 F/130 C.

If you’re grilling your ribs, for instance, then chances are you are cooking at or above this.

Now burnt BBQ sauce is not good.

And not only does it just taste off, but it also tends to thicken too.

So you’ll end up with ribs that do not taste right and have a strange texture too.


Adding BBQ sauce to ribs is not just something you do when you feel like it.

It’s a science.

And it’s much closer to serving than you might have originally thought, or at least, predicted.

The key is not to add too much sauce either.

That way, the true flavor of the meat comes through too.

Remember, you can, and perhaps should, also have extra BBQ sauce to offer in a side serving bowl too!

Related Questions

How Long Does It Take BBQ Sauce To Caramelize?

It only takes between 10-30 minutes for BBQ sauce to caramelize, on average. However, what sauce, how much is applied and the cooking temperature will all influence this time.

Do You Put BBQ Sauce On The Bottom Of Ribs?

It is recommended that you put BBQ sauce on the bottom of ribs. You can do so as you turn the ribs over during the final phase of cooking. This will ensure the ribs cook through and the ribs remain moist and flavorful.

What Can I Add To BBQ Sauce For Ribs?

Some of the best ingredients you can introduce to a bbq sauce include onion powder, garlic, mustard powder, paprika, or Worcestershire sauce. These will help to boost the flavor to an uninspiring BBQ sauce.