Grilled Korean BBQ Pork Ribs (Dwaeji Galbi)

Korean Barbecue is easy to make at home. A slightly spicy, sweet and salty sauce made with ginger, garlic, gochujang and pineapple juice is used to marinade the pork ribs and provide a final flavor baste just before serving.

A partially sliced rack of Korean-Style Pork Ribs.
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Korean Barbecued Pork Ribs are the epitome of summer to me—sweet and spicy with ginger, garlic and the unmistakable flavor of gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste that has a mild but complex heat.

Their smokey spicy sweetness reminds me of outdoor meals growing up with my family because we would take them with us to the park, on camping trips, road trips. These ribs are made in three easy steps: par-boil, 30 minute marinade, and a finish on the grill to lock in the flavor and make the meat fall of the bone tender.

This is the flavor of my childhood and evokes memories of carefree moments playing with my siblings and running through the sprinklers on sunny summer days.

What is Gochujang?

Gochujang is one of the basic sauces of Korean cuisine. It’s made from chile powder, meju (fermented soybean powder), and yeotgireum (barley malt powder). It’s all mixed together with glutinous rice and left to ferment for a few months to get that thick texture, gorgeous red color, and depth of flavor that combines spicy, salty and a bit of sweetness.

But don’t worry Korean chilies aren’t that fiery. The color may be bright, but the spice level is more of a slow heat. It’s pleasant enough to tingle the tongue, but not so hot to make you sweat.

You can easily find gochujang at Korean markets, but also at most chain grocery stores.

A whole rack of Korean Baby Back Rib Recipe.
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

What’s in My Korean BBQ Marinade?

This marinade pairs a subtle spicy heat with sweet and salty notes. I achieve this by blending gochujang, garlic, ginger, pineapple juice, onion, and soy sauce together.

The slight heat of the chili paste balances the sweetness of the pineapple juice and salty bits from the soy sauce.

How to Pick the Right Ribs

For this recipe, I parboil the ribs before grilling them. That means your ribs need to fit into the largest pot you have.

If you have a tall canning or brewing pot then spareribs will work just fine, but if you need to fit them into something like Dutch oven or large soup pot, then choose St. Louis-style ribs.

Just like spareribs, St. Louis-style ribs are taken from the belly of the pig, only they are trimmed up and cut into an even rectangle shape, which means they are more likely to fit into your pot and a little easier to use.

Korean-Style Pork Ribs sliced and on a baking sheet.
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

How Long Should You Marinade Pork Ribs?

You can marinade the ribs overnight, but I wouldn’t go beyond 8 hours because the meat could end up mealy.

The acid in the pineapple juice helps tenderize the meat, and the basting at the end of the grilling process helps layer on the extra flavor, so a long marinade isn’t really required for this method. The meat gets plenty of flavor in about 30 minutes, which is just long enough to heat up the grill!

How to Make this Korean Barbecue Rib Recipe

To shorten the grilling time, and still end up with tender fall-off-the-bone meat I boil the ribs beforehand. After they are boiled, I place them in the marinade for 30 minutes, then grill them over indirect heat on either a charcoal or gas grill.

Once the ribs have boiled they are completely cooked so the time spent on the grill is to add flavor and make the ribs extra tender.

Quick Grill Tips:

·     Preheat the grill to about 250°F.

·     Line the bottom of the grill with aluminum foil to catch the dripping marinade.

·     When the ribs are done, you’ll see a bit of a char on the edges and the meat will easily slip release from the bone.

·     If you don’t have a grill, finish the ribs in a 225°F oven. Bake for one hour, flipping the ribs at the 1/2 hour mark.

What to Serve with Korean Barbecue Pork Ribs

A Korean meal is not complete without rice, kimchi and a variety of other banchan (side dishes). A nice green salad tossed with a sesame oil vinaigrette is a nice accompaniment.

Easy Korean Pork Ribs sliced and on a platter.
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

More Delicious Grilled Rib Recipes

Slow and Low Country Ribs

Grilled Spicy Citrus Ribs with Bourbon Glaze

Memphis-Style Pork Ribs

No grill? Try these Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Grilled Korean BBQ Pork Ribs (Dwaeji Galbi)

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 40 mins
Marinating Time 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds St. Louis-Style pork ribs (as a slab)
  • 1 cup gochujang (Korean chile paste)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice or minced pineapple
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Prepare pork ribs:

    Remove the membrane from the ribs. The membrane will be on the underside of the ribs, like a thin skin. Place the butter knife between the ribs and the membrane and loosen. Holding one edge of the membrane, peel off as you continue to loosen with the butter knife. If it’s slippery grab the membrane with a paper towel. Don’t worry if it doesn’t all come off in one piece and get as much of it off as you can.

    A rack of uncooked Easy Korean Pork Ribs on a cutting board.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
  2. Boil the ribs:

    Place the ribs in a large pot. Add enough water to cover. Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, start the timer and cook for 30 minutes.

    Use kitchen tongs to carefully remove the ribs from the hot water and place into a large pan or baking sheet until it is cool to the touch, about 15 to 20 minutes.

    A rack of Korean-Style Pork Ribs in a stock pot.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
  3. Make the marinade:

    While the ribs cook and cool make the marinade. Place the gochujang, pineapple juice, sugar, onion, garlic cloves, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. You should end up with about 2 1/2 cups of marinade.

    Remove 1/3 cup of the marinade from the blender and set it aside. You will use it to baste the ribs later.

    Ingredients to make the sauce for a Korean Baby Back Rib Recipe in a blender.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
    Blended sauce to make Easy Korean Pork Ribs.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
  4. Marinade the ribs:

    Use your hands to rub the remaining marinade generously over the cooled ribs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and at most 8 hours.

    A rack of ribs getting sauce spooned over top to make Korean-Style Pork Ribs.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
  5. Prepare the grill:

    Line the bottom of your grill with aluminum foil. If using a charcoal grill, place all of the coals on one side of the grill and leave the other side empty. If using a gas grill, light only one side of the grill. Clean and grease your grill grates. Preheat your grill to 250°F.

    A grill with the coals set up to make a Korean Baby Back Rib Recipe.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
  6. Grill the ribs:

    Place the marinated pork ribs over indirect heat, which is the side of the grill without the coals if using charcoal or without the heating elements turned on if using gas.

    Cover and grill for 30 minutes on one side. Baste the meat with some of the reserved marinade and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Flip the ribs over and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Baste then cook for 10 additional minutes. Flip one more time, baste and cook for an additional 20 minutes. The total time on the grill will be 1 hour and 40 minutes.

    You may not need all of the additional 20 minute cooking time, or you may need a little more. It all depends on how well your grill maintained the temperature. The ribs are ready when the meat is succulent and tender, not chewy, and falls easily off the bone when pulled.

    Grilling a rack of Easy Korean Pork Ribs.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
    A rack of Korean-Style Pork Ribs on a grill.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
    Basting sauce on a rack of ribs to make Easy Korean Pork Ribs.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
  7. Enjoy:

    Remove from heat and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm with rice, kimchi, salad and other banchan.

    A rack of sauced ribs sliced on a cutting board for a Korean Baby Back Rib Recipe.
    Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee