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5 from 4 votes

Removing The Membrane From Baby Back Ribs

The main reason why ​cooking ribs ​is so annoying comes down to the glistening membrane of gristle that surrounds them. I realized that while the membrane is the biggest annoyance with the prep work for baby back ribs, that still does not mean its removal needs to be a major production.

Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Baby Back Ribs
Servings: 1
Calories: 762kcal


  • A cookie sheet. Honestly, any long sheet tray is sufficient, so long as it can accommodate the ribs
  • ​Plenty of paper towels
  • ​Rubber or latex gloves
  • A trash can


  • One or more racks of baby back ribs


  • Before you plan on removing the membrane of gristle from your ribs, you want to make them as dry as possible.

  • Dryness will be a key quality for later steps of this tutorial.

  • After you have lain your ribs along whatever tray you have placed them on, use your paper towels to blot away as much of the blood and other fluids from the ribs.

  • Feel free to chuck the paper towels into the trash once they have become sufficiently saturated with fluids.

  • If you are averse to touching blood and the like, you are perfectly free to use elastic gloves to keep your hands clean during the process.

  • Use your submissive hand to grip the narrow end of the rib rack.

  • You want to grip it in such a way that the thumb of that hand keeps the meat sufficiently pinned down while you perform the next step in this tutorial.

  • If you happen to be ambidextrous, feel free to use whichever hand you would prefer for gripping the rack.

  • Use your dominant, or favored hand in the case of ambidexterity, and feel around for the part of the membrane that starts to show along the narrow end you have sufficiently gripped in this tutorial's previous step.

  • Once you have figured out where that area is, use some paper towels to grip it.

  • Once you have a sufficient grip on the gristle, with the paper towels giving you extra traction and grip, pull up and toward the rack.

  • As your goal here is to pull off as much of the membrane in one go as possible, you may need to "choke up" on the membrane and move your hand closer to the ribs; this will ensure that you always have a sufficient grip and minimize the chances of heaving moderate-sized pieces of membrane still clinging to the ribs.

  • Once you have successfully pulled away the large mass of gristle from your ribs, you may not have done a perfect job; there is a chance that you may still have some minor bits of the stuff clinging to parts of the meat.

  • While you can bother to try and remove those niggling little bits of super-chewy gristle, its up to you to decide whether or not those minutes of aggravation are worth the trouble, especially if most of the meat is still perfectly freed of gristle by your own hands.

  • Whether you have made peace with not having perfectly extricated every trace of membrane or lucked out and managed to get it all in one strip, it is time to move onto your next rack and repeat steps one through four.

  • Now that you have freed your ribs of their gristly barrier, you are free to season, rub and cook your ribs however you would like.

  • Ultimately, removing the membrane on a rack of ribs can be seen as the first step in the prep work of preparing a satisfyingly-tasty platter of smoked or grilled baby back ribs.

  • Now that you have reached this step, feel free to crack open a cookbook or search through cooking sites and forums in order to find the perfect ribs recipe to begin; alternatively, you may have already had a particular recipe in mind when you started the process of removing the membrane from a rack of ribs.

  • Either way, nothing short of lacking the proper ingredients is stopping you from pursuing whatever recipe you have in mind.


Serving: 240g | Calories: 762kcal