Costco Baby Back Ribs: Why I Love Them and How to Cook

Baby Back Ribs Smoked on Z Grill

The three pack of baby back ribs at Costco are one of the many reasons that I am happy to pay for my annual Costco membership.  If you are wondering if these ribs are worth buying, or are looking for the best way to cook them, then let me share some thoughts and ideas with you.

Baby Back Ribs from Costco

Why I Love Costco Baby Back Ribs

The baby backs from Costco are different than the ones I find at any other store for three reasons:

  • They Are Packaged as a Three Pack
  • The Membrane is Already Removed
  • The Ribs Are Extra Meaty

The Three Pack

There are three racks of ribs in each package which I like for several reasons.

It takes just as long to smoke one rack of baby backs as it does three so it makes sense to take advantage of the extra room in my smoker and cook them all at once.  I get to cook more meat with the same amount of fuel and time which counts as a savings in my book.

My family will typically eat one rack for dinner and then I will either vacuum seal and freeze the other racks for later or take some to my brother in law down the street.

Another reason why I like the three pack is I get to experiment with different rubs and sauces.  I am always tweaking my rib recipe and by cooking three racks at once with different flavor profiles it makes doing Head to Head taste tests easy.

Rib Capacity

Sure…I could get both of these advantages at a regular store by buying three individual racks but I would spend way more time being picky to make sure I was getting the best racks, etc.  Additionally, most of the time the only ribs I can find at my local Albertson’s are frozen hard as a rock and I don’t want to deal with thawing them out.

Costco Removes the Membrane From the Ribs

A wonderful benefit of these ribs is that the membrane on the bone side has already been removed.

Membrane Already Removed

I always take the membrane off of ribs as it never gets tender and only serves as a chewy barrier that prevents flavors from penetrating the bone side of the meat.  It takes me a few minutes and a bunch a paper towels to get the membrane off of other ribs so I am delighted that the meat processors have already taken care of this for me.

Costco Ribs are Extra Meaty

The Costco ribs typically weigh over three pounds per rack which is extremely large for baby backs.  This feature is a mixed bag…I really like the large ribs while some folks think that ribs this big are tough and flavorless.

Keep the size of the ribs in mind while you are planning how you are going to cook them as the large size does extend the cooking time.  Figure on an extra 30-45 minutes for these ribs compared to normal baby backs.  When I get ambitious I will take the time to brine these ribs to add some flavor and make sure they don’t dry out during the extended cooking time.

Are Costco Ribs Worth The Price?

The Costco baby back ribs currently cost $3.29 per pound.  A typical three pack weighs about ten pounds and costs a little over $30.  While this price is not unreasonable it certainly is not a Walmart style bargain.

Cost of Costco Ribs

I don’t mind the cost of these ribs as, like so many other items at Costco, you are paying a fair price for a high quality product.

Since I can’t find baby backs this big anywhere else and the membrane is already removed I consider these ribs to be worth the money.

How I Cook These Ribs

I love to smoke these ribs in my Z Grills pellet grill.  Here is the general process I follow:

  • Rinse and dry the ribs.
  • Apply a liberal coating of Bone Sucking Sauce seasoning blend.
  • Wait 30 minutes for the dry rub to penetrate the meat
  • Smoke at 225F for 4-5 hours using apple wood pellets.
  • After three hours start spritzing the ribs with water every 30 minutes.
  • Start testing for doneness after four hours
  • Apply a layer of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.
  • The ribs are done when a toothpick can easily slide through the meat.

Another great way to cook these is like I show in this recipe for 2-2-1 Baby Back Ribs Smoked on a Pellet Grill!

Baby Back Ribs Smoked on Z Grill

I really like the Bone Sucking Sauce dry rub but if you want to make your own rub then here are some great baby back rib rub recipes. I am a fan of Sweet Baby Ray’s flavor profile but if you want to switch things up then melted peach preserves are absolutely incredible on ribs.

Some people like to speed up the cook by wrapping the ribs in aluminum foil after the first two hours of cooking but I like the extra flavor that comes with extra time in the smoke.

Of course if you don’t have a smoker you can always cook these in the oven.  To bake these in the oven I would add the dry rub and wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil and then cook them at 250F for three hours.  When the ribs are probe tender remove them from the foil and give them a quick sear under the broiler before applying the barbecue sauce.