How to Remove the Rib Membrane: 10 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Remove the Rib Membrane: 10 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Remove the Rib Membrane: 10 Steps (with Pictures)

Everyone loves a good piece of rib, but the thick membrane behind it can make the bite hard. Removing the “white skin” before cooking allows you to season the meat instead of the membrane and helps make the rib even more tender and juicy. If you find and release the membrane, you can remove it from the rib, leaving the piece ready to make your favorite recipe.


Method 1 of 2: Finding and Loosening the Membrane

Step 1. Take the rib out of the wrapper

Take the rib out of the wrapper and dry it using a paper towel. Discard used paper in the trash.

Resist the temptation to wash the meat as this can cause cross contamination in your kitchen and prevent it from browning

Step 2. Turn the rib so that the bones are on top

Place the rib on a clean surface such as a cutting board or baking sheet. Position so that the concave side is up and the other is down on the board or baking sheet.

You'll know it's facing the right way when the white membrane is facing you

Step 3. Use a sharp knife to go under the membrane

Locate a rib in the middle of the piece by groping with your fingers until you find a firm bone. At the base of this rib, on the side closest to you, hold the notch knife horizontally and push the sharp point between the rib and the membrane covering it.

  • Press knife between rib and webbing until the entire blade is under the webbing.
  • Be careful not to press the sharp tip of the knife across the membrane.

Step 4. Lift the membrane with the cordless blade part of the knife

Turn the knife vertically so that the blunt side of the knife lifts the membrane slightly. The sharp side will be against the rib bone. In doing this, an air space must open up between the bone and the membrane.

If you are not very skilled with knives, place a cordless butter passer in the gap created by the sharp knife to loosen the membrane. This lessens the chances that you will cut white skin

Step 5. Tilt the knife upwards at a 30 degree angle

Press sharp side of knife against rib bone and lift with knife shank. Keep the sharp side of the knife in contact with the rib. This movement will help lift the membrane even more.

Take the knife out of the rib and set it aside

Method 2 of 2: Pulling the Rib Membrane

Step 1. Place a finger in the gap between bone and membrane

Place your index finger in the space the knife opened under the membrane. Move your finger from side to side to further separate the membrane and increase the gap.

Try to lift the membrane with your finger enough to form a flap of fabric that you can grip

Step 2. Use a sheet of paper towels to pick up the membrane

Place a clean sheet of paper towel over the palm of your dominant hand so that it covers your index finger and thumb. Take the paper in your hand and use it to catch the loose edge of the membrane between your fingers.

The paper will give a better grip to hold the membrane, which is strong and slippery

Step 3. Run your fingers under the webbing until you reach the other side of the rib

Hold the rib with your non-dominant hand and pull the edge of the membrane using the paper with your dominant hand. As you rise, press the fingers of your non-dominant hand to the other side of the rib.

  • The fingers will come out the other side, creating an arch of membrane.
  • If the membrane starts to tear as you lift it, use the knife to separate the rib from the membrane on the other side to meet the side you are moving.

Step 4. Pull the membrane up, away from the rib

Place two fingers of your dominant hand on the “tab” you made, across the space between the rib and the webbing. Press down on the rib with the other hand and pull the membrane upwards away from the meat. It should come out in one piece.

  • If your rib is very long, readjust the size of the webbing edge you will loosen as needed, moving closer to the rib edge to lift the webbing all at once.
  • If you slip your hand when pulling the membrane, take a sheet of paper towel and pull using it for a better hold.

Step 5. Discard the membrane

Throw the thick white skin of the membrane that comes out of the rib in the trash. Now your rib piece is clean and ready to be seasoned and prepared as you prefer.


  • Make the rib on the barbecue to give it a smoky and delicious flavor.
  • Roasting the rib in the oven is a great way to make it juicy if the weather isn't right for a barbecue.
  • If you like methods that take little work, try using a crockpot to let the meat fall off the bone it's so soft.

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