Here is the foolproof method to making fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs in the oven that will likely be the best ribs you’ve ever put in your mouth.
Photo credit: Iris O’Brien
Cooking fabulous ribs is not difficult.
If you think the only way to enjoy yummy, fall-off-the bone baby back ribs, think again! You can make them in your own kitchen~at a fraction of the price. The secrets to perfect baby back ribs are below. If you follow the easy steps, you will be amazed at how wonderful your homemade baby backs turn out.
Cooking baby back ribs is a process.
Making baby back ribs is a marathon not a sprint. It involves several steps, which is a good thing for those of us who are busy and want to have flexibility with timing. When I plan to serve baby back ribs, I start a day or two ahead. This takes the stress out of the process.
Photo credit: Iris O’Brien
Buy baby back ribs on sale; freeze for later.
Baby back ribs will occasionally go on sale for $2.99 per pound, which is almost half of what they typically cost. When I see them on sale, I buy at least two packages. There are typically two racks in one package. Then I freeze them in dry rub (do not brine before freezing). When I plan to serve these (always on New Year’s Day), I thaw them a day or two in the refrigerator. Then I follow the steps in the recipe below.
Baby back ribs are fabulous cooked in the oven.
For those of you, like me, who hate having to fire up a grill or smoker, you’ll be THRILLED to know that you can make fall-off-the-bones baby back ribs in your oven. It is EASY, and the ribs are AMAZING!!!! You’ll never long for smoked or grilled ribs. These are perfect. Everyone raves over these ribs.
Photo credit: Iris O’Brien
Long, low & slow heat make ribs fall-apart tender.
The secret is found in cooking the ribs LONG, LOW, and SLOW in the oven! When I bite into a “too firm” rib, I know that it was not cooked long enough. I typically cook three or more racks at 200-225 degrees for 8 hours or so. On top of this, I let them sit for 30 minutes or an hour after cooking. The meat gets even more tender and begins to pull away from the bone (see pics).
How are baby back ribs and St. Louis style spareribs different?
Baby Back ribs are leaner; spareribs are fattier and thicker. I always use baby back ribs, as this is our preference. For my family of five (now six with my new son-in-law), I would plan on cooking 3-4 racks of ribs. This allows for at least half a rack per person. We usually have leftovers, which is wonderful!
Do you remove the membrane from ribs before cooking?
Based on research from leading test kitchens, I have found that it is not necessary to remove the membrane from ribs. My recent recipe test revealed the same. We found that the skin actually aids in forming a crispy crust. So thankfully this messy step of pulling off the membrane can be skipped.
Does brining baby back ribs make a difference?
I have not personally brined ribs and have always had great results; however, my test kitchen chef advises brining. She says it makes a huge difference in flavor and tenderness. So personally, I am fine without brining. If you want to follow the professional, don’t skip this step.
Dry spice rub + barbecue sauce = fabulous.
Using both a dry rub followed by a barbecue sauce adds layers of flavor. The order is brine + dry rub + barbecue sauce.
- Dry rub: I include my favorite homemade dry rub in the recipe below. If you have a favorite store bought brand, by all means use it.
- Barbecue sauce: There are so many great barbecue sauces on the market. Many local restaurants sell their sauce freshly made or bottled. Grocery stores often carry some of these local brands. A few of my favorites are Dreamland and Big Bob Gibsons, which I often mix to get both a savory and slightly sweet flavor combination.
Savvy Tips & Tools for this Recipe
To accommodate several racks of these ribs, I use a large full sized sheet pan. I have used a baking grid to lift the ribs off of the sheet pan; I have also placed ribs directly onto the pan. If the ribs are arched so that the bones lift the meat off the baking sheet, the grid is not necessary.
I also use quite a bit of heavy duty aluminum foil, two pastry brushes, and 2 gallon or larger freezer bags if I freeze the ribs. If you brine the ribs, you’ll need a large stock pot. I share my favorite tools below, along with a video where I share my best tips + tricks for this recipe.
- Commercial Baker’s Big Sheet Pan. I couldn’t live without this. It is perfect for roasting veggies, cooking ribs, and doing big batch cooking in the oven.
- Oven Liners. One fat drippings spill is all I needed to turn me into a fan of these oven liners. No matter what spills, overflows or burns, if it falls onto these, you toss them (and put another one in its place).
- Large Pastry Brush. I love Oxo; it is my favorite for basting sauce onto meat.
You might also like another foolproof recipe: How to make perfect Boston butt pulled pork in the oven.
Recommended sides for baby back ribs.
I do hope this post gives you an easy way to put some yummy ribs on your family table. If you make any or all of these, let me hear from you in the comments! As always, I am grateful to you for stopping by, and I wish you a joyful, blessed, and savvy day!!!
- 3-4 racks baby back ribs (membrane on is fine)
- 1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- DRY SPICE RUB:
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- YIELD: 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
- To brine ribs, dissolve salt and brown sugar in 4 quarts cold water in a stock pot or large container; add ribs to brine. Marinate in refrigerator one hour.
- Remove ribs from brine; pat dry with paper towels.
- Combine spice rub ingredients in a small bowl (or use your own spice rub).
- Cover ribs liberally with spice rub.
- Cover; refrigerate ribs at least 2 hours or overnight. *
- Remove ribs from refrigerator; bring to room temperature for at least 30 minutes up to an hour.
- Line baking sheet with heavy duty foil, if desired.**
- Place 1/2 cup water in baking sheet; place cooking rack inside pan.
- Spray cooking rack liberally with cooking spray.
- Place ribs directly on cooking rack; cover entire baking sheet with heavy duty foil, folding edges underneath pan to seal.
- Bake ribs for 8 hours without opening door.
- Remove ribs from oven; let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes to allow juices to settle.
- Remove foil; brush ribs with commercial BBQ sauce.
- Return ribs to oven and broil on top rack of oven for 5 minutes or until glazed.
- Cut ribs into indivudual servings.
- Serve with additonal barbecue sauce if desired.
*If you want a sauce (fond) of drippings to form, leave the aluminum foil off the bottom of the sheet. If you want to discard the drippings, use the foil.
**If freezing the ribs to cook later, freeze them after brining and applying dry rub.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 579Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 22573mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 37g