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 have 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 is to pick them up from your favorite BBQ restaurant, think again! These can be made right in your own kitchen – at a fraction of the price! By following these easy steps, you will be amazed at how wonderful your homemade baby-backs turn out.
This Recipe Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint.
Cooking these delicious ribs is a marathon, not a sprint. As a result, it involves several steps, which is a good thing for those of us who are busy and want to have flexibility with timing! Whenever I plan to serve baby back ribs, I start a day or two ahead to ensure a stress-free process.
Photo credit: Iris O’Brien
Can I Make Baby Back Ribs 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 will never long for smoked or grilled ribs, and everyone will rave over how delicious these are!
Buy Baby Back Ribs on Sale; Freeze for Later.
A savvy tip is to buy your baby-back ribs on sale, and freeze for later use! They will occasionally go on sale for $2.99 per pound, which is almost half of what they typically cost. I always buy at least two packages whenever I see them on sale! After buying them, I just freeze them in a dry rub (do not brine before freezing). All you have to do is thaw them in the refrigerator for a day or two before you plan to eat them, and then just follow the steps in the recipe below!
Photo credit: Iris O’Brien
How Do I Make My Ribs Tender?
The secret is found in cooking the ribs LONG, LOW, and SLOW in the oven! Whenever 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. In addition to this, I let them sit for 30 minutes or an hour after cooking. After sitting, the meat gets even more tender and begins to pull away from the bone (see pics).
What Is the Difference Between Baby Back Ribs and Spareribs?
Spareribs are much fattier than baby back ribs. Because of this, I always prefer to use baby back ribs. For my family of five (now six with my new son-in-law), I would plan on cooking 3-4 racks of ribs. If I allow for every person to have at least half a rack, we usually have leftovers, which is wonderful!
Do You Remove the Membrane from Ribs Before Cooking?
After examining research from leading test kitchens, I have found that it is not necessary to remove the membrane from ribs. In addition to this, my own recent recipe test revealed the same. Not only did I find that removing the membrane is unnecessary, I actually prefer to leave it on because the skin aids in forming a crispy crust!
Does Brining Baby Back Ribs Make a Difference?
Personally, I have never brined my ribs and have always had great results. However, my test kitchen chef advises brining for added flavor and tenderness. To sum it up, when it comes to brining, the choice is yours! Feel free to experiment with both- you truly cannot go wrong and will get delicious baby back ribs either way!
Dry Spice rub + Barbecue Sauce = Fabulous.
Not only are these ribs tender, but they are also so flavorful! This is because the recipe uses a dry rub followed by a barbecue sauce, which ensures multiple layers of flavor. In order to maximize your flavor, first, use a dry rub, then finish with sauce.
- Dry rub: I include my favorite homemade dry rub in the recipe below. However, 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, and grocery stores also 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, and I have also placed ribs directly onto the pan. However, if the ribs are arched so that the bones lift the meat off the baking sheet, the grid is not necessary.
In addition to a sheet pan, 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. Finally, if you brine the ribs, you will also need a large stockpot.
Below are my favorite tools for cooking this recipe, as well as a video where I share my best tips and tricks!
- Commercial Baker’s Big Sheet Pan. I could not live without this! Not only is it great for ribs, but I also use it for roasting veggies and doing big batch cooking in the oven.
- Oven Liners. All I needed to turn me into a fan of these oven liners was one oven spill! No matter what spills, overflows, or burns, if it falls onto these, you just toss them (and put another one in its place).
- Large Pastry Brush. While there are many pastry brushes out there, OXO is my favorite for basting meat.
If you love this recipe, you might also like another foolproof recipe: How to make perfect Boston butt pulled pork in the oven.
Recommended Sides for Baby Back Ribs:
Everyone loves ribs, and I hope this post gives you an easy way to put some delicious baby-backs on your family’s table. If you make this recipe, let me hear from you in the comments! As always, thanks for stopping by! Be blessed, and stay savvy!
- 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