How to Make Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs in the Oven


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!

baby back ribs fall apart
                                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.

What is in my dry spice rub for Baby Back Ribs?

The dry spice rub is packed with all different types of flavors. I use garlic powder, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and a few others. Having a good dry rub ensures delicious flavor for your baby back ribs. If more convenient you can buy a spice rub from the store, but most likely you will already have most of these spices in your kitchen. 

When do you apply the spice rub and barbecue sauce?

You add the spice rub after the brine and before marinating for a few hours or overnight. After you apply the spice rub and marinate, you bake the ribs for eight hours without opening the oven. Once it has cooked and rested for 3o minutes, then you apply the barbecue sauce and put it back in the oven on broil for five minutes. This will ensure that the outside of the ribs becomes glazed.

What temperature do you cook baby back ribs in the oven?

You are going to want to cook the baby back ribs at 225 degrees F in the oven for the eight-hour duration that they cook. When you put the barbecue sauce on the ribs and put them back in the oven, you will want to turn the oven to broil for the remaining 5 minutes of cook-time. 

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! 

baby back ribs

Fall-0ff-the-Bones Baby Back Ribs: Oven Method

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

The foolproof method to making fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs in the oven.


  • RIBS:
  • 3-4 racks baby back ribs (membrane on is fine)
  • BRINE:
  • 1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. Remove ribs from brine; pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Combine spice rub ingredients in a small bowl (or use your own spice rub).
  5. Cover ribs liberally with spice rub.
  6. Cover; refrigerate ribs at least 2 hours or overnight. *
  7. Remove ribs from refrigerator; bring to room temperature for at least 30 minutes up to an hour.
  8. Line baking sheet with heavy duty foil, if desired.**
  9. Place 1/2 cup water in baking sheet; place cooking rack inside pan.
  10. Spray cooking rack liberally with cooking spray.
  11. Place ribs directly on cooking rack; cover entire baking sheet with heavy duty foil, folding edges underneath pan to seal.
  12. Bake ribs for 8 hours without opening door.
  13. Remove ribs from oven; let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes to allow juices to settle.
  14. Remove foil; brush ribs with commercial BBQ sauce.
  15. Return ribs to oven and broil on top rack of oven for 5 minutes or until glazed.
  16. Cut ribs into indivudual servings.
  17. 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

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  1. This is my go to recipe for when I’m cooking ribs, I absolutely love it. My friends and family go crazy when I make them, I always cook extra thinking there will be leftovers but they never is.

  2. Hi Deborah! The ribs are actually super moist! They are wrapped in foil during most of cooking, and this makes them fall-apart tender. The last part of cooking simply caramelized the BBQ sauce. You dont need to worry~these are great!


  4. Hi Sara!! Wow, you’ll have ribs for days!!! I would plan for 18 hours…..check them after that. If needed, keep cooking. You want them fork tender, so checking them is your best bet!!!

  5. My instacart shopper accidentally bought me an 11 lb rack of ribs instead of the 4 lbs I’d asked for. How long would I need to cook a rack that big and what temp?

  6. Hi Kim! I am so happy you are trying the ribs! I am making them for July 4th! if you are on instagram, follow me @family_savvy. I am sharing my rib process from star to finish on my stories!!

  7. Hey!!! I just stumbled onto your IG cooking and site! I’m so excited to try your ribs!!! Going to begin them tonight and cook all day tomorrow! Perfect timing.

  8. Forgive me, I just found your website and I might be a little too late LOL. However, I have 14 pounds of baby back ribs in the oven at 325° which I usually start at 275° of course I started behind the eight ball today! I put them in at 2 PM what is the guesstimated time for them to be done? Need a professionals answer !

  9. If I only wanted to make one rack of ribs instead of 3-4 would I cut the baking time in half?

  10. Hi Cindy! When I cook muliple slabs, I lay them flat (not stacked) on my large baking sheets. I have 2 full sheet pan sheets (20 x 15ish) that will accommodate that many slabs. I either use one sheet on separate baking racks or use two ovens. And I uncover them at the end, add more sauce, and broil until glazed or beginning to brown. Hope this helps!

  11. If I may ask, when cooking 5 or 6 slabs of ribs do you lay them one on top of the other then wrap in foil? Will they coo thoroughly this way, will they brown, if not how do you prepare enough for 6-8 people?

  12. Hi Rick! Brine supposedly adds more moisture to the meat which keeps it from drying out during cooking. I’ve made these ribs with brine and without, and I’ve had GREAT results both ways!!!!!

  13. Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.

  14. Hi Rachel! I am so happy to hear the ribs were a hit!!! I feel the same. Ribs “out” are not as good as ribs at home. Tell your husband thanks for the shout out!!!!

  15. We made these last night for a special occasion and my husband declared that he “won’t be able to order ribs anywhere else anymore because this recipe can’t be topped!”

    Thank you for this recipe, it’s amazing!

  16. Chris, everyone has their own tastes. Here in the South, many of us consider “fall-off-the-bone” to be superior and preferable. I certainly do! Thanks for sharing your opinion, though!!

  17. If they “fall off the bone” then they are overcooked/oversteamed. Eat/make them however you like but this advice is going to make a lot of people think they don’t like ribs when really they don’t like poorly cooled ribs.

  18. Hi Allison! Absolutely you can put them directly on the baking sheet. If you do this, yes, you would skip the water. Hope you love these as much as we do!!!

  19. If I don’t have the cooking rack to place on top of the baking sheet can I skip adding the layer of water and just cover the ribs tightly in foil? Or is the water sitting underneath the ribs necessary?


  20. Don’t knock St.Louis style ribs. More bang for the buck since Baby back ribs became trendy with Chili’s years ago they also became more expensive with less meat. You also don’t need to mess with any membrane. Also, I highly recommend overnight seasoning uncovered in the fridge for any style ribs and beef for that matter. Happy roasting!

  21. Great! Happy to clarify any time!!!! I place mine on the grid with the bony side down/meaty side up!!!! When are you making these? Please let me hear how they turn out!!!!! And when done, let them cool just a bit and slather them with your fave sauce(s). I love Dreamland and Bob Gibsons:-)

  22. OK got it …thanks
    “Place ribs on grid”
    Meaty side up…or…meaty side down?

  23. Hi Shak, let me clarify. I really just mean to cover the ribs with heavy duty foil and seal it well on the sides. Yes, the grid does have slats, but that helps air circulate under the ribs and cook more evenly. The wrapping seals in heat and makes them cook slower; if unwrapped, they don’t cook as well or get as tender. I hope this makes sense! These ribs are delicious!!!

  24. “Place ribs on grid; cover tightly with foil, sealing the edges to make an airtight “oven” for ribs.”
    If the ribs are on a grid/rack above a roasting pan…how do you seal airtight? If you cover the top of the ribs with foil…the bottom side of the ribs…in contact with the grid/rack… is going to be open? I don’t get it?

  25. Hi Emily, I am sorry~not sure how the slow cooker instructions disappeared. To slow cook: Season both sides of the ribs with dry rub. Slice racks in half or to fit into slow cooker. Place ribs standing vertically; cook on low for 6-7 hours. Slather with wet sauce when done.

  26. Jaime,
    I love this recipe for ribs – and your tips about the preparation have been a game changer! I bookmarked this page a while ago, and refer back to it whenever my family is ready for some ribs, but it seems that the slow-cooker directions have disappeared!!! This method yielded the best ribs we’ve ever had, and I can’t find a duplicate recipe that even comes close. Please post them again if you can, and thanks for ALL of your wonderful content!!

  27. Hi Missy!!! Oh the membrane won’t hurt a thing; you will LOVE the ribs!! So glad the red dress worked:-) Wish I had an exercise blog; maybe I need to start something for 2017 to keep myself in check!!! Happy 2017!!!

  28. Hey there, cooking your baby back ribs today. Let them marinate in dry rub, but forgot to take the membrane off. Doing in the crock.:) The red dress I bought back in November a bit to small, but so cute!! Hope you have a Happy New Year! Now onto read your exercise blog!! :)

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