If you want to learn how to make BBQ ribs in the oven, you will love my simple two-step process: First bake the ribs in the oven till tender, then broil the sauce till it caramelizes. These are the best oven baked ribs you will ever have.
Tis the season. Grilling tools are being replaced with snow shovels and the hammock is being traded in for the overstuffed chair in front of the fireplace. However, that does not mean you still can't enjoy the spoils of the grilling season, indoors. During the cold winter months you can still savor finger-licking BBQ pork ribs without dashing through the snow to your favorite smoker. You can make great BBQ ribs in the oven.
How to Make Ribs Tender
Making ribs in your oven can quickly lead to disaster for many home cooks. Ribs by nature are tough pieces of meat. The best ribs transform only through a long, slow, cooking process that they begin to melt into that tender summer treat we crave to slather with succulent sauces. Inexperienced home cooks will find that the baby backs have come up to a safe serving temperature and take them out of the oven well before they are actually done.
Unlike many pieces of meat, just because the ribs have come to the proper temperature does not actually mean they are done cooking. Instead, they need to continue to cook so the collagen (connective tissue) breaks down, rendering a much more tender piece of meat.
There is a household phrase that continues to be a misnomer of ideal BBQ ribs: "Fall of the bone." You do not want "Fall off the bone" ribs. These have been overcooked and feature a mushy texture - more reminiscent of a lazy crock-pot cook than a seasoned pit-master.
When Are Ribs Done
Properly cooked rib meat should threaten to crack when held up with tongs, and the bones should be able to be pulled away fairly cleanly with a firm twist. However, the meat should not come separated from the bone without assistance and should not lend itself to be described as "falling off the bone." A properly cooked rib should be soft and tender but yet still have a slight chew to the meat, much like a very tender steak.
How to Remove the Membrane
To begin making the best BBQ ribs in your oven start by removing the tough membrane from under your rack of ribs. This is the silver skin on the bone side of the ribs. Removing it is tricky for some, but it is pretty easy with this trick. Simply slide a spoon between the membrane and a bone to loosen it up, then I use a napkin for grip and pull it off the slab in one strip. The napkin prevents your fingers from slipping off. You can also use a butter knife, just be careful not to puncture the thin membrane.
Once this is done the meat can be seasoned with your favorite spice rub or simply some salt, then they are ready to cook in the oven. My personal preference is my dry rub recipe containing brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper.
How to Make Ribs in the Oven
When cooking ribs outdoors I adhere to strict traditionalism. I use a smoker and I do not take shortcuts in their preparation. The best way is a very common slow and slow '3-2-1 rib method', figuring if it is good enough for competition pit-masters, it is the method I should get acquainted with. However, when I make BBQ ribs in the oven I don't prefer utilizing the 3-2-1 method.
The best way to make ribs in the oven is a simple two-step process: First bake the ribs at 350 degrees for two hours until tender, then broil the sauce till it caramelizes. For this simple method, the ribs are wrapped in aluminum foil and set on a sheet pan on the middle oven rack while baking in the oven. The foil wrap helps significantly reduce the cooking time.
Why Wrap Ribs?
Wrapping the ribs in aluminum foil helps speed the cooking process while ensuring they are melt-in-your-mouth tender. This is also referred to as the Texas Crutch. However, after two hours of cooking, we will unwrap the ribs to apply the sauce.
Baking wrapped ribs at 350 degrees is the best temperature because at this point, the internal temperature of the ribs will be safe to eat long before it ever is perfectly tender. For this reason, I typically don't bother with a meat thermometer if the unwrapped ribs are nice and tender.
Tip: You can do the bend test to see how tender your ribs are. Lift the rack of ribs from one end so it begins to bend. If it is sufficiently tender your rack of ribs will crack and threaten to break.
How to Make Sticky Ribs
When the tender ribs are finished cooking we are going to paint them in BBQ sauce and then caramelize the sauce under the higher temperature of your broiler until they are delectably sticky. You will place the ribs under the broiler lacquer with additional sauce every few minutes until a hot sticky bark is formed. This will take 30-60 minutes total, depending on how thick you want the sauce.
Broiling the ribs coated in sauce is the secret to this easy recipe. Broiling BBQ sauce will quickly cause it to boil, releasing moisture and causing it to thicken into a finger-lickingly delicious sticky jam. Not only will this thicker sauce adhere to the meat better, the flavor becomes more concentrated as well. You can use this recipe with my homemade BBQ sauce, or buy your favorite barbecue sauce from the grocery store.
BBQ sauce is high in sugar so carefully watch the ribs under the broiler as the high temperature can burn it easily. They should never be left under the broiler for more than a few minutes at a time without being moved around or adding additional sauce or you will be awoken to your mistake by smoke alarms.
Tip: You obviously want to cover the meaty side of the ribs with sauce but also make sure to cover the sides of the ribs and the underside as well.
What to Serve with BBQ
- Homemade Baked Beans - a BBQ classic staple!
- Macaroni Salad - Creamy and delicious!
- Classic Coleslaw - Tangy and crunchy!
- Hand-cut French fries - Great to pair with this recipe because you won't need the oven for the French fries, just the stovetop.
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How to Make BBQ Ribs in the Oven
- 1 slab Baby Back Ribs
- 1 bottle BBQ Sauce
- BBQ Dry Rub
- Preheat the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs using a spoon to slide between the membrane and a bone to loosen it up and then pull off the membrane with a napkin in your hand for grip.
- Once this is done the meat can be patted dry with a paper towel then seasoned with your favorite dry rub or simply some salt and black pepper.
- Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and set in the oven for two hours with the rack in the middle position.
- After two hours, unwrap ribs, discard the juice and foil.
- Flip ribs upside down and slather the bottom generously with BBQ sauce. Turn on the broiler and set BBQ ribs underneath until the sauce has thickened.
- Flip ribs back upright and add a generous amount of sauce to the top of the ribs and place back under broiler. Continuing to lacquer with additional sauce every few minutes until a hot sticky bark is formed to your liking. Approximately 30 minutes (but feel free to do it longer)
- Once lacquered, let the ribs rest for 15 minutes prior to slicing and serving.
This recipe was originally published on FoxValleyFoodie.com December 9, 2012.
Great recipe !
I am just going to do a dry rub without the bbq sauce
can you use Asian style cut ribs
Really enjoyed the recipe. was in Puerto Rico and didn't have a barbecue Use my own space and rub but came out fantastic
the recipe says broil for an additional 30-60 minutes.
do you mean actually use the broiler setting or keep the oven at 350 and continue to reapply sauce every few minutes? If I do this using my broiler my ribs will be burnt to a crisp.
I appreciate the clarification. Thank you for the recipe.
Fox Valley Foodie
Good question. Yes, broil them for 30+ minutes, but remember you are removing them to apply more sauce every few minutes and keeping an eye on them so they don't burn. If you just stick them under the broiler for 30 minutes and walk away you will probably have the fire department over!
Have made this recipe several times, all came out perfectly!
Wondering if I could season the ribs when I buy them, then fold in foil and freeze til needed? I'm always looking for a shortcut when preparing for company.
Wow!!!! My first time making ribs in the oven and this recipe was incredible. Literally falling off the bone. I didn’t do 30 min broiling though. It was no more than 5 minutes for me but I also didn’t add sauce either. OMG! I’ll definitely be making again
Made these during “shelter at home status”. Craving my favorite rib joint that was closed , so had to make my own. Excellent, easy to follow instructions. Turned out so delicious. Thank you for sharing. Loved the flavor of the broiled bbq sauce. One of the few highlights of this strange time is discovering great sites like this one to learn new recipes and techniques.
I need to cook 5 slabs of baby back ribs for a dinner party, can I cook them all at the same time? Would I need add extra time? I have a regular size oven.
Fox Valley Foodie
As long as you don't crowd them in the oven and leave plenty of room for air to circulate around them they should cook just fine. I have found sometimes things take longer to cook when you fill the oven, so I recommend just taking one out at the end of baking and testing it for tenderness before unwrapping the remaining ribs. If it isn't tender enough for your liking, rewrap it and bake longer.
absolutely loved this recipe! I'd never made ribs before, but these turned out incredible. I'm usually not a fan of "sticky" ribs (beard.) but these were so worth it.
I do, however, have a really, really stupid question; what's the top and what's the bottom of the ribs? the convex or concave position? i.e. tent or bowl?
Fox Valley Foodie
The top is when it is sitting like a tent. The bottom (upsidedown) is when it looks like a bowl.
Can 2 racks of baby back ribs be cooked in the oven side by side in the same pan?
Fox Valley Foodie
Sure can! Just leave a bit of space between them for even cooking.
If you don’t want to stand over the broiler I put my oven at 250 and 2 hrs for 6 lbs of baby back with rub wrapped in foil and also after that open foil put on sauce and broil but only for a few minutes. Same recipe I just think the two hrs makes the difference. 3 hrs if not baby back
Did the ribs in oven recipe, came out nicely, except I should have watched a bit more closely towards the end as the sauce one of my two racks, got a little burnt.
I want to try your recipe and have two racks of St. Louis style pork spare ribs. Would like to cook these tomorrow, but figured I would verify this cut should be fine, although they may be a challenge getting into the broiler....?
Fox Valley Foodie
Spare ribs would also work OK, though they take a little longer to get tender. I have not tested this recipe with spare ribs, but would expect to cook them in foil for an extra 15-30 minutes to compensate. There is no reason why they should be any harder to broil though.
Actually, I thought about doing just that, but then the instructions on the package thwy came in said 335-340 for 2-2.5 hrs. So I just left them at 350 for 2 hrs and after app. 35 mins of broiling sauce on the ribs, they were cooked plenty well. Not falling off but pretty tender and loose.
About to make these a second time. Used this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it was simply heavenly! Such a fast, effective method for making fall off the bones ribs!
I have always just gotten by with baby back ribs. I found your recipe a few weeks ago and figured I would give it a go. I have never gotten the compliments from my husband as I did with this recipe. I made them again this past weekend for a small gathering and wow, the compliments were plenty. Thank you, thank you for a wonderful recipe that will be used over and over in my kitchen.
I love the process! I used the good ol' classic Sweet Baby Rays on my ribs and it was a hit with the fam bam. Thanks for sharing your method.
I used 2 racks of pork back ribs didn't change time or temp and when it was time to flip to sauce them they kinda fell apart. So next time i cooked them upside down for 2 hours, opened foil, removed juices, sauced bottom, broiled 5 minutes, flipped ribs with foil right side up, removed foil, slathered the bbq sauce 3x's 5 min. each time. They were easier to handle and still turned out as delicious as b4! Thank you Fox Valley Foodie!!
Brilliant idea! I had the same issue last time I made these so I'm going to do this today, thank you!
Thanks so much for a sensible recipe that yields great results. I've been burned by the "low and slow" methods that turn out mushy, almost inedible ribs. Great job!
Fox Valley Foodie
Yeah, I've been burned by those too, so I get it.
My ribs turned out over-done. When you wrap them, cut the rib portions into sections that allow your foil to completely surround the ribs. Mine dried out because of the poor seal from needing 2 pieces of foil for each rack of ribs. I had beef ribs. The place that packed them harvested too much meat from each section before packing them. They were a good deal, or so I thought. Remove that membrane! this method did not allow the break done that the low and slow allows. The rack of ribs curled and was very tough. I have an identical package of ribs that I will try with a low and slow cook and my other corrections and get back to you..