Tender, juicy, mouthwatering BBQ baby back ribs. You love ’em, right? Yeah, me too! With this easy recipe, we can make the most delicious baby back ribs, just like the kind we’d get from our favorite BBQ joint or restaurant. And we don’t need any special equipment or smokers or anything like that. We’ll make the whole recipe right in our oven, and then finish them off under the broiler for a few minutes for perfection. You’re gonna love this recipe!
Why I Love This Recipe
Going out and ordering a slab of ribs has always been a special treat. The tender meat bursting with that flavor you know so well, getting your hands all full of sauce and deliciousness – it’s all part of the enjoyment. Most rib joints go through a whole process to make the ribs just right, whether it’s using a special large smoker or other such device for long hours at a time. No doubt this usually results in a great slab of ribs. But with this recipe, we take a more simple approach by using our own oven and the results exceed all expectations. With a simple seasoning rub and a fraction of the time, our oven will produce a slab of BBQ baby back ribs that you can enjoy for dinner any night of the week. It’s also a lot less expensive too!
Ingredients and Equipment
As mentioned, we’re gonna take the most simple of approaches with this recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Standard oven with broiler
- Sheet pan (baking or cookie sheet)
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Wait… that’s it? You bet it is! I told you I wanted to keep things simple. 🙂
Our ingredient list will keep things simple, too. This recipe is written for 1 slab of baby back ribs, but feel free to adjust accordingly if making 2 or more slabs.
- Baby back ribs. The average slab of ribs is about 2.5lbs but can vary slightly. No big deal. Cooking time will be a few minutes more or less.
- Brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
- Kosher salt or other coarse salt such as sea salt. If using regular table salt, use ¾tbs.
- Ground black pepper. I like fresh, coarse ground pepper. And personally, I go even a little heavier with it. 🙂
- Onion powder
- Paprika. You can also use smoked paprika for an even deeper, smoky flavor profile.
- Ground mustard. Even though we’re using yellow mustard as a binder, the ground mustard in the rub adds it’s own unique flavor characteristics.
- Cayenne. This is optional but highly suggested. Go lightly on the cayenne if you’re sensitive to spicy or heat, but the idea of the cayenne is NOT to make it spicy, but rather make all the other flavors pop more. Also, the BBQ sauce at the end will dilute the heat aspect of the cayenne.
- Yellow mustard. Yep, regular yellow mustard. This will be our binder to get the rub to stick to the ribs. The vinegar in the mustard also helps amplify the flavors as well as tenderize the meat. Mustard is so awesome rubbed on pork this way!
- Barbecue sauce. Use your favorite brand here. This goes on at the end when the ribs go into the broiler. The sugars in the sauce will caramelize, creating just the right amount of beautiful, tasty char on the ribs.
We’re gonna cook the ribs at a temperature of 300°F. This will allow us to still get a nice and tender rib, without an all-day cooking time of lower temperatures. So, start by preheating your oven at 300°F.
You’ve probably heard about the membrane on the underside of the ribs. If you’ve never cooked ribs before, this is something which needs to be removed. Start at the narrow end of the ribs and slide a butter knife under the membrane and it will start to lift up. Work the knife around in order to get enough of the membrane up so that you can grip it with a paper towel. Then, using the paper towel, gently peel the membrane back off the slab of ribs and discard.
Using a small bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: the salt, brown sugar, pepper, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika and cayenne.
Make sure you have enough room on your kitchen counter and layout 2 large pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil on top of each other, forming a double layer. Make it large enough for the slab of ribs.
Brush the all sides of the ribs with the yellow mustard and apply the seasoning rub. Then wrap the foil around the ribs and place on a rimmed baking sheet (top side of ribs up).
With our ribs seasoned and wrapped up, it’s into the oven they go.
Fall off the bone or not fall off the bone?
Rib enthusiasts have debated forever about which is better: fall-off-the-bone ribs or ribs that require a chew. There’s really no right or wrong answer, but many hardcore rib folks will say that the meat shouldn’t be falling off the bone. Much of this debate stems from BBQ rib competitions and the presentation of the ribs. If they’re all falling apart, they won’t look too pretty for the judges. And some consider that to be overcooked.
I’ve had ribs done both ways and have favorites each way too. There’s a restaurant right here in the Chicago area and they specifically tell you that the ribs are not fall-off-the-bone. And I Love them! There’s another favorite restaurant in the quaint town of Galena, IL and their ribs are SO tender and considered fall-off-the-bone. And I love those just as much!
Ultimately, you probably do not want the bones to just slide right out, or the slab to completely fall apart to pieces when picked up. But I like them to be tender for sure. So really, it’s a matter of personal preference. For this recipe we’re gonna aim for a nice middle ground.
Depending on the size of the slab of ribs, we’ll be looking at a cooking time in the oven of about 2-2.5 hours. If the slab is closer to 2lbs, 2 hours should be good. Closer to 3lbs and you’re looking at 2.5 hours or more. Check for doneness by using a toothpick and poke it into the meat between the bones. If it goes in easily, like poking into a soft piece of fruit, your ribs are probably done. If it’s tough to push in, you might need to cook the ribs a bit longer. But if the toothpick goes in super easily without any effort your ribs might be getting close to being overcooked, so out they go!
Brush and Broil
For the final step of the cooking process, carefully unwrap the ribs and push the foil down so that the ribs are fully exposed. Spoon out any excess liquid if necessary. Brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce. Now place the ribs in the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce carmelizes.
Ready to Serve
Your oven baked baby back ribs are now ready to serve! I like to garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and have some extra barbecue sauce on the side. And don’t forget the extra napkins too. Personally, I’m crazy about needing lots of napkins! 🙂
One of my absolute favorite sides with ribs is macaroni and cheese. I have a great Instant Pot recipe Mac and Cheese that goes awesome with these ribs. You can make it while the ribs are cooking and since it’s in the Instant Pot, no worries about taking up any more room in the oven or stovetop.
Another favorite is coleslaw! That cool, creamy crunch pairs perfectly with the tender, juicy, BBQ pork. Our Country Creamy Coleslaw is a perfect match for these ribs.
Storage and Reheating
Leftovers are excellent for enjoying another day. Make sure to let the ribs cool completely, then wrap tightly in foil. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To reheat in the oven: Set oven to 250°F, unwrap the ribs and place in an oven-safe dish. Pour a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth or water (or beer!) over the ribs to help keep moist. Tightly cover the dish with foil and heat for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
To reheat on the grill: Set the grill to medium heat and place the ribs directly on the grill for about 10 minutes or until heated through. Turn frequently to avoid burning.Print