These fall off the bone Oven Baked Ribs with an amazing dry rub are moist, tender, and flavorful! No knife is ever needed, but stock up on napkins.
The tasty spice rub, a brief stint on the grill, then an oven braise in beer make for one delicious baby back ribs recipe.
Why You Should Make This Baby Back Ribs Recipe
I’m not a huge fan of barbecue sauce or anything with a smoky flavor, but these baked ribs were sublime. The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful, so tender it was falling off the bone! They are first covered with a dry rub and left in the fridge to absorb some of the flavors, briefly grilled then slowly cooked in the oven for up to 6 hours to reach the most tender state.
I used to bake then grill, but they’re so darn tender that it’s impossible to get a rack off the grill in one piece! I’ve recently found that grilling first then slow baking prevents you from losing ribs to the grill! Been there, done that.
- This tested technique works great. You get some charcoal flavor and umami from the short time on the grill.
- Plus, the results are super tender ribs from slow cooking them in the oven after grilling.
- And finally, the rub is amazing! There is nothing bland about these ribs as spice rub is delicious. Applying it the night before allows for the best flavor infusion.
How to Make Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs
This is our go-to baked ribs recipe. Besides getting thumbs up from the hubby, these are the only ribs my oldest son has ever liked. There’s no need to gnaw on the bones, the meat slips right off. Mmmmm.
Applying the baby back ribs dry rub
The night before you plan to cook your ribs, mix up the dry rub. Divide it between your racks and rub across the surface. I like to place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating overnight. The flavorful rub is mighty potent with paprika, cumin, chili powder and a special barbecue mixture from Penzey’s (worth making a purchase!). It could permeate any uncovered food in the fridge!
PRO-Tip: Rub your ribs with flavorful spice mixture the night before you plan to grill. A shorter time is fine, but if you have the opportunity to cover your pork ribs with the dry rub 24 hours ahead of time, they will be extra flavorful.
Optional grilling before baking
4 to 6 hours before you plan to eat, fire up the grill and brown the ribs. PRO-Tip: Any browning activates the Maillard reaction which is a chemical reaction that builds flavor!
Placing the ribs in the oven
Put a couple of lengths of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a rimmed sheet pan, then place the ribs on top of the foil in the pan. Pour the beer around the ribs, then fold up and seal the foil. Slide the ribs into a 250-degree oven to bake low and slow. Don’t worry if you aren’t a fan of beer, just think of it as flavorful steam. You won’t taste the beer in the finished product. And there’s also no need to use the “good” beer, as my husband calls his stash! PRO-Tip: Alcohol is a flavor enhancer, just like salt. The alcohol will evaporate with this long baking time.
I like to bake the full 6 hours, though the ribs really, really fall off the bones at this point. If you’re short on time, 4 hours is definitely adequate.
Glazing the ribs
Use your favorite barbecue sauce for the last step. We have a neighbor who graciously shares her secret family recipe with us every year. I have no idea what’s in her sauce, but we smear it on everything, including these ribs. Slather the ribs with the BBQ sauce of your choice and return to the oven with the broiler on. Watch carefully and broil a couple of minutes to caramelize the ribs.
Serving baked ribs
Cut into individual ribs or just divide each rack into thirds and divvy up onto dinner plates. Pass extra barbecue sauce and make sure to have plenty of napkins and wet paper towels or wipes available!
You can probably forgo the grilling first, but I love the bit of caramelization and flavor from a short grilling time. Since we finally have a gas grill along with our Big Green Egg, it wasn’t much extra effort to briefly get some color on the meaty side of each rack.
What to serve with ribs
Since ribs are meaty and rich, it’s nice to contrast with fresh, lighter side dishes. Of course, with my family, potatoes are a must!
Here are some of our favorite sides:
- Grilled Corn Salad from Well Plated
- Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Brown Butter
- Marinated Vegetable Salad
- Garlic Roasted Green Beans
- Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots
- Grilled Potatoes with Shallots and Thyme
- More Vegetable Side Dish Recipes
Tips for Making Barbecue Ribs
- I like buying my baby back ribs from my local butcher. They remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs which saves a step at home. It’s worth asking if they’ll do this for you at the meat counter. Otherwise, you can do it home by inserting a knife under the membrane and pulling it off using pliers.
- I have found super meaty baby back ribs at Trader Joe’s, too.
- If your ribs are too dry, they were cooked at too high of a temperature and too quickly. Remember, this is a low and slow recipe!
- If your ribs are tough, they were undercooked or the membrane was not removed.
- The rub I use is from Penzey’s Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs recipe! The cooking method is my own.
More Rib Recipes You’ll Love:
When it’s not grilling season, I love these Instant Pot Short Ribs. So quick and succulent. And if Asian flavors are your jam, we also love these oven-baked Asian Baby Back Ribs. These Honey Balsamic Slow Cooker Pork Ribs are a delicious option all year long, and if you have a smoker, give these Cajun Smoked Ribs a try! Check out all my favorite Entree Recipes for more grilling inspiration.
This recipe was first shared in August 2010. Photos and text were updated in 2020.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika or Hungarian sweet paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon whole celery seed
- 3/4 teaspoon Barbecue of the Americas (a Penzey's spice mixture). See note below for ingredients in this specialty spice.
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2+ pounds pork ribs (baby back), membranes removed from backs (2 racks)
- 1-2 cans of regular beer (I found some ale in the fridge which worked just fine)
- Combine all rub ingredients and mix well. The night before serving or early in the day you're serving, rub ribs with spices. Let sit at least 4 hours and up to overnight in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.
- Prep the grill and grill meaty side down until slightly browned.
- Place ribs on a baking sheet lined with two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold up all sides of foil and pour beer over top. Seal tightly. Bake 4-6 hours, till very tender.
- Remove from the oven and preheat the broiler. Brush ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and broil, watching carefully until slightly browned. Serve with more BBQsauce.
Note, that you must add the rub to your ribs at least 4 hours or even better, the night before you grill. So make sure you allot enough time before you plan to cook them.
Nutritional data is based on 2 racks of ribs and 2 cans of beer and 6 servings.
If you can't wait to get some Barbecue of the Americas spice mixture, here are the ingredients: salt, paprika, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, cinnamon, thyme (in order of larger to smaller quantity)
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Serving Size:1/2 rack
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 2206mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 17g