Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs

3.3
(23)

These classic baby back ribs are made in the oven and are much easier than you might expect.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
3 days 3 hrs 40 mins
Yield:
Serves 8 (serving size: about 4 ribs)

No need to worry about a grill or smoker for these melt-in-your-mouth baby back ribs. Instead, turn your oven on low, and give these easy baked ribs a try. Super tender and glazy from the broil, these Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs are classic in flavor and texture.

Smoked paprika makes up for the lack of actual smoking in this classic barbecue staple. That's our Test Kitchen's pro tip for when you want good barbecue flavor sans smoke. Brown sugar and the other rub ingredients, like dry mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, help create the sweet, salty, and smoky flavor ribs were made for.

After a little bit of brushing and baking, watching the sauce start to bubble during broiling will be your cue that it's time to poor a cold beer and grab the coleslaw.

Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs
Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Claire Spollen, Food Stylist: Margret Monroe Dickey

What Are Baby Back Ribs?

Baby back ribs, or back ribs, or loin ribs, are pork ribs that are typically shorter than other cuts, thus the diminutive name. No baby pig is required.

The ribs are cut from the backbone under the loin muscle. One rack has 10 to 13 ribs and weighs about two pounds, feeding one to two adults per rack (depending on how hungry they are). Tender and lean, baby back ribs tend to cost more than other cuts.

Baby Back vs. Spare Ribs

Spare ribs, or St. Louis-style spare ribs, are longer and flatter, cut from the pig's breast bone. Fattier than baby back ribs, spare ribs can be equally delicious when cooked properly. They also tend to have more meat between the bones. One rack weighs between two to three pounds and feeds several adults. Spare ribs tend to be more affordable than baby back ribs.

Is It OK to Eat the Membrane on Ribs?

You may notice a thin, transparent layer on the underside of the ribs; this is the membrane. Before cooking, remove the membrane by sliding a knife under the tissue and peeling away the tissue.

Alternatively, you can always ask your butcher to remove it before purchase, or your grocery store meat counter attendant can also do this easily. Membrane tends to be chewy and tough, so remove this piece to ensure tender and melt-in-your-mouth baby back ribs.

How to Cook Baby Back Ribs in the Oven

Low and slow is the name of the game when cooking baby back ribs in the oven. This recipe for baby back ribs calls for the ribs to be cooked at 275 degrees F and covered for almost three hours.

By wrapping the ribs in aluminum foil and cooking them at a low temperature, you ensure that the moisture gets locked in. In the last hour of cooking, remove the foil and add barbecue sauce to caramelize the baby back ribs.

How Long to Cook Baby Back Ribs

While this baby back rib recipe calls for cooking the meat at 275 degrees F for four hours, you may not have enough time to get dinner on the table. You can also cook your ribs at higher temperatures for a shorter time. Follow this quick guide next time you need to get a rib dinner on the table fast:

275 degrees F
3 hours

350 degrees F
Around 2 hours

400 degrees F
About 1 ½ hour

Barbecue Sauce Recommendation

While you can always pick up a pre-made barbecue sauce at the store, here's a list of our top sauce recipes if you have some extra time, a personal fave is the cola and coffee one.

FAQs

Should ribs be covered or uncovered?

In this recipe, the ribs are covered for most of the cooking time to lock in the moisture. Uncover the ribs at the end to ensure a nicely caramelized exterior.

Are baby back ribs from pork or beef?

Baby back ribs are pork ribs. They're often smaller and leaner than spare ribs. Beef ribs tend to be a bit larger, too.

What to Serve With Baby Backed Ribs

Most Southerners are going to have baby back ribs on the menu for backyard barbecues, holiday parties, or even just weekend dinners when you have time to devote to cooking them. (They do took several hours.) So if you have oven-baked baby back ribs on your menu, look to these classic sides:

- Tangy Rainbow Slaw
- Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob
- Texas-Style Baked Beans
- Southern-Style Collard Greens
- Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Southern Fried Corn

Editorial contributions by Alexandra Emanuelli.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard

  • 4 pounds baby back pork ribs (2 to 3 slabs)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 1/2 cups bottled barbecue sauce (such as Big Bob Gibson's Championship Red Sauce), divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F with rack in middle position. Stir together salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, pepper, garlic powder, and dry mustard in a bowl. Remove thin outer membrane on back of ribs by loosening with a butter knife and pulling it off; discard. Brush slabs evenly with oil; sprinkle with spice mixture, gently patting to adhere. (If desired, wrap ribs with plastic wrap; place on a baking sheet, and chill at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.)

  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set a wire rack inside sheet. (If you wrapped and chilled the ribs, remove and discard plastic wrap.) Wrap each slab with heavy-duty aluminum foil; place on prepared wire rack. Bake in preheated oven until tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from oven, and unwrap ribs; discard foil and drippings. Place ribs directly on wire rack; brush 1/2 cup barbecue sauce on top of each slab. Return to oven; bake at 275°F until ribs are tender and meat is pulling away from bones, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  3. Remove from oven; brush slabs evenly with remaining barbecue sauce. Increase oven temperature to broil, and return ribs to middle rack. Broil until sauce bubbles and starts to caramelize, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven; let rest 5 minutes. Serve.

    Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs on a tray with barbecue sauce and beers nearby
    Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Claire Spollen, Food Stylist: Margret Monroe Dickey
Updated by
Alexandra Emanuelli
Alexandra Emanuelli

Alexandra Emanuelli is a professional food editor and writer with nine years of experience. She has been published in HuffPost, Clean Eating, AllRecipes, and other publications.

Related Articles