For these oven-baked BBQ ribs, baby back ribs get cozy with a sugar-garlic-pepper rub overnight and then are baked in the oven until tender. The ribs are then slathered with a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce.
We’re all familiar with the glory of ribs slowly smoked in the backyard. But sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t agree with our barbecue plans. Thankfully you can achieve almost the same finger-licking, falling-off-the-bone results when you cook ribs low and slow in the oven according to this recipe.–Angie Zoobkoff
What’s The Difference Between Spare Ribs And Baby Back Ribs?
When it comes to deciding what type of ribs to cook, you have basically two choices: spareribs and baby back ribs. Spareribs are cut from the ribs closest to the belly and are meaty, bony, and thick. Baby back ribs are cut from where the rib meets the spine. They’re only called “baby” because they are shorter and thinner than spareribs; they don’t refer to the age of the pig. Each baby back rib rack averages ten or so curved ribs that are 4 to 6 inches long and weighs about 1½ pounds, which easily feeds two people as a main course. Baby back ribs also usually have a slightly higher price tag, but they’re well worth the cost, as they are generally leaner, more tender, and quicker cooking.
Oven-Baked Barbecue Ribs Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 2 H, 30 M
- Serves 4
- For the Sweet Heat Rub (makes about 3/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (53 g)
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon piment d’Espelette, Aleppo pepper, or red pepper flakes, or to taste
- For the Tangy Barbecue Sauce (makes about 6 cups)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 sweet onion (about 260 g), very finely chopped
- 1 24-ounce bottle ketchup (710 ml)
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar (474 ml)
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (120 ml)
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard (62 g)
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons 89 ml))
- Hot sauce, to taste
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Coarse kosher salt
- For the ribs
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 racks baby back ribs (about 3 1/2 pounds | 1.6 kg total), silver skin removed
- Sweet Heat Rub (above)
- Tangy Barbecue Sauce (above), for serving
- Make the Sweet Heat Rub
- 1. Combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and piment d’Espelette in a small bowl.
- Make the Tangy Barbecue Sauce
- 2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and simmer until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ketchup. Pour the vinegar into the ketchup bottle and shake to loosen all the ketchup from the sides. Pour the vinegar from the bottle into the saucepan and add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, hot sauce, and pepper.
- 3. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer until the flavors have smoothed and mellowed, at least 10 minutes, but recommended 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The sauce will last for months.
- Prep the oven and ribs
- 4. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on the sheet. Spray the rack with nonstick spray.
- 5. Rub each set of baby back ribs with 1/2 of the sweet heat rub. Set aside to come to room temperature, 30 minutes. (This step can be done a day ahead for deeper flavor: Rub the ribs with the rub and place in a resealable plastic container, or wrap in plastic wrap. If you use plastic wrap, make sure to place the wrapped ribs on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any seeping liquid due to the salt in the rub. Refrigerate to marinate overnight.)
- Cook and serve the ribs
- 6. Place the rubbed ribs side by side on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast until the ribs are done and a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the rib meat, about 2 hours.
- 7. Remove from the oven and let the ribs rest, covered loosely in aluminum foil, for about 10 minutes, and then cut between the bones to separate the individual ribs. Serve immediately with the barbecue sauce for dipping.