Astoundingly tender and judiciously spicy, these oven barbecued ribs gain a rich, deep smokiness from ground tea leaves and a simple turn in a hot oven, no fancy outdoor equipment or wood chips required. The recommended black tea—lapsang souchong—is smoked over pine leaves and characterized by bold aromas and intense flavor.Jenny Howard


To remove the membrane or silver skin from a rib, use the tip of a small knife to loosen a corner and then grab the membrane with a paper towel and slowly pull it off.

Four slabs of BBQ oven ribs on a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.

Oven Barbecued Ribs

5 from 1 vote
Want smoky, bbq ribs, but don't have a grill or wood chips available? Try these tender, oven-roasted spareribs that are smoked over tea leaves.
David Leite
Servings4 to 5 servings
Calories1611 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Chilling time10 hours
Total Time12 hours


  • Baking stone or cast-iron skillet


  • 6 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two racks St. Louis–style spareribs, trimmed of excess fat, membranes removed* (see * Note), and each rack cut in half
  • 1/4 cup finely ground Lapsang souchong tea leaves, (from about 10 tea bags, or 1/2 cup loose tea leaves (20 g), ground in a spice grinder)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice


Prepare the ribs

  • In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, ketchup, and garlic. In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, paprika, chili powder, pepper, and cayenne.
  • Spread the mustard mixture in a thin, even layer over both sides of the ribs. Sprinkle the spices over the mustard mixture, coating both sides of the ribs.
  • Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.

Cook the ribs

  • Transfer the ribs from the refrigerator to the freezer for 45 minutes.
  • Adjust oven racks to the lowest and upper-middle positions (at least 5 inches [13 cm] below the broiler element). Place a baking stone on the lower rack and preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  • Sprinkle ground tea evenly over the bottom of the rimmed baking sheet. Place a wire rack inside the baking sheet over the tea.
  • Place the ribs, meat side up, on the wire rack, overlapping each piece, if necessary. Cover the baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil, crimping edges tightly to seal.
  • Place the baking sheet on the preheated baking stone and roast the ribs for 30 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F (121°C), leaving the oven door open for 1 minute to drop the temperature. While the oven is open, carefully lift 1 corner of the foil and pour the apple juice into the bottom of the baking sheet. Reseal the foil before closing the oven door.
  • Continue to roast the ribs until the meat is very tender and begins to pull away from bones, about 1 hour.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and discard the foil. Carefully flip the ribs bone side up.
  • Turn on the broiler and return the baking sheet to the oven on the upper rack. Cook the ribs until well browned and crisp in spots, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip ribs meat side up and cook until browned and crisp, 4 to 6 minutes more.
  • Let ribs cool for at least 10 minutes before serving with plenty of paper napkins.
100 Techniques Cookbook

Adapted From

100 Techniques

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 1611 kcalCarbohydrates: 19 gProtein: 87 gFat: 130 gSaturated Fat: 42 gMonounsaturated Fat: 48 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 440 mgSodium: 3416 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 14 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 America’s Test Kitchen. Photo © 2020 America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Not my cup of tea! Pun intended. Loved the process, especially the slathering of the sauce on the meaty ribs pre-cooking, and the alternative smoking method. I own a smoking gun and a real smoker but it’s great to have an alternative to share recipes with those who don’t have smokers or for when the weather isn’t cooperating with your cooking plans.

If you can get past the greasy ugly baking sheet and rack you have to wash at the end of the process, and if you like the flavor of Lapsang Souchong tea, and love fall-off-the-bone BBQ ribs, this recipe is for you! My husband and daughter really loved these!

Loved the crispy yet meaty edges and the fact that the rub wasn’t very sweet. I would definitely make these again using a different tea or even cutting back to 10 g. and better protecting my pan for clean-up.

Four slabs of BBQ oven ribs on a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.

These ribs are delicious! They’re tender, juicy, and have a wonderful light smoked flavor. They smell so good as they are cooking. Our mouths were watering and we couldn’t wait to taste them. They didn’t disappoint. When I asked my usual question, “Are these a make-again?”, I was told, “Yes. And often.”

Although you need to start these ribs the night before and plan about 3 hours for the freezing and cooking time the next day, they’re easy to make and don’t require much hands-on time. I did find the rimmed baking sheet a chore to clean. Next time, I’ll line my pan with aluminum foil, shiny side down for ease of cooking.

After adding the apple juice, I roasted the meat for 1 hour. At that point it was tender and falling off the bone. I broiled them, bone side up for 5 minutes and meat side up for 4 minutes.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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