Make fall-off-the-bone tender Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs low and slow with this super-easy recipe. Just trim, rub, wrap in aluminum foil, and bake in the oven.
Welcome to the less-fussy path to rib heaven. Ribs are a religion to some, requiring hours of fussing to create the perfect ribs. They must be parboiled (please don't), smoked, or whatever else they think is critical. I'm not saying great smoked ribs aren't worth the work, but sometimes you need easy.
The oven is perfect for low and slow cooking that works great for tough meats like ribs, pork butt, and brisket. Since they are thin, I prefer using foil in the oven to prevent dryness.
- Baby back ribs pork—or St. Louis ribs or spare ribs.
- Liquid smoke—good quality—optional but highly suggested. I use Wrights®️
- Dry Rub—rub of your choice, my simple suggested rub, BBQ Dry Rub for Ribs, or Memphis Dry Rub
- BBQ sauce—sauce of your choice, or try my Memphis BBQ Sauce.
- A simple suggested rub if you don't have one—brown sugar, kosher salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
👨🍳How to Baked Baby Back Ribs in the Oven
- Trim the ribs of loose bone chips or trimmable fat. Remove the membrane.
- Pat dry, give them a light coat of good quality liquid smoke, and coat with dry rub. Wrap tightly in foil.
- Bake in an oven 250°to 300° until 190°+ ( 200° to 205° preferred) and the ends of the ribs are showing—about 2 ½ hours.
- Drain any fluid. Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce of your choice. Place under the oven broiler or on a hot grill and brown the ribs.
⏰How long to bake ribs in the oven
About 2 ½ hours, but the size of baby back rib racks varies, as do ovens, so only estimated times can be given. If starting with frozen ribs, add about 30 minutes.
- At 250° conventional oven, bake for about 2 ¾ to 3 hours.
- At 275‡ conventional oven or 250° convection, bake for about 2 ½ hours—recommended.
- At 300‡ conventional oven or 275° convection, bake for about 2 to 2 ¼ hours.
- At 325‡ conventional oven or 300° convection, bake for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, but not recommended.
Time is approximate and given to help with planning. Cook until the ribs are done. Low and slow cooking is suggested for better results, so over 300° is not recommended but will still works.
👨🍳When are ribs done?
The internal temperature of the rib meat should be over 190° (200° to 205° preferred), and the ends of the ribs should be showing. Determining that the ribs are fully cooked is more important if cooking frozen ribs.
Other cooking options for your pork ribs include Grilled Baby Back Ribs or Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs. For country ribs, see Grilled Boneless Country Style Ribs, 30 Minute Boneless Pork Ribs, or Bone-In Country Style Pork Ribs.
🐖What are baby back ribs?
Back ribs come from the upper part of a pig's rib from where the rib meets the spine and is next to and inside the loin. They are shorter than the bigger spare ribs, so they are called baby back ribs. St. Louis ribs are spare ribs trimmed of some bone and cartilage waste.
The inside of the ribs does contain a membrane that lines the chest cavity and needs to be removed before cooking.
No, you can cook with the membrane on and eat around it. I have seen a few experts suggest it will become tender with cooking—it doesn't seem to work for me.
Yes. I commonly cook prepared ribs still frozen using this method. When I buy a package of three racks of ribs, I will cook one fresh and trim, season, and foil wrap the others before cooking. They are good in the freezer for 3-4 months.
If cooking frozen prepared ribs, it will add about 30 minutes to the cooking time. Determine when the ribs are fully cooked by the internal temperature of greater than 185° and the ends of the ribs showing.
Yes, but they are bigger and will usually take about 30 minutes longer than the smaller baby back ribs.
I serve it with extra sauce for dipping and provide a bowl for the bones. I prefer my Gate's BBQ sauce from Kansas City or my homemade Memphis Barbecue Sauce. Cooks Illustrated like Bull's-eye Original or Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce. But use the sauce you love.
For side dishes, mac and cheese or a potato side dish are always present. A side salad, baked beans, or corn on the cob are favorites.
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Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
All you need are the ribs, a rub, and a sauce of your choice.
Clean the ribs by stripping the membrane off the inside of the ribs. Trim any fatty areas as much as possible and look for bone chips from the processing.
You may use the rub of your choice or make the suggested rub. ¼ cup brown sugar, 4 ½ teaspoons diamond crystal kosher salt, 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Stir together in a small bowl.
Pat dry with a paper towel. A light coat of good-quality liquid smoke can be applied at this time. Sprinkle heavily with the rub and rub in on all sides.
Seal tight in aluminum foil (heavy-duty is better). You may freeze at this point if you want. If ribs are frozen, add 30 minutes to the cooking time, and you can go to the oven from the freezer.
Cook at 275° for approximately 2 ½ hours. Place the ½ sheet pan the next level down to catch any dripping if the foil leaks.
Remove from the oven, open one end of the foil packet, and drain the fluid and fat. If you are precooking for later, re-wrap and refrigerate or freeze. To eat now, place on the sheet pan and open.
Lightly brush a sauce of your choice on top (bottom is optional).
Finish under a broiler or on a grill for about 4-5 minutes (per side if you did both sides) until crusted with good color.
Easy Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs
- 1 slab baby back ribs - pork spare ribs also are fine here
- good quality liquid smoke - optional
- ½ cup BBQ dry rub
- 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
Suggested rub or use ½ cup of another rub
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 4 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt - see salt note below
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Clean the ribs by stripping the membrane off the inside of the ribs. Trim any fatty areas as much as possible and look for bone chips from the processing.
- You may use the rub of your choice or make the suggested rub. ¼ cup brown sugar, 4 ½ teaspoons diamond crystal kosher salt, 11/2 teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Stir together in a small bowl.
- Pat dry with a paper towel. A light coat of good quality liquid smoke can be applied at this time. Sprinkle heavily with the rub and rub in on all sides. If you are using my suggested rub, you only need about half the recipe per slab of ribs.
- Seal tight in aluminum foil (heavy-duty is better). If you have time, refrigerate at this point for 2 hours or even overnight. Even 30 minutes will get some extra flavor. Also, you can freeze at this point if you want. If you freeze, add 30 minutes to the cooking time, and you can go to the oven from the freezer.
- Cook at 275° for approximately 2 ½ hours. Place the ½ sheet pan the next level down to catch any dripping if the foil leaks. Or leave it on the pan.
- Remove from the oven, open one end of the foil packet, and drain the fluid and fat. If you are precooking for later, re-wrap and refrigerate or freeze. To eat now, place on the sheet pan and open.
- Lightly brush a sauce of your choice on top (bottom is optional).
- Finish under a broiler or on a grill for about 4-5 minutes (per side if you did both sides) until crusted with good color.
Your Own Private Notes
- You may cook as many at a time as will fit your oven but do not stack.
- Use the sauce and rub of your choice.
- You can cook spare ribs the same way but they will take about 30 minutes longer since they are bigger.
- You can freeze after the rub when wrapped tightly with foil. You freeze for 3-4 months and cook still frozen by adding about 30 minutes to the cooking time.
- To strip the membrane, it is easiest to start at the thin end and loose with a butter knife then pull with a steady pull at about a 45-degree angle to the ribs.
- Estimated cooking times for other oven temperatures are listed in the post.
- Ribs are done at 185°+ and rib ends showing.
- Brown up with a little sauce on a grill or under a broiler.
- All salt is not equal due to the shape of the crystals. If making your own rub, 1 teaspoon table salt = 1 ¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt = 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published January 10, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
Editor's Note: This recipe was originally published on January 10, 2010, which was the second week of the blog. The photos have been reshot, but mainly the text has been completely rewritten, but the recipe is the same.