When the craving for ribs strikes, there’s usually little you can do to stop it. That is, besides eating ribs. They’re just so satisfying. Sweet, salty, savory, tender...they’re like meat candy. But sometimes, the grill just isn’t an option. Maybe you live in a tiny NYC apartment (like me) or maybe it’s the middle of winter. No matter the weather or living situation, you can make amazingly tender, delicious ribs with this foolproof recipe. The last thing you'll want to do is run out before everyone gets their fair share, so make sure you have at least 4-5 ribs per adult, which is about 2-3 servings per rack. Here’s how to nail them:
Prep your ribs
First things first: Rinse your ribs. Usually, ribs come vacuum-packed and can be sitting in liquid that you definitely want to wash away. Run under cold water, pat dry, then peel off the “silverskin.” This is the shiny, white piece of membrane that sits on top of the bones, on the cupped side of the ribs, and makes things tough and chewy once cooked. Leaving the membrane on will also prevent your delicious dry rub from actually getting on the rib meat. The membrane should come off pretty easily (especially if it's a particularly thick membrane) but if not, use your paring knife to help loosen things up. Pierce the membrane with a paring knife and run it as far under the membrane as you can to start loosening it away from the ribs. Once you're able to get the tip of your knife under the membrane, you should be able to easily pull it off the ribs. Using paper towels or sturdy kitchen tweezers can help grab the membrane and make it easier to pull off.
Every now and then you'll find a rack that has the membrane already removed. If you're not sure or if you'd rather not bother with it, ask the butcher at your favorite grocery store. Once you're done prepping your ribs, be sure to clean your sink and the surrounding countertop.
The key to delicious ribs is robust flavor. This starts with the seasoning. Be sure to coat with a good amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. We also add a dry rub to our ribs to add extra sweetness and flavor. Let the salt and spices sit on your ribs for about 30 minutes or so before baking to really let that flavor soak in.
Everyone’s fave part of eating ribs has got to be the sauce. That, and having a legit excuse to eat with your hands. Ours is deliciously sweet, savory, and sticky, like a classic bbq sauce but next-level. It’s so much better than anything that comes from a bottle. The sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also flex your creative muscle with these delicious homemade options.
Keys for maximum tenderness
Ribs have a lot of connective tissue that needs time to soften and break down. But, since ribs aren't a particularly thick cut of meat, a long cook time leaves them vulnerable to drying out before they can every reach their signature tenderness. The key to cooking great baked ribs is a balance of low temp, lots of time, and moisture retention. We cook ours at 300° for 2 hours under a tightly wrapped layer of foil. The foil ensures that not too much liquid escapes while the low-slow cook breaks down the connective tissue.The best part is, unlike with grilling, this recipe is totally hands off. Put them in the oven, cover with foil, and let them cook. Be sure to cook them bone-side down to create plenty of airflow around the rack. Then baste with sauce and broil for a few minutes to caramelize and crisp the crust.
Try cooking Louisiana ribs in the slow-cooker next!
Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, and frozen, tightly wrapped in foil, for up to 3 months.
Have you made these yet? Let us know how it went in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This recipe was updated on February 13, 2022, to include more information.
baby back ribs
packed brown sugar
freshly ground black pepper
packed brown sugar
apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 300° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. If your ribs have a thin membrane over the bones on the backside, remove by carefully sliding a knife under membrane and then peel it away.
- In a small bowl stir together brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, mustard powder, and cayenne. Rub mixture all over ribs and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake until very tender, 2 hours.
- Meanwhile make barbecue sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all sauce ingredients together. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 hour.
- Turn oven to broil. Remove foil from ribs and brush both sides with barbecue sauce. Broil until sauce just starts to caramelize, 2 to 4 minutes.