How to Make the Best Baby Back Ribs (Oven to Grill Method)

This baby rack ribs recipe uses a foolproof foil-wrapped oven method that works any time of year.

Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or just craving some smoky, saucy ribs, this recipe will be a hit with everyone. They fall off the bone, are topped with the best barbecue sauce, and will definitely leave you wanting more.

Make sure to take the time to remove the silverskin before cooking–this step guarantees tender, flavorful meat every time.

Close-up shot of beautifully caramelized, saucy baby back ribs, cut into individual pieces, displaying their glossy, appetizing appearance.

Baby Back Ribs

These perfectly tender ribs, coated in a flavorful rub and finished with a smoky barbecue sauce, are sure to be the star of your next meal.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Serving Size 3 servings

Ingredients 

Pork

  • one rack of baby back ribs

Rub (makes enough for two racks of ribs)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Barbecue sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • pinch of salt

Instructions 

  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a large baking sheet (a traditional 13×18 cookie sheet works great) by lining it with aluminum foil.
  • Make rub. In a small bowl, whisk together the rub ingredients.
    Overhead view of a glass bowl filled with a homemade spice rub mixture, with a whisk and striped kitchen towel beside it on a marble countertop.
  • Remove silverskin. Remove ribs from packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Place the ribs on the lined baking sheet. Turn the ribs meat side down to remove the membrane, called the silverskin. Slide a butter knife between the membrane and ribs about an inch in. This can be easier to do starting one or two ribs down from the top. Using a paper towel, take hold of the edge of the membrane and pull across the ribs and down. The paper towel helps grip the membrane to pull. Often the membrane comes off all in one piece.  If not, grab a hold of the next piece and pull until completely removed.
    Two-step image showing the process of removing the membrane from the back of a rack of ribs using a butter knife and paper towel on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Rub. Spread rub across one side of the ribs, rubbing the spices into the meat, using about 2 ½ tablespoons of the rub. Turn and spread and rub the spice mixture onto the other side, using an additional 2 ½ tablespoons of the rub.
    Overhead view of a rack of baby back ribs coated with a dry rub, placed on a foil-lined baking sheet ready for baking.
  • Bake. Cover the ribs with aluminum foil and place them in the oven. Cook for 2 hours and 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Check with a meat thermometer. Ribs should be at an internal temperature of 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit to be at the perfect tenderness. They are safe to eat at a lower temperature but need to cook to a higher temperature to be tender enough to eat. Place back in the oven for a few minutes if necessary.
    Overhead shot of baked ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet, showing a well-seasoned and cooked rack of ribs right out of the oven.
  • Make sauce. While the ribs cook, prepare sauce for your ribs. In a medium saucepan, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, liquid smoke, and salt. Cook sauce on low heat, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes. Refrigerate for later use or brush on ribs.
    Overhead view of a glass bowl filled with a homemade spice rub mixture, with a whisk and striped kitchen towel beside it on a marble countertop. 2. **Image of baby back ribs process-2:** Two-step image showing the process of removing the membrane from the back of a rack of ribs using a butter knife and paper towel on a foil-lined baking sheet. 3. **Image of baby back ribs process-3:** Overhead view of a rack of baby back ribs coated with a dry rub, placed on a foil-lined baking sheet ready for baking. 4. **Image of baby back ribs process-4:** Overhead shot of baked ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet, showing a well-seasoned and cooked rack of ribs right out of the oven. 5. **Image of baby back ribs process-5:** Overhead view of a saucepan filled with homemade barbecue sauce, next to a whisk on a marble countertop. 6. **Image of baby back ribs process-6:** Close-up shot of a rack of ribs on a grill, brushed with a thick layer of barbecue sauce, highlighting the caramelization and grill marks. 7. **Image of baby back ribs process-7:** A tray of sliced baby back ribs coated with barbecue sauce, with a jar of extra sauce and a basting brush beside them, ready to serve.
  • Finish on grill. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat. Brush sauce onto the meat side of the ribs. Place ribs meat side down on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes. Brush sauce on the other side of the ribs and turn over. Brush additional sauce on the meat side of the ribs again and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Brush sauce on again if desired and remove from the grill.
    Close-up shot of a rack of ribs on a grill, brushed with a thick layer of barbecue sauce, highlighting the caramelization and grill marks.
  • Rest and serve. Let ribs rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into slices by finding the soft spots in between the bones and cut between each bone, or serve two at a time. The bones can be at a slight angle and it can help to look at the ribs side, versus the meat side when cutting.
    A tray of sliced baby back ribs coated with barbecue sauce, with a jar of extra sauce and a basting brush beside them, ready to serve.

Notes

I used Hickory liquid smoke flavor.  
Any additional rub that does not come into contact with raw meat can be easily stored and used again. Both rubs would be excellent for other cuts of meat as well, like barbecue chicken.
I double this recipe for our family.
If you don’t own a grill, you can stick the ribs under the broiler for a few minutes as well. The sauce will still caramelize but watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. 
Finishing on the grill gets you that lovely caramelized sauce and smoky char that enhances the flavor of the ribs. It is best to apply the sauce to the ribs during the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. The sugar content in the sauces can easily burn. Applying the sauce too early can burn the sauce and affect the taste of the ribs. If you wait until after the grill, the sauce doesn’t caramelize or enhance the flavor of the meat when cooking.
I highly recommend removing the membrane on the back of the ribs before cooking. That will help improve the tenderness of the meat because the membrane tends to toughen when cooking. It also improves the flavor so the rub and sauce can permeate the meat. It is not too hard to pull off the membrane when you follow the instructions in the recipe, it just takes a minute or two and makes a big difference.
Ribs can easily be cooked in advance, up to two days before serving which can minimize oven time on a busy holiday cooking. You cook in the oven, refrigerate, and then finish on the grill with the sauce the day you are serving.
 
Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3237mg | Potassium: 636mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 1478IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 4mg

We love love, LOVE making these baby back ribs at our house. It’s one of those recipes that never fails to impress, and my family can’t get enough of them. Every time we make them, the ribs turn out so tender and flavorful. It’s our go-to dish for summer barbecues, and even when we’re just craving something special for dinner. The smoky, caramelized barbecue sauce is a favorite.

Overhead view of a plate with two pieces of barbecue ribs, a serving of macaroni salad, and a small bowl of barbecue sauce, ready to be served.

I hope you enjoy these ribs as much as we do!

Key Takeaways

  • Use Fresh Spices: Fresh spices can make a big difference in the flavor of your rub. If your spices are more than a year old, consider replacing them.
  • Let the Ribs Sit with Rub: For even more flavor, let the ribs sit with the rub on them for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
  • Keep an Eye on the Grill: When finishing the ribs on the grill, stay close and keep an eye on them to prevent burning. The sugar in the sauce can caramelize quickly.
  • Adjust Cooking Time for Larger Racks: If your ribs are larger than average, you might need to increase the cooking time in the oven slightly to ensure they are tender. The meat should pull right off the bone and seem super tender. If not, give them more time.
  • Try a new sauce. If you don’t want to make your own sauce, store-bought is just fine! We also love this recipe with homemade apricot barbecue sauce.

Key Ingredients and Tools

Here are a few important tools and ingredients that will help you make these ribs successfully at home:

Overhead view of a rack of raw baby back ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet, surrounded by small bowls of various spices and seasonings used for the rub.
  • Silverskin Removal Tool. A butter knife works well for removing the membrane, which ensures your ribs are tender and flavorful.
  • Kosher Salt. This type of salt helps season the meat more evenly and enhances the overall flavor of the rub.
  • Liquid Smoke. Adding a smoky flavor without a smoker, liquid smoke can be found in the condiments aisle and gives your ribs that barbecue taste.
  • Aluminum Foil. Essential to cover the ribs during baking to keep them moist and tender.
  • Meat Thermometer. Ensures the ribs reach the perfect temperature for tenderness, which is crucial for the best results.

These tools and ingredients make a big difference in the finished dish.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with creamy coleslaw, cornbread, cast iron baked beans, grilled vegetables, and Red Hot and Blue potato salad.

Troubleshooting and Help

Can I use store-bought barbecue sauce instead of making my own?

Absolutely! If you’re short on time or just prefer convenience, store-bought barbecue sauce works great. Just pick a flavor you like, and you’re good to go.

Do I really need to remove the membrane from the ribs?

Yes, it’s worth the extra step. Removing the membrane makes the ribs more tender and allows the rub and sauce to penetrate better, giving you more flavorful meat.

What if I don’t have a grill?

No problem! You can finish the ribs under the broiler for a few minutes. Just watch them closely to avoid burning the sauce.

How do I know when the ribs are done?

Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The ribs should be between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit for perfect tenderness. If they’re not quite there, pop them back in the oven for a bit.

Can I make the rub and sauce ahead of time?

Yes, you can! Homemade barbecue sauce can last 1-2 weeks in the fridge and can easily be made in advance.
Cooking the ribs in advance is a great idea.  You can precook the ribs up to two days in advance to eliminate a day of longer cooking when you want to serve them.  They can even be easier to work with after chilling before moving on the grill.  When cooking in advance, after they have cooled, cover them tightly in foil and place them in the fridge.  The day you want to serve them, or later the same day, warm them in a 300-degree oven in the foil for at least 20 minutes, while you preheat the grill.  Follow the instructions for grilling and applying the sauce and serve.

What if my ribs seem a little dry after baking?

If they seem dry, you can brush on some extra barbecue sauce before grilling or broiling. The sauce will add moisture and flavor.

Storing Leftovers

Refrigeration

  • Let the ribs cool completely.
  • Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil or place them in an airtight container.
  • Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Freezing

  • If you want to store the ribs for longer, they can be frozen.
  • Wrap the cooled ribs tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  • Place the wrapped ribs in a freezer-safe bag or container.
  • Label with the date and store in the freezer for up to 4-6 months.

Reheating Instructions:

In the Oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the ribs in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil to keep the meat from drying out.
  • Heat for 20-30 minutes, or until warmed through.

In the Microwave:

  • Place the ribs in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a microwave-safe lid or wrap.
  • Heat on 50% power to avoid overcooking or toughening the meat.
  • Check and rotate as needed until the ribs are heated through.

These steps will help you enjoy your delicious ribs even after the initial meal!

These perfectly tender baby back ribs are a hit every time. With a flavorful rub, a smoky barbecue sauce, and easy-to-follow steps, you’ll be enjoying delicious ribs in no time. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or simply craving a tasty meal, this recipe is sure to impress. Give it a try and enjoy the mouthwatering results with your family and friends. Happy cooking!

Overhead shot of a full rack of cooked baby back ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet, with visible char marks and glistening barbecue sauce.
How to Make the Best Baby Back Ribs (Oven to Grill Method)

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