Easy Air Fryer Ribs

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Easy Air Fryer Ribs are so easy to make and you’ll be surprised how well they turn out, with tender meat and perfect crispy edges. You have to give it a try to believe it!

air fryer ribs

My preferred method for making baby back ribs has always been oven-baking and smoking ribs, because it’s simple and produces the most tender, flavorful ribs, but once I started cooking ribs in the air fryer, I’m now of two minds when it comes to ribs.

No, they aren’t slow cooked or being smoked on the grill for hours – nothing can beat that – but they are pretty darn good for just 30 minutes. If you don’t have time for the other way, give this a try.

» You might also like these BBQ Beef Brisket Buns or Oven-Roasted Tri Tip Steak.

Why You’ll Love It

  • I will always adore oven-baked ribs and use that method whenever I have time for slow cooking. But these Air Fryer Ribs turn out so amazing after just 20 minutes in the air fryer. It’s so simple.
  • For the amount of time you’ll spend cooking these baby back ribs in the air fryer, you will be absolutely amazed at how well they turn out. For those of you who never thought to air fry ribs, this is your chance to see how to cook ribs in the air fryer.

Layla says: 5 stars They turned out amazing, with a great balance of crispy exterior and tender meat. Can’t wait to make them again!

Ingredients In This Dish

ingredients for air fryer ribs
  • Baby Back Ribs or Pork Ribs – This recipe cooks 1 rack of ribs, approx. 1 1/2 to 2 pounds in weight.
  • Dry rub – We use our own homemade dry rub. Use your favorite spice blend or try this homemade Cajun seasoning.
  • BBQ sauce – We use our own homemade bbq sauce. Use your favorite bbq sauce.

Here’s the thing – you can use any type of ribs you have, spare ribs, country ribs, pork ribs, baby back ribs, etc. You will just have to make sure they fit in your air fryer.

Equipment Needed

  • Air fryer: I use this 4-quart basket-style air fryer. It’s large enough to fit a meal for 4-6. But some things need more space in the air fryer basket, so they cook evenly.
  • Kitchen tongs: It’s very easy to remove food from your air fryer with kitchen tongs. I use these kitchen tongs that are silicon coated so they don’t scratch the interior.
  • Meat thermometer: The only way to tell if meat is fully cooked to the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer. I use this Instant Read thermometer. It’s so quick to open the basket and check the temp.

Since there are many different styles of air fryers these days, you never know! You will also have to adjust the cooking time to make sure they get cooked through.

Why Use an Air Fryer

An air fryer is an incredibly easy way to cook just about anything. You place the food in a fryer-style basket and hot air rapidly circulates all around the food, making the food crisp – much like deep-frying, but without the oil. You can cook anything you’d make in the oven.

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OUR RECOMMENDED AIR FRYER: Ninja MaxXL

air fryer ribs

BBQ Sauce & Dry Rub for Ribs

One of the keys to giving these air fryer pork ribs intense flavor is the dry rub. A perfectly balanced dry rub does wonders for flavor, but also seals in the juices and keeps the ribs from drying out. I swear by this BBQ rib rub.

It’s actually great on all types of meat, not just ribs. You’ll find that we use this rub in many recipes on this site (Tomahawk Pork Chops, Rack of Lamb, Chicken Legs, to name a few). But I think it adds just the right amount of spice to bbq ribs in the air fryer.

The second most important thing is the bbq sauce. We use this homemade Bourbon BBQ Sauce that is so tasty, you’ll be licking it off the spoon. Once you air fry the ribs, slather them with this sauce and set them on the highest setting for a few minutes and they crisp right up with a nice char that will make you think you’ve just cooked them on an open flame.

dry rib rub for meats and veggies

Air Fryer Baby Back Ribs – Tips

  • Start by cooking the ribs meat down and then flip them over to bone down halfway through cooking. This helps get a great browned sear on the top.
  • Cut the ribs in half if they will fit in your air fryer basket that way. If not, you can cut them into quarters. I just try to avoid cutting them any smaller than that because they get too crispy when they’re individual ribs.
  • Slather with BBQ sauce at the end of cooking and give them at least 3-5 more minutes on a high heat in order to get a nice crispy char on the top.
  • Use your favorite BBQ sauce. I love this homemade Bourbon BBQ Sauce.

How to Make Baby Back Ribs in the Air Fryer

1. Remove the Membrane (silver skin)

One thing you have to remember about preparing ribs is that there’s a thin silver skin or membrane along the back of the ribs. The membrane is a thick skin that holds the ribs together. It can be leathery and tough, so you want to remove it before cooking.

It’s not great to leave it on, because the ribs will be less tender and not as fun to eat.

To remove it is easy. Just turn the ribs over and look for a piece of the membrane around the edges of the meat that you can grab hold of. You can also slide a small knife blade between the silver skin and the ribs and pull up to loosen it.

Raw Ribs

It is silver in color and forms a very thin layer over the back. When you catch a piece, pull it back, like peeling off a piece of tape. If you get it just right, you can pull the entire membrane off in one piece. Here’s a pictorial to help.

Note: If you can’t locate the membrane, it’s possible the butcher has already removed it.

2. Add the Dry Rub

Next, sprinkle the dry rub across the ribs and rub it all over. Try our dry rub recipe. It’s easy to make and adds tons of flavor.

You can let it sit overnight in the refrigerator with the rub for even more flavor, but it’s not necessary.

Raw Ribs

The rub adds an extra layer of intense flavor to the ribs. I highly recommend using it. However, if you prefer, you can use a different rub that you like, or just use salt and pepper. Season the ribs liberally.

3. Air Fry the Baby Back Ribs

It’s important to pre-heat the air fryer before putting the ribs in to cook. This allows it to come up to temperature for even cooking, and it keeps the food from sticking to the basket. Set it to 380 degrees F (195 C).

I pre-heat for around 3-5 minutes. Once it’s heated, you can set the ribs into the basket. There’s no need to spray the basket with oil.

Ribs in the Air Fryer

You will need to cut the rack of ribs in half, or even in thirds, to fit it into the air fryer, depending on the size of your air fryer. I use a 4.5 quart air fryer and I can fit it when cut in half. The halves overlap a bit in the center, but that doesn’t affect the cooking.

Place meat side down in the air fryer tray and cook for 20 minutes, turning the ribs over after 10 minutes.

4. Baste the Ribs

After the 20 minutes is up, pull out the basket and baste the ribs on both sides with BBQ sauce. Return them, meat side up, to the air fryer.

Crank up the heat to 390 degrees F (200 degrees C) and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until they are a bit charred on top. Brush with additional BBQ sauce and serve.

Ribs in the Air Fryer

Questions About the Recipe

What temperature should ribs be cooked at in the air fryer?

In this recipe, we cook baby back ribs in the air fryer at 380° F for 20 minutes. The biggest decider of how long they must cook at this temperature is the size of the rack of ribs. A rack that is on the small side will likely take around 18 minutes, while a larger rack will take up to 30 minutes. If you cook two racks at once, add 5-8 minutes to the cooking time.

How long to cook ribs in the air fryer?

It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes for air frying ribs. It all depends on how large they are and how many you are cooking.

Should I cover ribs when cooking in the air fryer?

No. There’s no need to cover the ribs or put any parchment paper underneath them. The air fryer circulates air around the food to cook it evenly. Covering them will prevent the air flow.

How do you know when ribs are done in the air fryer?

The ribs are done when the internal temperature reaches 175° F (80° C). This is when the meat is tender, but not dried out. The meat won’t recede from the bone or fall apart like it does with slow cooking, so don’t use that as an indication.

Don’t ribs get more tender the longer you cook them?

Yes, ribs become more tender the longer they cook, which is why long, slow cooking is preferred to faster cooking like in the air fryer. However, this is a fast and easy preparation for ribs and the meat turns out juicy an tender without becoming dry.
If you’re looking for he most tender ribs, try our recipe for oven-baked bbq ribs. They cook for 2 hours in the oven and produce amazing falling-off-the-bone ribs.

Should ribs be cooked bone side up or down?

The bony side of the ribs should be facing up for the first 10 minutes of cooking. Then for the last half, you flip the ribs over and cook them with the boney side down. This allows for even cooking, and for crunchy bits to form on the top of the meat.

Other Great Rib Recipes to Try

Ribs

What to Serve With Baby Back Ribs

Other BBQ Recipes to Try

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air fryer ribs

Easy Air Fryer Ribs

Air Fryer Ribs are so easy to make and you'll be surprised how well they turn out, with tender meat and perfect crispy edges.
4.60 from 120 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2 Servings
Calories: 783kcal
Author: Laura Lynch

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of ribs 11/2 to 2 pounds, 1kg
  • 2 tablespoons (8 g) dry rub
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) bbq sauce 4 oz

Instructions

  • Preheat the air fryer to 380° F (195° C), for 5 minutes.
  • Peel off the silver membrane from the back of the ribs. Season the ribs with the dry rub on both sides.
  • Cut the rack of ribs in half to fit in the air fryer. Place meat side down in the air fryer tray and cook for 20 minutes, turning the ribs over halfway through the cooking.
  • After the 20 minutes is up, pull out the basket and baste the ribs on both sides with BBQ sauce. Return them, meat side up, to the air fryer. Crank up the heat to 390° F (200° C) and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until they are a bit charred on top.. Brush with additional BBQ sauce and serve.

Video

Notes

  • The amount of time needed to cook may vary depending on the size of your ribs and the size of your air fryer.
  • These times are for a 1.5 pound rack of pork baby back ribs cooked in a 4.8L air fryer.
  • You can cook up to 2 racks of ribs at a time in a large air fryer (5L or larger). You will need to cook them for 30 minutes, changing the arrangement of the pieces every 10 minutes
  • Start by cooking the ribs meat down and then flip them over to bone down halfway through cooking. This helps get a great browned sear on the top.
  • Cut the ribs in half if they will fit in your air fryer basket that way. If not, you can cut them into quarters. I just try to avoid cutting them any smaller than that because they get too crispy when they’re individual ribs.
  • Slather with BBQ sauce at the end of cooking and give them at least 3-5 more minutes on a high heat in order to get a nice crispy char on the top.

Nutrition

Calories: 783kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 841mg | Potassium: 629mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 303IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 5mg

58 thoughts on “Easy Air Fryer Ribs

  1. Rosemary says:

    Can’t go wrong with ribs. Though, quite curious and glad to read that you can make them in an air fryer. That’s easy and the way to go. Delish indeed.

  2. Paul says:

    This was out standing I just want to say leave the napkins on the shelf. You will find a way to get the sauce off your fingers

  3. Datdamwuf says:

    Little by little I’m being convinced to buy an air fryer as I sit here waiting for 2 hours to oven bake the ribs tonight

  4. Angela says:

    4 stars
    These were, not so great, they were cooked, but it was just blah cooked pork. Thanks for the idea but I wouldn’t make them again.

    • Laura says:

      Did you use the dry rub? I agree that they aren’t as good cooked in the air fryer as when they are smoked or slow cooked in the oven but they do still have a lot of flavor, thanks to the dry rub and the bbq sauce.

  5. Leeia says:

    I haven’t tried these yet. I’ve just ordered my new air fryer and I’m anxious to try. I wonder if they would be more tender if you cooked them in the instant pot and then crisped in the air fryer. No experience here just wondering.

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Angela, these ribs will be great cooked with just the dry rub. Only cook for 20 minutes though and then check to make sure they are done. The other 5 minutes is to preheat the air fryer. Enjoy!

  6. Kay says:

    5 stars
    I was suspicious…but it turned out delicious! I added in a metal strainer with chopped mushrooms on top of the ribs during the last 10 minutes as our side and they were great too. I did dry rub only and no complaints 🙂 thank you!

  7. Kaitlyn says:

    I tried this with the air fry option in my oven- unfortunately they were super tough and took way longer too 🙁

    • Laura says:

      Sure, you can stack them in the air fryer. Just make sure that you rotate them around as it’s cooking, so each piece gets evenly browned.

  8. Guru_87 says:

    Thank you for this incredible recipe! I love that I can enjoy delicious, restaurant-quality ribs at home thanks to my air fryer. This is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again and again.

  9. TesterTina says:

    5 stars
    These air fryer ribs look incredibly delicious! Can you please share how long it takes for the ribs to reach that perfect tenderness in the air fryer?

    • Angela Morris says:

      They are incredible. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes for air frying ribs. It all depends on how large the ribs are and how many you are cooking.

  10. Bobby says:

    5 stars
    I never knew you could make ribs in an air fryer, but this recipe has completely changed my mind. The ribs were perfectly cooked and had a delicious flavor.

  11. udinnifer says:

    Your easy air fryer ribs recipe is a game changer! I was wondering, can I use both baby back and spare ribs for this method, or do you recommend one over the other?

  12. Cameron says:

    The air fryer method is so much faster and easier than traditional methods, and the end result is just as delicious. My family loves them!

  13. Linus says:

    5 stars
    Loved your recipe! I didn’t have an air fryer, so I adapted it for my convection oven and still got amazing results. The ribs were juicy, tender, and full of flavor – a new favorite in my home!

  14. Jen says:

    5 stars
    I’ve always been intimidated by making ribs, but your air fryer recipe was so easy to follow and the ribs turned out perfectly.

    • Laura says:

      It’s unlikely you’d need to adjust the cook time, because only so many ribs will fit in the air fryer at one time.

  15. Hiba Weeks says:

    5 stars
    I made your air fryer ribs recipe with a few tweaks – I added a touch of honey to the marinade for a sweet twist and also sprinkled some sesame seeds on top before serving.

  16. Ball Jack says:

    4 stars
    Your air fryer ribs recipe was delicious! I decided to use beef ribs instead of pork and followed your instructions.

  17. kj-mr says:

    5 stars
    I tried your air fryer ribs recipe and absolutely loved it! I made a small change by using my own homemade BBQ sauce instead of store-bought, and it turned out fantastic. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. Fabienne says:

    Looks good, will definitely try this recipe. Do you think there would be any advantage to parboiling the ribs before dry rubbing?

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Fabienne, I have parboiled the ribs before. It does lead to more tender ribs, but it’s an extra step that I don’t really find necessary.

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Karen, these ribs are not pre-baked. They just go straight into the preheated air fryer basket. You could parboil them if you want but it will change the cooking time.

  19. Chris says:

    Will be using this recipe next week. I was only curious whether you could slow-cook them prior, and how that would change cooking times. any tips?

    • Angela Morris says:

      We haven’t tried slow-cooking them first, with this recipe, but you could definitely do that. You would only be using the air fryer to crisp them up and get some char on them. You wouldn’t need the full 20 minutes depending on how long you slow cook them. You might just need to skip to the park where you crank up the heat. Good luck and let us know how they come out!

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