These super easy Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs turn tedious fire-pit cooking into a simple indoor process that delivers fall-apart baby back ribs every time.
If you don’t have an outdoor grill, or it’s the middle of winter and you don’t want to uncover the grill and stand out in the rain, this recipe is a fantastic alternative that makes a really good rack of ribs indoors with very little mess and fuss.
Barbecue meat, especially baby back ribs, is one of the true pleasures in life, but cooking low and slow over a fire pit for hours on end is not so pleasurable. Oven-baking ribs them leads to a perfect rack of ribs every time, with half the fuss. This roasted rack of lamb comes out wonderfully as well.
But What If I Want to Cook on the Grill?
I make these ribs for family outdoor barbecues all the time. The secret is to cook them in the oven at home, so they’re just about ready. Then you can then slap them on the grill and baste them with BBQ Sauce to get that delicious charred finish.
This is a much easier way to make ribs for a party, when fully cooking multiple slabs of ribs for a party would take a tedious amount of time and grill space. Doing it this way allows you prepare the ribs ahead of time and just finish them on the grill, saving tons of time.
Cooking ribs in the oven on a low heat for a few hours produces incredibly tender meat that is falling off the bone, just like you’d expect from cooking for hours on a bbq pit.
But super tender meat is only one part of the equation. The key to giving these ribs intense flavor is in 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. But I think it adds just the right amount of spice to the ribs.
Baby back ribs in the oven are just about the easiest way to make ribs and still have that fall-apart goodness you love. I actually prefer baked baby back ribs to grilled now. The texture is just perfect.
The only thing you can’t really have with baked ribs is the delicious char of the grill. So if you’re not planning to finish them up on the grill, you’ll want to broil them to add char to the top.
How to Make Baby Back Ribs in the Oven
Here’s a quick overview video of how to prepare and bake these baby back ribs.
1. Remove the 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 that must be removed. The membrane is a thick skin that will prevent the ribs from actually falling off the bone.
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.
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 a 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.
The rub adds an extra layer of intense flavor to the ribs. I highly recommend using it. However, if you prefer, you can just use salt and pepper. Season the ribs liberally.
3. Bake the Baby Back Ribs
To make baked baby back ribs in the oven, you need to create the perfect environment for them to steam cook.
Cut off a piece of tin foil that’s large enough to make a packet for the ribs. They need to be completely encased in the foil. Crimp the edges together to keep the steam in. This is how the ribs become so tender.
Place the baking sheet in the oven at 275° F. This is a bit of a set it and forget it exercise. The exact amount of time it needs to cook depends a great deal on the size of the rack of ribs you’re cooking.
It will take around 2 to 2.5 hours for a small rack or ribs.
Medium rack will take around 3 hours. A large rack could take up to 4 hours.
It needs to cook in the oven for a minimum of 2 hours before you check it for the first time. After that time, give it a peek.
The meat should have significantly pulled back from the edges of the bones. If you’re not sure if it’s done, insert a fork into the meat and give it a gentle tug. It should give easily.
If it doesn’t, put it back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Remember, it could take up to 4 hours to cook the ribs to perfection, depending on the size of the ribs you’re cooking.
Be careful not to over do it. It’s harder to pick up the bones to eat when it’s too tender.
4. Add BBQ Sauce
When done, remove the ribs from the tin foil and discard the juices. Slather the ribs with BBQ sauce (be sure to check out our recipe for homemade Bourbon BBQ sauce – it’s to die for!).
For me, BBQ sauce is absolutely necessary on baby back ribs. It’s the sauce that seals in the juices and boosts the flavor. When making these ribs in the oven you might lament the lack of char that you get on the grill. But don’t worry, we’ve got a fix for that.
5. Broil or Grill
Place the ribs under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it, in case of flare ups. I like to give them a second dose of sauce and put them back under the broiler for another 3-5 minutes, to fully caramelize the sauce. If you’re in a hurry, the second time isn’t necessary.
If you want to grill them instead of broiling, just slap the ribs, basted with BBQ sauce, meat side up on a hot grill and close the lid. Allow them to get a little char around the edges before basting again. It’ll take about 5-10 minutes to get a really great caramelized crust on the top.
The ribs will come out with a slight char on the sauce that makes them look and taste more like they’ve been on the grill. This adds to the intensity of the flavors.
The best part about this recipe is that it’s incredibly scale-able. You can make one rack for one or two people, or even make 4 or 5 at a time to feed a crowd. This recipe can also be used with spare ribs. You’ll just need to extend the baking time by 30-60 minutes depending on the size of the ribs.
Oven-Baking Baby Back Ribs – FAQs
In this recipe, we cook baby back ribs in the oven at 275 degrees F for 2-3 hours. 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 2 hours, while a larger rack will take up to 3 hours.
Yes, it’s always best to cover the ribs when cooking in the oven, to keep them from drying out. Making a packet out of tin foil and cooking the ribs in the packet will produce perfect ribs every time.
You will know it’s done when the meat has pulled back significantly from the bone and the bone easily pulls free from the meat when tugged.
Yes, ribs will become more tender the longer they cook, but there is also a point where they will stop becoming tender and will dry out.
If you’re looking for the most tender meat without drying, check the meat every 10 minutes near the end of cooking, by tugging on the bone to see how easily it comes away from the meat. Eventually it will fall right off the bone. After that point, the meat will begin drying out.
The bony side of the ribs should always be cooking facing down; the meaty side facing up. This keeps the meat from directly touching the pan, which would dry it out as it cooks.
What to Serve With Baby Back Ribs
Looking for a side dish to serve with these ribs? Why not try one of these:
Other BBQ Recipes to Try
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Easy Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs
- Pre-heat the oven to 275F.
- Rinse and pat the ribs dry with a paper towel. Remove the silver skin membrane.
- Coat the ribs in dry rub.
- Wrap the ribs in foil on a baking sheet, being sure to seal the edges tightly.
- Cook for 2 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat pulls back from the bone and becomes fork tender. Continue cooking until the bone gives easily when pulled (up to 4 hours for larger rack of ribs).
- Peel back the foil and discard any juices. Coat the ribs with BBQ sauce.
- Set the oven to broil. When hot, place the baking tray under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. Repeat with an additional layer of bbq sauce, if desired. Serve the ribs.
- To bake more racks of ribs at a time, use a larger baking pan or two separate pans.
- The cooking time will vary based on the size of the rack of ribs you’re cooking. Check the meat at 2 hours and continue cooking in 20-30 minute increments until the bone easily pulls away from the meat.