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Low-and-slow baked baby back ribs feature a zesty dry rub, sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, and tender, fall-off-the-bone meat! There’s no need to tend to a grill or a smoker, because the oven does all of the work. Serve the southern oven baked baby back ribs alongside coleslaw, cornbread, collard greens or mac and cheese for an easy dinner that the whole family will love!

Close up side shot of baked baby back ribs on a cutting board

Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs

Our family enjoys grilled or smoked ribs when Keith can devote the time and attention to the process; however, sometimes it’s rainy, the weather is cold, or we just don’t want to be tied to a grill or a smoker all day. That’s where these baked baby back ribs come into play! You don’t need a grill or a smoker to make tender, juicy and flavorful bbq ribs that just fall right off the bone. Instead, bake them in the oven for a simple, easy, hands-off meal. You can even finish them on the grill for a few minutes at the end if you really want to get some great char on the outside!

Why the Oven-Baked Method Works

These ribs are loaded with zesty BBQ flavor, since you’ll coat them in an easy dry rub first, then baste them with barbecue sauce at the end. The key to tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs is time. The low-and-slow cooking process allows the tough fibers and collagen (connective tissue) to break down, while the fat keeps the ribs moist and juicy. Just be patient and let the oven do its job for a couple of hours!

Should you cover baby back ribs in the oven?

Yes, as the ribs roast slowly in the oven, you want to keep them covered with foil so that the moisture is trapped inside the pan and the ribs don’t become dry. We’re going for juicy, succulent meat! You’ll remove the foil cover at the end, baste the ribs with bbq sauce, and then pop them under the broiler or onto the grill to achieve that crisp, caramelized exterior.

What are baby back ribs?

The two most common types of pork ribs are called baby back ribs and St. Louis-style spareribs. Baby back ribs, which we’re using here, are sometimes called pork loin back ribs, back ribs, or loin ribs. These ribs are the upper ribs that are cut from where the rib meets the spine after the loin is removed. Baby back ribs do not come from baby pigs! Instead, they get their name because they are shorter and thinner than spareribs. Baby back ribs are typically more expensive than spareribs, but I think they’re worth the cost because they’re generally leaner, more tender, and quicker cooking.

How many baby back ribs per person?

Each rack of baby back ribs averages 10-13 curved ribs that are about 4-6 inches long and weighs about 1 ½ – 2 pounds, which easily feeds 2 people as a main course. It’s safe to assume that you’ll need about 5-6 baby back ribs per person. We always need multiple racks of ribs to feed a family of 5!

How long does it take to cook ribs?

The baby back ribs require about 2 hours of cooking at 300°F. You can use the same method for larger spareribs, but you’ll need to increase the total baking time to about 3 hours.

Side shot of baked baby back ribs on a cutting board in front of a brick wall

Ingredients for Oven Roasted Ribs

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for bbq baby back ribs. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Baby back ribs: I use two racks for a family of 4-5, but you can scale the amount up or down according to the number of people you’re serving.
  • Dry rub: We love this homemade bbq rub, which is versatile and easy to stir together. If you prefer, you can substitute with a store-bought dry rub of your choice.
  • Barbecue sauce: Again, use your favorite homemade recipe or use a high-quality store-bought version.

Dry Rub

A delicious dry rub is crucial for the best ribs! The dry rub helps to create a crust on the outside of the meat, and infuses the ribs with zesty, sweet and smoky barbecue flavor. I always use this simple bbq rub, which is a combination of brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. You can make it spicy by adding cayenne, if you like. Stir together a batch, use some of it on the ribs, and then store the rest in an airtight container in the pantry to use on chicken, pork or beef in the future. It’s a staple in our house!

Spoon scooping up homemade BBQ rub

How to Cook Baby Back Ribs in the Oven

Of course, ribs taste amazing when they’re slowly smoked; however, long cook times on a grill are not the only way to achieve succulent, juicy, and tender ribs. There’s something to be said for oven roasted baby back ribs that require almost no effort at all. You’re going to love the easy oven method! In a couple of hours, the meat is fork tender and finger-lickin’ good.

  1. Stir together the seasoning for the dry rub in a small bowl.
  2. Prepare the ribs by removing the membrane (or “silverskin”) that’s attached to the bony backside of the ribs. Sometimes the butcher does this for you, but if not, it’s best to remove the membrane before cooking.
  3. Pat the ribs dry and season with dry rub on all sides.
  4. Let the ribs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  5. Place the ribs on a foil-lined baking tray and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake the ribs in foil at 300°F for about 2 hours. Smaller racks may be done in as little as 1 ½ hours, while larger racks or racks that are cold when they go into the oven may require about 2 ½ hours.
  7. Remove the foil and baste the ribs on all sides with barbecue sauce.
  8. Place the dish under the broiler and cook for 3-5 more minutes, or until the sauce starts to caramelize and bubble on top.
  9. Let the ribs rest for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Process shot showing how to cook baby back ribs with dry rub in the oven
Basting pork baby back ribs with barbecue sauce

How to Tell When Ribs are Done

You know the oven-baked ribs are done when they reach an internal temperature of 190 to 203°F, because the collagens and fats melt at this temp and make the meat more tender and juicy. A butter knife should slide easily into the thickest part of the rib meat, the meat should be tender (not chewy or tough), and will draw back in some places so that you’ll see bone sticking out.

Overhead shot of a rack of baked baby back ribs on a tray

What to Serve with Oven Roasted Ribs

You definitely want to offer some extra barbecue sauce on the side for dipping! Baked fall off the bone baby back ribs also pair perfectly with just about any classic Southern extras. Here are some of our favorite side dishes:

Storage

When properly stored, the cooked pork ribs will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze any leftovers (or just the meat pulled off the bones) in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Recipe Variations

  • Add cayenne pepper or ground black pepper to the dry rub for a spicy kick. Cumin gives the dry rub a smoky flavor, too.
  • Use homemade barbecue sauce or a store-bought dry rub.
  • Use St. Louis-style spareribs instead of baby back ribs. The cooking method is the same, you’ll just need to increase the total baking time to at least 3 hours.
  • To finish the ribs on the grill (rather than under the broiler), roast the ribs until tender, baste with barbecue sauce, and then transfer to a very hot grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the outside of the ribs is nicely caramelized, crispy and charred.
Front shot of a tray of baby back ribs in oven

Tips for the Best Baked Baby Back Ribs Recipe

  • Don’t be shy with the dry rub! I use about ¼ cup on each side of a rack (not just a couple of tablespoons), for a total of about 1 cup on two racks. You need a lot of seasoning to penetrate and flavor the meat as it slowly roasts.
  • Let the ribs come to room temperature on the counter for about 30 minutes before baking. This helps them cook evenly. If you put cold ribs in the oven, you will likely need to increase the baking time.
  • Wrap the ribs in foil while they bake. Sometimes referred to as the “Texas Crutch,” the foil cover helps speed the cooking process, ensures that the meat is tender, and prevents the ribs from drying out.
  • The total cooking time will vary, so check your ribs towards the end. Two hours is a general suggestion, but smaller racks may be done in as little as 1 ½ hours, while larger racks or racks that are cold when they go into the oven may require about 2 ½ hours.
  • For sticky ribs with a great finish, take the extra few minutes to baste them with bbq sauce and pop them under the broiler or onto the grill. Broiling the sauce causes the mixture to boil on the surface of the ribs, releasing moisture and creating a thicker, stickier coating. The thick sauce adheres better to the meat and the flavor is more concentrated.
Close up shot of oven baked baby back ribs on a cutting board with a side of sauce

More BBQ Recipes to Try

Square shot of oven roasted ribs

Baked Baby Back Ribs

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Resting Time 40 minutes
Total: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 724 kcal
Low-and-slow baked baby back ribs feature a zesty dry rub, sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, and tender, fall-off-the-bone meat!

Ingredients
  

FOR THE DRY RUB:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • cup smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 8 teaspoons chili powder
  • 8 teaspoons onion powder
  • 8 teaspoons garlic powder

FOR THE RIBS:

  • 2 racks baby back ribs (about 3 ½ lbs. total)
  • 1 cup bbq dry rub
  • Barbecue sauce, for basting and serving

Instructions

  • Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the ingredients for the dry rub. Set aside.
  • Prepare the ribs by removing the shiny, thin membrane (or silverskin) that covers most of the backside of the ribs. To do so, use a knife or fingernail to pry up a corner of the thin membrane from one edge of the ribs. Grab that with a paper towel (for grip) and slowly pull it up. Once a good portion of the membrane is free, you should be able to pull the rest off in one quick motion.
  • Pat the ribs dry and rub the bbq dry rub onto both sides of the ribs (store any extra dry rub in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 6 months). Let the ribs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (or you can do this step up to 24 hours in advance, just keep the ribs covered in the refrigerator).
  • Place the ribs on the baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil. Transfer to the oven and roast until the ribs are done and a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the meat, about 2 hours.
  • Remove from the oven. Turn the oven to broil. Brush both sides of the ribs with barbecue sauce and broil until the sauce starts to bubble and caramelize, about 3-5 minutes. Alternatively, you can transfer the ribs to the grill for 3-5 minutes per side to achieve the same caramelized exterior.
  • Let the ribs rest for about 10 minutes. Cut between the bones to separate the individual ribs. Serve with extra barbecue sauce for dipping.

Notes

  • Don’t be shy with the dry rub! I use about ¼ cup on each side of a rack, for a total of about 1 cup on two racks. You need a lot of seasoning to penetrate and flavor the meat as it slowly roasts.
  • Let the ribs come to room temperature on the counter for about 30 minutes before baking. This helps them cook evenly. If you put cold ribs in the oven, you will likely need to increase the baking time.
  • Wrap the ribs in foil while they bake. Sometimes referred to as the “Texas Crutch,” the foil cover helps speed the cooking process, ensures that the meat is tender, and prevents the ribs from drying out.
  • The total cooking time will vary, so check your ribs towards the end. Two hours is a general suggestion, but smaller racks may be done in as little as 1 ½ hours, while larger racks or racks that are cold when they go into the oven may require about 2 ½ hours.
  • For sticky ribs with a great finish, take the extra few minutes to baste them with bbq sauce and pop them under the broiler or onto the grill. Broiling the sauce causes the mixture to boil on the surface of the ribs, releasing moisture and creating a thicker, stickier coating. The thick sauce adheres better to the meat and the flavor is more concentrated.
  • Add cayenne to the dry rub for a spicy kick.
  • Use St. Louis-style spareribs instead of baby back ribs. The cooking method is the same, you’ll just need to increase the total baking time to at least 3 hours.
  • To finish the ribs on the grill (rather than under the broiler), roast the ribs until tender, baste with barbecue sauce, and then transfer to a very hot grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the outside of the ribs is nicely caramelized, crispy and charred.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 724kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 52gFat: 44gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 183mgSodium: 966mgPotassium: 855mgFiber: 2gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 1834IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 122mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: baby back ribs recipe, baked baby back ribs, bbq ribs, oven roasted ribs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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