rack of ribs baked in the oven

One of my husband’s love languages is smoking meat, and I can’t deny that a rack of ribs smoked low and slow over hickory wood chips is a total treat.

Since most people don’t own a smoker though, I’m sharing my recipe for oven-baked ribs that is BEYOND delicious and easy. Yes, you can get lip-smackin’, finger-lickin’-good ribs that fall off the bone from your oven.

Every time I make these I’m stunned over how delicious they are. They come out perfect every single time!

Watch How to Make Them

Ribs in the Oven

I place Easy Baked Ribs in the same category as slow cooker recipes because they’re completely prep-ahead then bake low and slow in the oven so I’m free to do just about anything else. They’re a hit for busy sports nights when the kids come home starving, or have activities at different times and need to stagger dinner, as the ribs are good hot or warm.

Seasoned with everyday spices, baked for hours, then slathered with BBQ sauce — these oven ribs are succulent, fall apart-tender, and truly the easiest rib recipe you’ll ever make.

sliced oven baked ribs on a cutting board

4 Main Types of Ribs

To be clear, this method for baking ribs in the oven is for pork ribs, not beef ribs. When you go to the grocery store there are several types of pork ribs to choose from and it can feel confusing, for sure! That said, please take your seat for Pork Rib 101 where I’ll review the 4 main types of ribs you’ll find at the store.

  1. Baby Back Ribs (aka Back Ribs or Loin Ribs): are from the upper rib cage connected to the back bone. This cut contains 11-13 ribs and has a natural curve to it. The ribs shown in these photos are baby back ribs (and are not taken from baby pigs, as the name might imply.) You’ll typically find back ribs in 2 — 3lb portions which feeds 2-3 people.
  2. Spare Ribs (aka Side Ribs): are the portion of ribs further down the belly towards the breastbone. This cut of ribs contains larger bones and more meat between the bones, vs baby back ribs where the majority of the meat is on top of the bones. This cut of ribs can come with extra cartilage and bones (aka rib tips) which aren’t very appetizing to bite down on, imo. Spare ribs take longer to cook than back ribs, though they can be used in this recipe.
  3. St. Louis Ribs: are spare ribs with the aforementioned cartilage and extra bones sliced off.
  4. Country Style Ribs: aren’t actually ribs — they’re cut from pork shoulder and are very meaty.

baked ribs on a plate with salad and corn

How to Choose Good Baby Back Ribs

Whether you’re baking, grilling or smoking them — here are two main considerations to keep in mind when choosing a rack of back ribs at the store:

  • Meat on top: look for baby back ribs with a good amount of meat on top of the ribs because back ribs don’t have a ton of meat between each rib bone.
  • Fat: look for a rack of ribs with a good amount of fat. Pork fat = FLAVOR! You can trim any larger pieces off, but fat gives ribs their mouthwatering flavor and texture.

In general, a 2-1/2 — 3lb rack of baby back ribs will feed 2-3 people so I bake two racks of ribs to comfortably feed by family of 5.

I think making ribs at home is something a lot of people find intimidating but honestly it couldn’t be simpler — I’ll show you how!

hand holding an oven baked rib

How to Bake Ribs in the Oven

Step 1: Trim the ribs.

Start with a 2-1/2 — 3lb rack of baby back ribs. Again, look for ribs with a lot of meat on top of the bones AND a good amount of fat. If there are large pieces of fat on top, feel free to trim them away.

Blot the ribs all over with paper towels to dry them completely.

rack of ribs on a cutting board

Step 2: Peel away the silver skin.

On the back of the ribs is a connective tissue layer called silver skin. The tissue is hard to bite through and needs to be removed before cooking the ribs no matter the method. Sometimes it’s already been removed by the processor but sometimes it hasn’t.

Silver skin has a purply-white color (silver, I guess, lol) and is not hard to remove. If present, stick a pairing knife underneath the silver skin between two rib bones near one end of the rib rack then use a paper towel, if necessary, to get a good grip and peel it away from the length of the ribs.

All easy from here on out!

hand peeling the silver skin from a rack of ribs

Step 3: Season the ribs.

Next, stir together a homemade seasoning mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and a little cayenne pepper (optional) in a small bowl.

Sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the ribs then rub to coat with your fingers. Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap then refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours. You can place the ribs on the baking sheet we’ll use to bake them on, or on a tray — it doesn’t matter.

seasoned ribs wrapped in saran wrap

Step 4: Cover then bake.

When it’s time to bake, unwrap the ribs then place them on a foil-lined, nonstick-sprayed baking sheet. If baking more than one rack, give them each their own baking sheet.

Cover the ribs tightly with foil then bake for 3-1/2 hours. If your rack of ribs is larger than 3lbs, add an additional 30 minutes baking time per additional 1/2 — 1lb ribs. For example, bake a 3 — 4lb rack of ribs for 4 hours.

seasoned rib rack on a baking sheet

Carefully remove the foil on top of the baking pan then drain off any excess liquid that might be present.

rack of baked ribs on a baking sheet

Step 5: Slather with BBQ sauce.

Slather the tops of the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce then bake for an additional 30 minutes to get a caramelized, lacquered top. Personally I like to go with a sweeter BBQ sauce like Stubb’s Sticky Sweet BBQ Sauce.

BBQ glazed ribs on a baking sheet

The scent wafting from the oven is unlike anything else!

ribs baking in the oven

Step 6: Rest, Slice, then Serve

Let the ribs rest for 15 minutes or so before slicing and serving. I’m telling you — the meat completely falls off the bone. So tasty and tender!

Whether you’re serving ribs at a summer cookout, the middle of winter, or anytime in between, I hope you love every last drop of these tender and truly delicious oven baked ribs — enjoy!

plate with sliced oven baked ribs

Serve these recipes with your ribs!

Easy Baked Ribs

Description

Easy Baked Ribs are, you guessed it…easy! Succulent, juicy, and fall-off-the-bone-tender, too. Cook ribs in the oven if you don’t own a smoker or grill!

Ingredients

serves 2-3

  • 1 slab baby back ribs, 2-1/2 — 3lbs total
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, or more or less (ie, you can eyeball it!)
  • For the spice rub:
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

Directions

  1. Line a half sheet pan with foil then set aside.
  2. Peel the silver skin away from the back of the rib rack if present then trim off any large pieces of excess fat. Fat adds flavor so you want to leave a good portion on, though if there is very thick/excess fat, feel free to trim it off.
  3. For the spice rub: add the ingredients to a small bowl then stir to combine. Sprinkle half the mixture over the top of the ribs then rub to coat. Flip the ribs over then sprinkle on the remaining seasonings and rub to coat. Wrap the ribs in saran wrap then place onto the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees then unwrap the ribs and place them directly onto the foil. Cover the ribs tightly with another piece of foil then bake for 3-1/2 hours (see notes if your rib rack is larger). Carefully remove the top piece of foil then drain away any excess liquid from the sheet pan if there is any.
  5. Brush the BBQ sauce over the top of the ribs then bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the top is caramelized.
  6. Let the ribs rest for 15 minutes then slice and serve.

Notes

  • If your rack of ribs is larger than 3lbs, add an additional 30 minutes baking time per each additional 1/2 — 1lb ribs. For example, I bake a 3-1/2lb rack of ribs for 4 hours.
  • If you are cooking more than one rack of ribs, separate each rack on it's on baking sheet then rotate the ribs halfway through baking time.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Video

phot collage of easy baked ribs

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin