Even without a smoker you can still enjoy fall-off-the-bone tender ribs at home. Use this easy recipe for how to cook ribs in the oven and enjoy baked ribs any time!
Ribs are one of those things that people don’t often realize can be made at home. And if they do think about it, it seems to be difficult or unattainable. Let me tell you though, learning how to cook ribs in the oven will totally change your barbecue game. It’s surprisingly simple to do and in just a few hours you have restaurant quality ribs at home!
How To Remove The Membrane From the Ribs
To truly get “falling off the bone tender” ribs, you need to address the membrane.
The membrane is the thin layer of silver skin running along the backside of the ribs that helps hold them together. If left on, it prevents the rub or sauce from flavoring the meat and can make the ribs curl during cooking. Also, if nothing is done with the membrane, it becomes tough when cooked. This prevents the tender ribs you’re going for and instead makes them chewy.
There are specialty tools for removing the membrane, but any long and blunt utensil will do well enough. I like to use my finger or the rounded end of a rubber spatula. The membrane peels off surprisingly easy once you have a hold of it.
The thing to avoid is a knife. If you lift the knife during the initial insertion it can cut the membrane and make it difficult to remove. Once it breaks into smaller pieces it often feels like you’re chasing them around the ribs. However, if you get one side of the membrane lifted at once, it peels away with one quick motion.
To remove the membrane from the ribs, use your finger or something rounded like the end of a rubber spatula.
With the ribs lying in front of you horizontally, find the edge of the membrane between the first and second rib. Stick your finger all the way through from the bottom to top. Gently lift your hand up until the membrane breaks away from the bones. Grab the membrane and pull it from one side of the rack of ribs to the other to remove it.
Do I Have To Remove The Membrane?
If you are struggling to remove the membrane, or you just don’t want to, you can score it instead. Simply run a sharp knife on a diagonal every 1-2 inches. Repeat going the opposite direction so a crisscross pattern is formed.
Scoring won’t completely cure the chewiness of oven baked ribs. However, breaking up the membrane keeps them from curling. It also makes them more tender than if you had left it intact.
What Kind Of Ribs Should I Make?
This oven baked ribs recipe uses baby back ribs because they are more tender than spare ribs. Plus, the smaller size of baby back ribs cooks faster.
This method works well on both types, but spare ribs tend to be larger and more tough. With extra time slow cooking in the oven (about 1-2 hours longer) you achieve the same result and get them tender.
Professional Tips For Making Them Even Better
The best trick for getting fall off the bone tender ribs is time. You want to cook them low and slow to get the meat juicy and delectable. To help get even better flavor out of this oven baked ribs recipe, try one of these tips below.
- Use a really good, flavorful dry rub. This dry rub recipe has a brown sugar foundation, but adds in dry mustard and coriander for a bright, smoky flavor. Just make sure your dry rub has brown sugar in it for caramelization.
- Even though the dry rub most likely has some salt and pepper in it, you should still season the meat first. Add the dry rub afterwards.
- Get comfortable with your broiler because that is how you get the caramelization on the bbq sauce. Occasionally, baking sheets kept that close to the heat source warp, so you may hear a loud popping sound during broiling. Don't stress, they usually go back to normal once they cool.
How To Cook Ribs In The Oven Without Making A Mess
Don’t be afraid to use extra aluminum foil to get a tight seal around the oven baked ribs. If it isn’t tight enough, the juices will leak out of the foil and onto your baking sheet. Not only is it a difficult mess to clean, but it is likely to make your oven baked ribs dry out. They need those juices to stay in the foil to provide moisture.
For the best success, I recommend overlapping three layers of aluminum foil instead of one. Once overlapped, fold the layers together (don’t scrunch or crimp them) so it becomes one large sheet. Place the ribs meat side down in the middle and bring the sides up and around it. This makes it less likely to leak because the folds are lifted up away from the pooled juices.
Easy, Melt In Your Mouth Oven Baked Ribs Recipe
One of the great things about oven baked ribs is that you have a lot of creative control over the flavor. As a result, the recipe is fairly vague and focuses more on the technique of how to cook ribs in the oven. Feel free to use any of my bbq sauce or dry rub recipes, or try something of your own. You can even change up the types of liquid smoke you use for alternative flavors! (Although hickory is probably the most common.)
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Happy Cooking! 🙂
How To Cook Amazing Ribs In The Oven
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Remove the membrane from the bony side of the ribs and pat the ribs dry with a paper towel.
- Season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper the coat it with the dry rub. Don't forget to get around the edges of the rack of ribs as well.
- Fold together three sheets of aluminum foil to make one large sheet. Place the ribs meat side down in the middle and wrap it in the foil. Fold or crimp the edges to create a tight seal. *If adding the liquid smoke, lightly place drops on the aluminum foil around the ribs before sealing it shut.
- Bake for 2 - 2 ½ hours or until the meat shrinks away from the edges of the bone.* Remove from the oven and turn the broiler on medium.
- Open the aluminum foil and brush the oven baked ribs with half of the barbecue sauce. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce begins to brown and is bubbly. Flip and repeat on the other side.
- Cut the ribs into 2-3 rib portions and serve.
- * To tell if the ribs are done, try picking up one side of the ribs with a pair of tongs. If it starts to bend and break apart between the 5th and 6th rib, they are tender and done. If the meat is pulling away from the bony side of the ribs as well as the edges, it's probably overcooked.
- The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145°F for pork. However, don't be alarmed if your ribs get up in the low 200's. This is the temperature when the fat and collagen that binds the ribs together begins to break down, causing that melt in your mouth texture.