Like so many lessons from the kitchen, I learned how to cook ribs in the oven by complete accident. Some time back in July, we had planned a big ol’ grillout one weekend. And, just like every other time that we’d planned to grill, it had started to rain. Not that drizzle type rain you can ignore, but the kind of rain that will simultaneously put out the fire and everyone’s enthusiasm. In fact, it actually swept away part of my driveway, which still has the potholes in it to prove just how miserable the weather really was! But since we already had everything we needed for a BBQ except, well, the BBQ, I was determined not to give up on my rib-tastic menu. So I did the only thing I could think of: threw the ribs in the oven!
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Actually those ribs turned out pretty good, but they weren’t as good as they could be. Not quite tender enough and a pretty unglamorous shade of gray. I’d averted a crisis – and hidden the color under BBQ sauce! – but I was determined to make these ribs better. Because why should we only be able to eat ribs in the summer? And what about those of us who don’t have the luxury of a grill or grilling space? Apartment dwellers need ribs, too! So I set off on my rib-makin’ mission! Come with me and learn how to make ribs in the oven… so you can have ribs, wherever you are!
How to prepare your ribs
First you’ll need to bring them to room temperature or close enough, by taking them out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you’re planning to cook. Then you need to preheat the oven to 225F while you prepare the ribs. You need to remove the white membrane on the back of the ribs as it will get kind of tough and chewy if you leave it on. This is really easy to do!
See that white layer on the back of the bones? That’s what we need to remove. Lay the ribs out on a large piece of aluminum foil.To get rid of the membrane, use a sharp knife and run it along a bone until you have made a little cut into the membrane. Then slide your knife into that hole, between the meat and the membrane, to widen it up. Then you need to slide your finger under the membrane and push up against it firmly. It will start to pull away from the meat. Keep widening that hole and pushing against the membrane until you are able to grab hold of it in your hand. It’s much, much easier to grip if you use a paper towel! Then just pull the membrane up and away from the meat and it should come right off! Discard that and flip the ribs over so they are meat side up.
Pat the ribs dry and season with your favorite dry rub. My ribs are a little green because I like to use a mixture of dried sage, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Next, cut the rack of ribs into three evenly sized sections and arrange them in the middle of the foil. Fold three of the foil sides up over the ribs so that you have made a little pocket – pour some apple juice or stock into this and then seal it by folding over the fourth and last side of the foil. Now tightly wrap the whole thing in another layer of foil and place it on a baking tray: your ribs are ready for the oven!
How to cook ribs in the oven
This is even easier! We’re going to slow cook them until they are super tender, all wrapped up. When the ribs are fork tender, all you need to do is remove them from the foil (save those juices for stock or soup later!) and put them on a baking tray. If your ribs are about 3 lbs, they’ll take about 3 hours 15 minutes and a 4 lb rack will take closer to 4 1/2 hours. Roughly speaking, they need to have at least 1 hour in the oven per pound, with about 15 – 30 minutes extra to make sure they’re super tender.
Then preheat the broiler on your oven while you use a BBQ mop to baste the ribs in whatever sauce you like. I usually make my own, but since I don’t have access to a Whole Foods or similar for brands like Tessemae’s, the best BBQ sauce I have found that is ready made is this one. It’s gluten free, non GMO and doesn’t contain either canola oil or high fructose corn syrup. Quite a few grocery stores seem to stock it and it’s available on Amazon.
Once your ribs are basted up and your broiler is hot, get them under the broiler. You want to broil them until the BBQ sauce begins to bubble, brown & caramelize, but not for so long that it starts to blacken or burn. The more sugar there is in your BBQ sauce, the quicker that burning can happen, so don’t leave the ribs unattended! Once they’re broiled to perfection, tuck in!
A few quick notes:
- I cut the ribs into thirds just because that makes them easier to handle later on when I’m basting and broiling. When they are laid out on the first layer of foil, just arrange them like they were a normal rack, in one layer, NOT like the picture of the final finished ribs which are stacked on top of each other.
- Lay the ribs out on the foil meat side up. This means that only the bone ends of the ribs are in the apple juice. We’re basically steaming the ribs, we don’t want them actually submerged in liquid while they’re cooking.
- Make sure that the foil layers are tightly sealed and overlap each other. We’re trying to keep the steam in there to keep the ribs tender.
Perfect Pork Ribs: How to cook ribs in the oven
Want fork-tender, fall off the bone ribs but you’re unable to grill? Let me show you how to cook ribs in the oven the easy way!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
- 4 lbs pork ribs
- 4 tbl of your favorite dry rub
- 5 oz apple juice or stock
- BBQ sauce to taste (This is the best store bought sauce that I have found so far)
- Remove ribs from refrigerator at least 30 – 60 minutes before you are ready to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 225F.
- Flip the ribs so that they are laying meat side down on a cutting board.
- Use a sharp knife and slide it under the white membrane on the back of the ribs so that the knife is between the meat and membrane. Cut a hole into the membrane.
- Use your fingers to slide under the membrane and pull it away from the meat. If it is hard to hold onto, use a paper towel for extra grip. Remove all of the outer membrane and discard.
- Flip the ribs so that they are now meat side up. Pat them dry.
- Press the dry rub onto the ribs so that they are evenly coated.
- Cut the rack of ribs into thirds.
- On a large piece of foil, place the ribs meat side up in the middle. Fold over 3 sides of the foil to create a pocket: pour the apple juice into this pocket and then fold over and seal the 4th side.
- Tightly wrap the ribs again in a 2nd layer of foil and place on a baking tray.
- Cook for 4 – 4 1/2 hours. The ribs are ready when you can pierce them easily with a fork.
- Remove the ribs from the oven and preheat the broiler.
- Unwrap the ribs and place them on a baking tray, meat side up. Use a BBQ mop to baste the ribs with BBQ sauce.
- Place the ribs under the broiler and broil until the BBQ sauce sauce is bubbling and browning. Watch carefully so that they do not burn – the more sugar there is in the BBQ sauce, the quicker that will happen.
- Remove from the broiler and serve.
Psssst! If you’re looking for an Autoimmune Protocol friendly version of this recipe, you should check out my all-AIP cookbook, Nourish!
This recipe for perfect oven baked ribs from Nourish: The Paleo Healing Cookbook is totally AIP, with a BBQ sauce that is totally nightshade free (no tomatoes, no peppers, no mustard!) and yet still tastes, looks and acts like “real” BBQ sauce.
Unlike fruit-based AIP BBQ sauces, you can use my Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce in place of your favorite BBQ sauce to make pulled pork, BBQ chicken, BBQ burgers and more!
As well as making a delicious condiment, it can be used on the grill, in the oven and under the broiler, too. There’s a reason it’s been nicknamed “awesomesauce”!
Check out Nourish: The Paleo Healing Cookbook here!
Didnt have Apple juice so I used 1/2 bottle Of Bud Light,Best ribs Iv”e ever had!Thanks for the good directions.
Well that’s ironic I’m working on a rib recipe too! Yours looks wonderful.
I am sure yours will be fantastic and look forward to seeing it! 🙂
I’m a little confused on the wrapping part. After cutting into 3rds are the three sections placed in the middle of the foil with all three stacked on one another? Also with the “pocket” at this point is the package standing vertical and is that how they cook? Sorry for these super novice questions but I am indeed a novice 🙂
No problem – next time I do this I’ll take pictures of this part because that would make it easier to understand 🙂 No, the ribs aren’t stacked. I only cut them into thirds because that makes them easier to serve up later. What you’re doing is laying the ribs in the very middle of the foil and then folding three sides of the foil up and over the ribs. Leave the side closest to you open. The only reason you’re doing that is so that you can pour in the juice or stock and not have it spill everywhere 🙂 Then you just fold the fourth side up over the ribs so everything is sealed into one package. Does that make sense? Feel free to ask any questions you like!
Looks delicious…gonna try this out today!!!
Do you wash the ribs prior to preparing them to the oven? Thanks for the wonderful recipe. Have a blessed day.
Nope, just pat them dry with some paper towel first so that the rub stays on the meat 🙂
I rinse the ribs in vinegar in the sink, then rinse off the vinegar with cold water. This gets rid of any sulphur or other smells the ribs can sometimes get. Now they have a nice clean bright flavor foundation on which to place your rub. Pat them dry with a paper towel and continue.
That’s really interesting, thanks!
Aww, that’s so sweet that someone is finally looking out for us apartment dwellers!! 🙂 God bless you and thank you for the recipe! I have some ribs in the freezer and I am definitely going to try this!
You are so welcome, I hope you love them 🙂
Hello! This recipe looks wonderful! Wondering if it would be the same process for beef ribs? Thank you!
I haven’t tried this out on beef ribs, but I think it should work just fine!
This was absolutely wonderful!! I will definitely make it again!! Thanks so much for sharing this!
Thank you, Cindy! Glad you enjoyed them 🙂
Would I have to adjust the oven temperature if I double the recipe and had 8lbs of ribs?
I wouldn’t adjust the temperature, but you may need to increase the cooking time to compensate.
What internal temp I’m I looking for on the meat?
That’s a good question and I’ll have to check that next time I make them! I always go by sight (the tips of the bones should be visible as the meat cooks and contracts) and texture – you should be able to pierce the meat with a fork easily when the ribs are done.
Pork should have a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F to be safe to eat.
Actually, the FDA lowered the recommended internal temperature for pork to 145F back in 2011 🙂 These ribs would certainly exceed the minimum temperature because of how long they’re cooked.
Thanks a bunch for the tips! I usually make country style ribs in the over, baked at 250 for 2 hrs 45 min and they are amazing. They even taste fantastic reheated the next day. But, unfortunately the recipe I’ve been using contains various nightshades (like most everything ribs does) and I’ve recently had to cut them out. My kids still want the same seasoning, but Id love a suggestion on how to season a few of them nightshade free. You mentioned a dry rub and I was wondering if you had any suggestions. I can do without nightshades, but I can’t do without really yummy ribs! Id go crazy! 🙂
Hi Lara! I’m still tinkering away with my AIP version, but I found this sauce recipe that might help you: http://aiplifestyle.com/bbq-chicken-sauce/
Who wants to live without ribs? Not me! 🙂
Excited to try these for the first time this weekend! I have a large family and probably need to make 8-10lbs. If I’m cooking two racks at 4+lbs each, would you suggest 225 for 9hrs? Or I don’t need to literally double the time, just increase to like 6 or 7 hours.
If you make double the recipe, but keep each rack of ribs on a separate tray and in a separate rack, you shouldn’t have to drastically double the cooking time. I’d say check them both after the allotted recipe time and see if they need a little bit longer – but it shouldn’t make a huge difference if the racks are about the same size as the recipe. Hope that helps!
I am cooking 10 racks at once in a regular gas oven. Do you have any advice on rack positioning, temperature and time adjustment?
I’m afraid not, since I use an electric convection oven myself and have no experience with gas – sorry!
You will need a rib rack to cook that many at once.
these are the best ribs i have ever made!!!! totally awesome!! it was actually my FIRST time cooking ribs but now i wanna make them all the damn time. i had a 2.5 lb rack but it was still enormous. i had to cook it for 4 hours for it to be tender. i used a “sauce” made from only a few ingredients- tomato paste, mustard, minced pineapple, and coconut aminos.
I”m going to try that sauce next Joanna.
Definately needs the sauce depending on what rub you use. Ribs were extremely tender and the bbq sauce takes it over tne edge. I used full spare ribs, 2 racks, baked for 3 hrs and the rib bones just pulled right out! Best ribs to my recolection. Will use this method as my first “go to” everytime I plan on doing ribs.
Glad this worked so well for you 🙂 And I totally agree about sauce! Yum!
I love ribs but have been without a grill for the past 4 years, so this looks perfect! About how many people would 4lbs of ribs feed? Keep up the amazing recipes =)
It depends on the type of ribs you use – roughly speaking, spare ribs will be just over 1 serving per pound, back ribs will be about 1 1/2 servings per pound and country ribs can be up to 2 servings per pound. Hope that helps! 🙂
How do you make your BBQ sauce? My ribs are cooking as we type haha!!! Thank you for the recipe I hope I did everything right!!!
Thanks for the question, because you’ve reminded me I need to get some more BBQ recipes up here! The only sauce recipe I have is a Peach Jalapeño version here – which is super embarrassing because OI a few years ago I was taking photos for the site on my phone, ha! You could try this sauce from Paleo Cupboard, or try this version from AIP Lifestyle if you’re following AIP 🙂
do you boil your ribs first?
Nope! There’s no need to if they’re cooked low in the oven like this 🙂
I dont have any apple juice, what else would you recommend? I was thinking vinegar and water :/
You could also try a little chicken or pork stock 🙂
These ribs are AWESOME!!! Tried a few different ways of making ribs in the oven and this is without doubt the best and easiest way. Didn’t have any bbq sauce on hand and used an ozzy plum sauce and it was incredible!
Defiantly worth a try
Awesome! So glad you liked them 🙂
Hi! Do you think hard apple cider would be an acceptable substitute for apple juice or stock? Really looking forward to trying this!
Absolutely! Then you’ll just have to drink the rest of the bottle 😉
If you insist! 😉
Cooked these. Used hard apple cider. Perfect ribs. Slow and low is the way to go!
Hard cider sounds like a great idea!
My wife and I had it almost figured out ourselves, ALMOST! Thanks for the helpful tips!
Yay, glad to help! 🙂
I always cook ribs and brisket in the oven because unlike an outdoor grill, I have total control on the temperature. But in my opinion, ribs aren’t that great if they’re not smoked. There are two BBQ religions – sauce or no sauce and I prefer no sauce. After fully cooking in the oven, I smoke them with fresh cut green mesquite on my charcoal grill for at least 2 hours. I first get my hot coals going and put the green mesquite on the coals and they start smoking.
Smoked BBQ is always the best. This recipe is really aimed at people who don’t have access to a grill or smoker as we are lucky enough to have.
I live in an apartment and I can’t imagine any apartment where you couldn’t at least have a small charcoal grill. If you know ho use it, you can have BBQ as good as anyone.
Lucky you! I’ve never lived in an apartment that allowed grills of any kind.
The recipe looks awesome, but this site is ridiculous. Every 30 seconds you get popped back up to the top because of a stupid ad. Very frustrating. I wont return to this site.
Hi Sarah, could you give me some extra info about this? That shouldn’t be happening and I’d like to figure out what is causing it and fix the issue. Are you viewing the site on your desktop or mobile? Is it a pop up, or is the site reloading, causing you to end up at the top of the post? Any additional information from you would help me troubleshoot whatever is clearly going wrong. Thanks so much! – Rach
We made one slab of baby back ribs this way for two of us and cooked them about 2.5 hours and didn’t have apple juice so used the juice from a fresh pineapple I had just cut. They were very good and we finished them off under broiler with sweet baby rays bbq sauce. Thanks!
Glad you enjoyed them!
I so want to make these this weekend