How to Make Tender and Juicy Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs
No grill or smoker? No problem! Here's how to make mouth-watering BBQ pork spare ribs that are baked in the oven. They're not only shockingly delicious, but also incredibly easy to prepare. And if you pair them with homemade cornbread and coleslaw, you've got a memorable meal on your hands.
Even if you're a die-hard fan of grilling and smoking, these oven ribs can give them a serious run for their money. And the best part is, you can enjoy them anytime, anywhere, regardless of the season or weather.
What sets this recipe apart is the perfectly glazed sauce with no burning, and the truly tender meat that's never dry or overcooked. You only need three basic ingredients: spare ribs, salt, and barbecue sauce. Feel free to use your favorite store-bought sauce or make your own from scratch. The cooking process is also a breeze - simply bake the pork ribs in one pan in the oven, without any fancy equipment.
For best results, use St. Louis style spare ribs, which are the meatiest and most satisfying to eat. To prepare them, season the meat with salt, cut the racks into individual ribs, and baste them with sauce. Then bake them while covered, basting two more times, and cook uncovered for the final hour at a higher temperature.
It's as simple as that! With a little bit of patience and attention to detail, you too can become a spare rib master. And who knows, your friends and family might never want to order ribs at a restaurant again.
In case you desire to add more flavors, such as black pepper, Sazon Seasoning, or a dry rub, you may go ahead, but it is not compulsory. Keep in mind that most barbecue sauces already hold ample ingredients and taste.
If you opt for adding spices, choose rubs that contain key ingredients like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder or paprika. Alternatively, if you fancy some Carolina-style barbecue sauce, you can supplement dry mustard.
To divide the racks into individual pieces, slice inbetween the bones.
Place the pork spare ribs onto a rimmed half sheet pan and sprinkle your preferred barbecue sauce over it, about 1 cup would be fine.
If time allows, try my homemade BBQ sauce recipe that takes only 20 minutes to prepare and possesses a rich, smoky, sweet, and spicy essence. Otherwise, you can use a store-bought one for convenience.
Coat every bone rib with the sauce by tossing them together until they are uniformly covered.
Put the BBQ spare ribs onto the rimmed baking sheet in a single stratum, making sure that the meaty portion is on top.
Cover the pan with heavy-duty foil, making sure to seal the edges tightly to avoid any leakage.
Place the spare ribs in the oven set to 300 degrees F and bake for an hour and 45 minutes. Subsequently, take off the aluminum foil, and the oven-baked ribs should appear like this:
- It is standard for them to have little brightness at this stage.
- Use half the leftover barbecue sauce to apply a coating on the ribs.
To enhance the flavor of your spare ribs, turn up the oven temperature to 350F and let it bake uncovered for 30 minutes. You should begin to see some caramelization on the edges of the ribs, but don't fret as they need more sauce.
It's time to baste your ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce, which should equal about 1/3 cup. Stick it back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes, and then you'll be able to see a wonderful glaze on the ribs from the sweet sauce. I personally prefer my ribs to be sticky and glazed rather than saucy.
For optimal caramelization and glaze, slow-cooking in the oven is essential when making sauces that use a lot of dark brown sugar, molasses, or other sweeteners.
Now that the delicious ribs are ready, it's time to serve them with your favorite sides. To spice things up, try out the sticky Chinese spare ribs recipe, another one of my all-time favorites.
As for the kind of pork ribs you use, any variety will suffice, but I prefer St. Louis style because of their uniform shape and the fact that they are nicely cleaned up with the breastbone and cartilage removed. If you opt for baby back or country-style ribs, the cooking time should be roughly the same, but keep an eye on their tenderness.
After enjoying your feast, keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze them for up to 2 months. To reheat, use a 300F oven or the microwave, but make sure you thaw frozen ribs in the fridge overnight before reheating. And if you want to double the recipe, you can use two pans and have multiple racks in your oven without any additional cooking time.
Are there benefits to creating homemade barbecue sauce? Personally, I believe so, although the convenience of purchasing pre-made sauce can be difficult to resist. Since the glaze soaks into the meat during cooking, it may not be as evident in the end product as it is when served with homemade sauce. Therefore, it's understandable if you opt for a store-bought bottle.
If you want to achieve a smoky flavor with oven-made ribs, you can select a barbecue sauce with liquid smoke, or add a spice rub with smoked jalapeno peppers, such as ground chipotle.
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- - 4 to 5 lbs of St. Louis-style pork spare ribs (2 racks)
- - 2 tsp of kosher salt
- - 18 oz of BBQ sauce (either homemade or store-bought)
- Suggested Side Dishes to Pair with Ribs:
- - Cornbread
- - Coleslaw
- - Mac and cheese bites
- - Red potato salad
Remove the ribs from the packaging and dry them well with paper towel if there is excessive moisture. Season the ribs with salt primarily on the meaty side, rather than the bony side. Cut the racks into individual ribs by slicing between the bones.
Place the ribs onto a rimmed half sheet pan, and cover them with two-thirds of the barbecue sauce (which should be around one cup). Toss the ribs to ensure equal coverage of the sauce on each piece. Then, turn the ribs over, leaving the meat side facing up.
Cover the pan with foil thoroughly and cook for one hour and 45 minutes. Remove the foil, baste the ribs with half of the remaining barbecue sauce (approximately one-third cup), and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes. Afterward, baste the ribs once more with the remaining sauce and bake for another 20-30 minutes**. When finished, the ribs should have caramelized sauce that is no longer runny, but sticky and glazed. Enjoy!
*The St. Louis Style Spare Ribs I purchase from the butcher are ready to go, without the membrane. If yours have a membrane, simply pull it off with your fingers, and discard.
It’s important to keep an eye on barbecue sauces that contain higher concentrations of sugar, as they tend to burn faster.
There are various rib types that work for this recipe, including pork ribs like baby backs and country-style; cook time for all should be similar.
To store leftovers, simply place them in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer storage, place them in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
When reheating ribs, it’s recommended to use an oven set at 300F, wrap them in foil, and heat for about 20 minutes until warmed through.
While it’s possible to microwave them, it’s important to note that getting even heating can be difficult when there is meat on the bone. If ribs are frozen, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator first.
If you would like to double the recipe, feel free to do so, but make sure that the ribs are all cooking in a single layer on the pan. Multiple racks can be used in the oven, with no additional cooking time needed.
This recipe contains 651kcal, 35g carbohydrates, 47g protein, 71g fat, 23g saturated fat, 12g polyunsaturated fat, 26g monounsaturated fat, 1g trans fat, 242mg cholesterol, 1894mg sodium, 929mg potassium, 1g fiber, 28g sugar, 191IU vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 74mg calcium, and 3mg iron.
Please note that these nutritional values are estimated using a food database and are intended for informational purposes only.
This post was updated in October 2019, but was originally published in May 2011.
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