Cooking deliciously tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs doesn’t have to be a time-intensive, laborious process. You can create ribs just as mouth-watering as what you might find at your favorite barbecue joint at home, in your own oven. Here’s how.
How to Cook Tender Ribs in the Oven
Regardless of the recipe you use, you’ll want to follow a few basics when it comes to cooking tender ribs in the oven.
Firstly, in the grocery store, you’ll see a few different variations of pork ribs available for purchase. You want to look for loin back ribs, sometimes called baby back ribs. These smaller ribs are from the same area of the pig where you’ll find pork chops. They cook faster and are more tender than spareribs.
Most ribs are sold as an entire slab, and you can expect to get one to two servings of ribs per slab.
Once you have your ribs at home, you’ll want to give them a good wash and then pat them dry. You’ll see a shiny, silver membrane on top of the bone portion of the slab. Remove that with a sharp knife (it pulls away pretty easily), or else the membrane could impact the tenderness of your cooked ribs.
When it comes to barbecue, there are arguments over whether a dry rub or a sauce is the best option for seasoning your oven-baked ribs. However, why do you have to choose? You can go for both.
If you don’t have any pork rub on hand, you can simply use salt and pepper, rubbing it into the meat before cooking. The sauce — whether you go with a homemade version or something from a bottle — will be added later in the cooking process.
How Long to Cook Ribs in the Oven
How long you cook your ribs in the oven depends totally on how much time you have on your hands.
If you have up to four hours to devote to this cooking project, then you can start your oven low and slow at 275 degrees.
If you have up to two and a half hours, start your oven out at 300 degrees.
If you have only an hour and a half or so, crank up the heat to 350 degrees.
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Common Rib Pitfalls and How to Fix Them
If you’re making ribs at home for the first time, it’s good to have a recipe (we have some awesome oven rib recipes below), but even when following a recipe, you can still run into common rib pitfalls.
Here’s what to do when you hit a snafu.
So you get your ribs out of the oven. How can you tell if they’re ready?
Using a meat thermometer, measure the temperature of the meat at its thickest point. Technically, ribs are done and safe to eat when they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. However, most pros say that ribs are at their most tender and juiciest when the internal temperature reaches between 190 and 200 degrees.
A common misconception is that ribs will fall off the bone when they’re finished, but that’s not the case (and could mean your ribs were cooked incorrectly). Instead, the meat should cleanly pull away from the bone.
If you think your ribs are undercooked, just pop them back in the oven and keep a close eye on them, with intermittent temperature checks. At this stage in the cooking process, you should be basting your ribs with your sauce of choice, so be sure to keep doing that, to prevent them from drying out.
If your ribs are overcooked and dry, you probably just tried to cook them at too high of heat, too fast. What you want to do to fix that dryness is give the ribs a steam bath.
Mix your barbecue sauce with an equal portion of apple cider vinegar, coat the ribs and then wrap them tightly in foil. Put them in the oven for 300 degrees for an hour. This process gives your ribs new life and infuses them with some much-needed moisture.
Didn’t Remove the Membrane
Did you miss this crucial step in the rib prep process? If so, you likely ended up with ribs that are chewier than you’d prefer.
The best thing to do, if you realized you didn’t remove the membrane at some point during the cooking process, is to start cooking lower and slower than you would have anticipated. This will alleviate some of the toughness and soften the membrane as much as possible.
Favorite Oven Ribs Recipes
Looking for an oven ribs recipe? Try one of these three favorites.
This Easy Oven BBQ Ribs recipe is definitely a good one for entry-level cooks. The recipe is simple, easy to follow and requires minimal ingredients.
If you have plenty of time and nowhere to go, try this scrumptious Fall Off the Bone Oven Baked Ribs recipe, which bakes the ribs at a low temperature for up to four hours and then pairs the ribs with a sweet and spicy homemade barbecue sauce.
This Best Oven Baked Ribs recipe from the pros at Delish requires just over two hours and blends a mix of pantry-staple spices for the dry rub and then a few additional pantry staples for a homemade barbecue sauce.
Favorite Side Dishes for Oven Ribs
Of course, you can’t have a delicious dinner of oven-baked ribs without some classic sides to go along with your meal. Baked Beans, Cornbread and Potato Salad are all good picks that are sure crowd-pleasers.
Want to Cook Ribs in the Oven?
There’s no need to be scared of this somewhat intimidating process. It’s totally easier than it looks and the results are well worth the few hours of waiting.
You won’t even need that many ingredients and only minimal cooking skills. Cooking ribs in the oven is a rewarding, simple cooking project anyone can tackle at home.
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