Baby back ribs are a crowd-pleasing main and if you use our marinade + dry rub method, you can’t go wrong! Cook this baby back ribs recipe in the oven or on the grill.
Your Ultimate Baby Back Ribs Recipe!
This recipe is for a delicious and tender rack of baby back ribs that are cooked low and slow in either the oven or grill and then finished off at a higher temp for a crispy, flavorful crust.
Why you’ll love them!
Serves a crowd.
A no-fail way to cook baby back ribs.
Cook in either the oven or on the grill.
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What are baby back ribs?
Baby back ribs are a type of pork rib that comes from the upper portion of the pig’s rib cage.
They are called “baby” back ribs because they are shorter and smaller than spare ribs, which come from the lower portion of the rib cage. Baby back ribs are also leaner and have less fat than spare ribs, making them a healthier option.
Spare Ribs vs. Baby Back Ribs
Spare ribs and baby back ribs are both popular cuts of pork, but they have some key differences.
- Size: Spare ribs are larger and meatier than baby back ribs. They come from the lower portion of the pig’s rib cage, closer to the belly. Baby back ribs are smaller and leaner, and they come from the upper portion of the rib cage.
- Taste: Spare ribs have a stronger, smokier flavor than baby back ribs. This is because spare ribs are often smoked before they are cooked. Baby back ribs have a more delicate flavor.
- Cooking time: Spare ribs take longer to cook than baby back ribs. This is because they are larger and have more bone. Baby back ribs can be cooked in the oven or on the grill in 2-3 hours. Spare ribs will take 3-4 hours to cook on the grill or in the oven.
How to Remove the Membrane from Baby Back Ribs
Some racks of ribs, typically when you purchase directly from the butcher, come with the membrane already removed. However, sometimes the pork ribs still have the membrane. Here’s a quick rundown of how to remove it:
- Using a sharp knife, make a small cut along the edge of the membrane.
- Insert your fingers under the membrane and peel it away from the bone.
- Once the membrane is removed, discard it.
Grill the ribs meat-side-down over indirect heat at 300ºF for 1 hour. Up the temperature to 400ºF and move the ribs over direct heat. Brush on bbq sauce and grill for 10-15 more minutes.
Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet and cover with tin foil. Bake at 300ºF for 1 hour. Turn the heat up to 400ºF and then brush on the bbq sauce. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.
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baby back ribs internal temp
The ideal internal temperature for baby back ribs is at least 195ºF.
Top Tips for Perfect Baby Back Ribs
Remove the membrane. it’s important to remove the membrane of your ribs before you start the cooking process. See above for a quick tutorial.
Marinate the ribs. Marinating the ribs helps to tenderize the meat and add flavor. You can use any type of marinade you like, but be sure to let the ribs marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight for the best flavor.
Use a dry rub. The dry rub helps to add flavor and crust to the ribs.
Cook the ribs low and slow. The best way to cook ribs is low and slow. This means cooking the ribs at a low temperature for a long period of time. Up the temperature right at the end to help the outside layer crust up.
Let the ribs rest. After cooking, it’s important to let the ribs rest for 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in tender and juicy ribs.
If you have any leftover ribs, store them into an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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Tender Baby Back Ribs Recipe (Grill + Oven)
- First, prepare your baby back ribs. Remove the membrane from the ribs by sliding a knife under the membrane (which is a white film layer) on the backside of a rack of ribs. Pull the membrane off with your fingers.
- Massage the kosher salt and pepper into the rib meat and set aside.
- Make the rib marinade. Add all of the ingredients for the rib marinade into a bowl and whisk until combined.
- Transfer the ribs into a gallon-sized bag or a 9×13-inch pan. Pour the marinade over the ribs. Be sure the ribs are covered in marinade. Flip the ribs meat side down, cover, and refrigerate the ribs for at least 1 hour or overnight for more tender and flavorful ribs.
- Preheat the grill or oven to 300ºF.
- Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let the excess marinade drip from the ribs. Season the ribs with aroubd 1/4 cup of the dry rub. Rub the spices into the ribs on both sides so that they’re completely covered.
- Let the ribs sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
- Grill Directions: Transfer the ribs onto the grill and cook meat-side-down, over indirect heat at 300ºF for 1 hour. Bring the temperature of the grill up to 400ºF. Move the ribs over to direct heat, making sure they are meat-side-up. Use a brush to coat the ribs with bbq sauce. Grill over direct heat for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Oven Directions: Transfer the ribs onto a baking sheet meat-side-down and cover with tin foil. Bake at 300ºF for 1 hour. Remove the ribs from the oven and use a brush to coat the ribs with bbq sauce. Bring the temperature of the oven up to 400ºF and cook for 10-15 more minutes.
- Remove the ribs from the grill or oven when the internal temperature reaches 195ºF but you can also tell that the ribs are done because they will start to expose the bone.
- Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes and serve.
Tips & Notes
- Store any excess dry rub in an airtight container to use later.
- The longer the ribs marinate the more tender and flavorful they will be.
- You can use any type of bbq sauce that you’d like.
- This recipe has only been tested with baby back ribs, no other kind of rib.
- If you like more of a ‘crust’ on your ribs, add more dry rub before grilling.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Erin from The Wooden Skillet.