Cooking ribs has always been my husband's thing. I request them, and he prepares them. His homemade rubbed, wrapped and smoked ribs...a thing of perfection. It has always been this way with us, even back when we were dating. There are moments when my craving for sweet + sticky BBQ baby back ribs is so strong. Mr. Buy This Cook That is always there to make it happen. However....
Sweet + Smoky Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs
I'm not known for my patience. Nor am I known for my skill with the smoker. Wood chips and water and temperature probes and air flow. BAH. Yes, I know that wood smoked ribs are of the highest order of all things pork.
But today...this day...I decided to create the next best thing. That's right. Mama took matters into her own hands. Let's work with the appliance I am best friends with. My trusty oven. This way I can do the prep work, then kick back with a bottle of wine and catch up on my Netflix while my oven does all the work. Genius.
Once I tasted the tender perfection of these Sweet + Smoky Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs, I knew there was no turning back.
To get that signature sweet + smoky flavor on your baby back ribs, it all starts with the rub. Here's what you'll need:
- Dark brown sugar - Sweetness is a must in my opinion. Brown sugar also binds everything to the ribs.
- Chili powder - Now is where we start layering in smoky and spicy elements.
- Smoked paprika - More smoky flavor, plus the paprika gives the ribs gorgeous color.
- Salt - Always. In this recipe, it is sugar's little brother.
- Black pepper - Basic, but necessary for peppery flavor.
- Onion powder - Savory element that helps round out the rub.
- Dry mustard - I use mustard in almost all of my pork recipes.
- Allspice - Now we're talking. You might not have expected this one, but it gives a nice warm flavor and aroma.
- Cumin - More smoky, earthy spice.
- Cayenne - Heat.
Get the exact ingredient amounts for this rib rub in the recipe at the bottom of this post. I like to make a double batch and store the leftovers in a sealed glass jar.
Once you have your rub together, it is time to prep the ribs. Honestly, this is the real reason I always let my husband take care of the ribs. But it isn't that hard. Here's how to prep baby back ribs:
- Remove the ribs from their package. Rinse the ribs in cold water and pat dry. I usually prepare layers of paper towels or butcher paper on my counter to keep from making a mess.
- Trim away any excess fat, but don't get carried away. You want some fat content on your ribs for moisture.
- Flip the ribs bone side facing you and remove the "silver skin". Silver skin is that thin membrane that runs along the bones. Start on the large end of the rib and pry the skin up with your fingers or a small knife. Then, grasp the skin and pull it back toward you, as if you were peeling off a label. If it is too slippery to hold, grab it with dry paper towels. It normally comes right off.
- Season and rub the ribs.
Now that my ribs are clean and trimmed and ready to go, time to make them tasty. Arrange the ribs on a large piece of foil. You want the foil big enough to wrap the ribs up when we are finished.
TIP: Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with Liquid Smoke seasoning, then rub it in with your hands. This gives the ribs that signature smoky flavor you are after, plus it helps the homemade rub stick like glue. Careful with that liquid smoke. You want to use it sparingly, because it is very strong.
GENEROUSLY coat all sides of the ribs with the rib rub. Don't be stingy. The amount of rib rub in this recipe is enough to well coat two racks of baby back ribs. I used it ALL.
After the baby back ribs have been rubbed down with all that love, wrap them tightly with foil and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.
Flip the foil-wrapped ribs MEAT SIDE DOWN then pop them in the oven. Why meat side down? All the juices and flavors and love will go down into the meat and give you that tender, fall off the bone result.
Yes, I said fall off the bone. That's the way I love my ribs. A lot of rib purists talk about "bite" and "chew" ...but that's competition style, y'all. This gal loves her ribs tender, sweet and sticky.
If you love this recipe, try these delicious ideas:
These Sweet + Sticky Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs do their thing LOW AND SLOW at 275 degrees for about two and a half hours. While they are baking just walk away. Go do housework. Call your mom. Mow the yard. Do laundry.
Or put your feet up and watch Supernatural. That's what I do. Shrug.
When the timer (FINALLY) dings, remove the ribs from the oven and let them rest IN THE FOIL for 15 minutes. I know this part is hard. It really is. But so worth it. Because look at THIS!
You can eat them as is, no sauce required. They are delicious straight out of the oven with all of that sweet, spicy rub loved up on the pork ribs.
But I've gotta do me, so BRING ON THE SAUCE!
Use your favorite barbecue sauce and slather it on the ribs. Pop the ribs under the broiler for just a few minutes and let the sauce bubble and bake and get all sticky-icky on the baby back ribs.
Slice and serve these Sweet + Smoky Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs with all your favorite sides. To me, this is a meal unto itself. All I need is a wet towel to clean up the aftermath, and I'm in heaven.
Every single bite of these tender baby back ribs is full of natural pork flavor, coated with spicy-smoke rub and finished with tangy sauce.
I'll leave you with one more gratuitous shot of sexy ribs. Sweet dreams, my friends.
Ok, last one, I promise! Ribs this good deserve an encore.
Sweet + Smoky Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs
- 4 pounds baby back ribs two racks, trimmed and silver skin removed
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke seasoning
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ¾ cup barbecue sauce more or less to taste
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Remove the baby back ribs from their packaging. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Turn the ribs bone side up and trim and remove the silver skin membrane from the ribs. (See post for picture and detailed instructions.)Place ribs on large pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil, large enough to wrap the ribs later.
- Sprinkle both sides sparingly with the liquid smoke seasoning.
- Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, onion powder, mustard, allspice, cumin and cayenne in a bowl. Generously coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub.
- Turn the ribs MEAT side down, then tightly wrap the ribs with the foil. Place the wrapped ribs on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake on 275 degrees for about two and a half hours. Remove from the oven and let rest 15 minutes.
- Carefully peel back the foil. Brush with sauce as desired and broil for a few minutes until the sauce is sticky and bubbly. Watch carefully and do not burn.
- Serve hot with additional sauce if desired.