BBQ Baby-Back Ribs

BBQ Ribs

Matt and I made these oven-roasted BBQ baby-back ribs for my family at the Hunting Camp last weekend. This was our first time making baby-backs and they were delicious! I’m pretty sure that my brother single-handedly ate an entire rack… (But it technically wasn’t single-handedly because he totally had to use two hands to really dig into these saucy, meaty ribs!!) 😉I’d recommend lots of napkins and maybe some wet wipes when serving these!

When researching recipes for this meal, we originally thought that it would be neat to cook the ribs entirely on the grill, but we were doubling the recipe and quickly realized that 6 full racks of ribs would never fit comfortably on a standard grill.  With this in mind, Matt opted to do most of the “slow and low” cooking on rimmed baking sheets in the oven and simply finished the ribs on the grill for that final grilled flavor.  This made for an easy afternoon with very little hands-on work required up until the final grilling and cutting steps.


BBQ Baby-Back Ribs (serves 6; adapted from Williams Sonoma Grill Master)

4 chipotles in adobo, seeded & chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
4 1/2 teaspoons cumin
4 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoons ground cloves
Coarse salt

3 slabs baby-back ribs (6lb.)
1 cup of your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce

To make the rub, combine the chipotle chiles, garlic, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, cloves and salt in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth paste forms. If the rub is too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons water and continue to pulse. The rub may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days.

On the morning before you serve the ribs, begin by removing the silverskin (membrane) off of the bone-side of the ribs.  (See here for tips.) Use a sharp knife to carefully trim any large sections of fat from the meat, then use your hands to slather the ribs with the rub.  Coat both sides of each slab evenly, then place the ribs bone-side down on a rimmed baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or as long as overnight.

Flipping the ribs during roasting

Approximately 3 hours before dinner, preheat the oven to 275°F and allow the ribs to sit out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Transfer one rack of ribs to a second rimmed baking sheet (also bone-side down), then pour approximately 1/2 cup of water around the outer edge of each baking sheet. Cover the pans tightly with foil and place them in the oven. Roast for one hour, then remove the foil and flip the ribs over.  Continue to roast uncovered for another 1 1/2 hours, flipping every 30 minutes. The ribs can be prepared to this point a day in advance, then covered and refrigerated.

Ribs on the BBQ

Prep a gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Brush the roasted ribs with half of the barbecue sauce. Grill the ribs, turning once, until heated through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1-rib portions. Arrange the ribs on a platter and drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup sauce. Serve and enjoy!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs close

Oven-Roasted BBQ Spare Ribs

Matt and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring.  Until then, we’re attempting to brighten the last few days of winter with summery meals like tacos with lime-jalapeño slaw and pasta tossed with garlic and fresh veggies.  Last weekend’s summer-inspired food was a new one for us:  oven-roasted pork spare ribs with homemade barbecue sauce!

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

Spare ribs are a thicker, meatier (and, in my opinion, more cartilage-filled) cut than the ‘baby back ribs’ that you’re likely to see in restaurants.  Spare ribs are an inexpensive cut (just $2.99/lb at Acme), so they were a good starting point for our first rib-roasting experience.  Nevertheless we agreed that next time we make ribs we’ll opt for the pricier and more tender baby backs.

From start to finish this recipe took about 6 hours but most of that time was hands-off oven-roasting.  The most time consuming part was making the barbecue sauce but if you don’t have time to do that you could easily use bottled sauce instead.  When you serve the ribs, make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand… these are juicy, saucy, and delicious!

Oven-Roasted Pork Spare Ribs (from The New Best Recipe)

Ingredients for the Dry Rub:Dry Rubbed Pork Spare Ribs
1/8 cup Paprika
1 tablespoon Chile Powder
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground White Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Ingredients for the Ribs:
1 rack Pork Spare Ribs (approx. 3-4 lbs.)
Dry Rub (above)
1 1/2 cups Barbecue Sauce (homemade or bottled)

Mix the dry rub ingredients together in a bowl.  Place the rack of ribs on a large rimmed baking sheet and, using your hands, spread the dry rub over the entire surface of the ribs (top and bottom).  We found the rub to be a little overwhelming so next time we make this I’ll probably only use about 3/4 of the rub.  Position the rubbed ribs meaty side up and allow to sit at room temperature for 1.5 hours.  (If desired, you could also cover and refrigerate the rack for up to 24 hours which will produce a very strong rub flavor.)

Roasted Pork Spare Ribs

After the ribs have rested, cover the baking sheet tightly with foil and place in a preheated 300°F oven on the middle rack.  Allow to roast for 1 hour, then remove the foil and continue roasting for another hour.  Remove the ribs from the oven and liberally apply about half of the barbecue sauce over the top (meaty side) of the ribs with a brush.  Return the ribs to the oven for another 1 1/2 hours.

When the ribs are done roasting, remove them from the oven and wrap the ribs (without the pan) completely in foil.  Place the foil-wrapped ribs in a paper bag and fold/crimp the top of the bag shut.  Allow the ribs to rest at room temperature in the bag for 1 hour.

After resting, unwrap the ribs and cut them between the bones with a sharp knife.  Serve with the remaining barbecue sauce and enjoy!

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs