Who says you need a grill to cook good ribs? The lack of outdoor space for a grill at my apartment led me to pass up a good many recipes for barbecued ribs over the years.
Now I'll be making up for lost time. I do believe I've cracked the code to making perfectly tender and mouth-watering barbecued ribs in the oven.
Perfect Ribs in the Oven: Watch the Video
Why Cooking Ribs in the Oven Works
This is one of those recipes that you almost have to try in order to believe. Rib meat is fairly tough, and it needs a long time to break down and become tender. The oven is actually an ideal environment for this kind of slow and steady cooking. Lifting the ribs above the baking sheet on a rack also lets the heat circulate on all sides. After a few hours, the meat is nearly falling off the bone and you'll be licking your fingers in no time.
Best Glazes and Rubs
Go ahead and adapt this oven-roasting technique to any recipe for barbecued ribs that you take a fancy to. I love them simply brushed with mustard and sprinkled with a favorite spice rub. When I'm feeling fancy, I'll make my own barbecue sauce and brush that on in the last half hour of cooking.
One thing that you don't get with this method is the smoky barbecue flavor. Sad, but true. To capture a bit of that delicious flavor, add some extra smoked paprika to your spice rub or mix some liquid smoke into the mustard before brushing it on.
Clouded by the smoke of mystery and lore, it is no wonder barbecue ribs seem so intimidating. So while fiddling with a smoker might make for an interesting weekend project, the oven and a few hours time are all you really need to serve ribs for supper.
- On the liquid smoke: Do not be put off by the idea of adding liquid smoke; despite sounding completely artificial, it is a natural ingredient made from the smoke of burning hardwood. I like a mild smoke flavor, so I added just 1 teaspoon.
- Knowing when they're done: It seems that we've all been fed the line that ribs are not done until they fall off the bone, when really, if these ribs reach that point they are overcooked. Cook until a knife slides easily into the meat.
— Patty, May 2018
This post was originally published July 2012.