How To Cook Ribs in the Oven

updated Oct 17, 2023
4th of july

We've cracked the code to making perfectly tender and mouth-watering barbecued ribs in the oven.

Serves6 to 8

Prep20 minutes

Cook2 hours to 3 hours

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Who says you need a grill to cook good ribs? Over the years, my lack of outdoor space for a grill at my apartment has led me to pass up a good many recipes for barbecued ribs. But I don’t let that hold me back; I can cook up succulent ribs with my oven instead.

In fact, I do believe I’ve cracked the code to making perfectly tender and mouth-watering barbecue-style ribs in the oven. In this recipe, learn about the tips and steps to making the best oven-baked barbecue ribs.

Quick Overview

Tips For Making The Best Oven-Baked Ribs

  • Season the ribs a day ahead for a deeper flavor.
  • Add liquid smoke into the mustard for a mild smoke flavor.
  • Lift the ribs above the baking sheet on a rack for the heat to circulate on all sides.
  • Broil the ribs until evenly browned. Make sure the meaty side of the ribs is facing up.
  • Brush the barbecue sauce in the last half hour of cooking.
  • Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes. When it’s done, your knife will easily slide into the meat.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Why You Should Cook Ribs in the Oven

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.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Best Glazes and Rubs for Baked Ribs

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.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Tester’s Note

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.

  • Adding 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

How to Cook Ribs in the Oven

We've cracked the code to making perfectly tender and mouth-watering barbecued ribs in the oven.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 2 hours to 3 hours

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 4 to 5 pounds

    pork spareribs or baby back ribs

  • 1/4 cup

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons

    liquid smoke (optional)

  • 1 cup

    spice rub

  • 1 cup

    barbecue sauce, plus more for serving


  • Rimmed baking sheet

  • Aluminum foil

  • Wire cooling rack

  • Pastry brush

  • Knife


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  1. Prepare the baking sheet. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Fit a wire cooling rack on top. Lay the ribs on top of the rack in a single layer. This arrangement allows for heat circulation on all sides of the ribs.

  2. Season the ribs. Stir the mustard and the liquid smoke together, if using, and brush the ribs on both sides. Sprinkle the ribs with the dry rub and pat gently to make sure the rub adheres to the rib meat. (Note: This step can be done the day ahead for a deeper flavor. Wrap the seasoned ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

  3. Broil the ribs. Arrange an oven rack a few inches below the heating element and heat the broiler. Make sure the meaty side of the ribs is facing up. Broil until the sugar in the dry rub is bubbling and the ribs are evenly browned, about 5 minutes.

  4. Bake the ribs. Set the oven to 300°F. Move the ribs to an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Bake 2 1/2 to 3 hours for spareribs or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for baby back ribs. Halfway through cooking, cover the ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out.

  5. Brush with barbecue sauce. About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, brush the ribs with barbecue sauce, re-cover with foil, and continue cooking.

  6. Rest the ribs and serve. The ribs are done when a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the rib meat. Let them rest, covered, for about 10 minutes, and then cut between the bones to separate the individual ribs. Serve immediately with extra barbecue sauce for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The ribs can be seasoned, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight before baking.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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