Make Amazing Baby Back Ribs at Home

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If your family loves eating baby back ribs in barbecue restaurants, try your hand at preparing the delicious cut of pork at home. Don't be intimidated by the thought of spending all day babysitting the ribs or trying to earn the title of "pit master," because it's entirely possible to replicate in your own oven the winning flavors and finger-lickin' finish of restaurant ribs. The following recipe creates ribs with that classic American barbecue flavor and sticky-sauce coating, but it can easily be customized with different seasonings and sauces. It does take time, but most of it is hands-off, and you need to pay close attention to the ribs only during the final stages of cooking.

Total Time: 3 to 4 hours | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 sticks celery, halved
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 250 F.
  2. Remove the membrane from the backs of the racks of ribs. To do this, slide the tip of a knife under the membrane, pull it upward and cut through it. Pinch the cut parts of the membrane with your fingers and tug it firmly upward and off the ribs. Alternatively, ask the butcher to remove the membrane for you.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, onion, paprika, chili powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper to make a dry spice rub. 
  4. Rub the spice mixture all over both sides of both racks of ribs, covering their surfaces thoroughly and evenly and pressing the mixture into the meat to help it stick.
  5. Arrange the onion slices, lemon slices and halved celery sticks evenly across the bottom of one or two roasting pans, however many you need to cook both racks of ribs. 
  6. Set the racks of ribs on top of the beds of onion, lemon and celery, then cover the pan tightly with foil. As the ribs cook, their juices will mingle with the lemon, onion and celery juices, which together will gently steam the meat and make it moist and flavorful.
  7. Bake the ribs in the oven for 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender and pulls easily from the bone when you test it with a fork. 
  8. Pull the ribs out of the oven and raise the temperature to 350 F.
  9. Remove the ribs from the pan and set them aside while you discard the onion, lemon, celery and accumulated juices. 
  10. Put the ribs back in the empty roasting pan and brush a generous amount of barbecue sauce over both sides.
  11. Cook the sauced ribs in the oven for another 30 minutes, turning them and brushing them with more sauce once or twice during that time.

Tip

This oven method can be combined with grilling outdoors for the best of both worlds. After the initial 2 to 3 hours in the oven, coat the ribs with sauce and finish them on a hot grill instead of returning them to the oven. You might want to cut the racks into more manageable portions before grilling.