How to Cook a Perfect Rack of Pork Ribs in the Oven

Pork ribs are a classic main dish that is always a crowd pleaser. When cooked properly, ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender with rich, meaty flavor. While grilling and smoking ribs may seem intimidating, the oven is actually one of the easiest and most foolproof ways to cook ribs. With just a few simple steps, you can have restaurant-quality ribs right from your own kitchen. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know for oven-baked ribs that are juicy, tender and packed with flavor every time.

Choosing the Right Rack of Ribs

The first step is selecting the right rack of ribs There are a few different cuts to choose from

  • Baby back ribs – From the upper ribcage near the spine. They have the most tender meat and are shorter than other racks.

  • Spare ribs – From the belly and side of the pig. They are longer with more fat and connective tissue. Require longer cooking times.

  • St. Louis style – The rectangle shaped spare ribs with the rib tips removed. Good middle ground between baby backs and full spare ribs.

For the oven, I recommend baby back ribs or St. Louis style spare ribs. Full racks of spare ribs work too but may need a little extra time in the oven. Look for racks that are 1.5-2.5 lbs and have nice even coverage of meat. Stay away from racks with lots of exposed bone.

Prepping the Ribs

Ribs usually come with a thin membrane covering the back side of the bones. This membrane will shrink and toughen when cooked, so it’s best to remove it ahead of time.

To remove, slide a butter knife under the membrane at the corner until you can grab hold of it. Then gently pull it off in one piece. It may take some tugging, but go slowly and it will come clean off.

Next, pat the ribs dry thoroughly with paper towels, then rub them all over with a dry seasoning rub. The rub adds great flavor as the ribs cook. Use your favorite pre-made rub or make your own blend of spices like brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika and pepper.

Finally, place the seasoned ribs on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. This allows air circulation for even cooking

Low and Slow Oven Method

Cooking the ribs low and slow is the key for tender fall-off-the-bone ribs. Cook between 250-275 F which gently breaks down the connective tissues.

Cover the ribs tightly with foil then bake for 3-1/2 hours at 250 degrees. If your rack of ribs is larger than 3lbs, add an additional 30 minutes baking time per additional 1/2 — 1lb ribs. For example, bake a 3 — 4lb rack of ribs for 4 hours.

After this initial braising time, unwrap the ribs and brush with barbecue sauce. Place them back uncovered for another 15-30 minutes until the sauce caramelizes.

Use the bend test to check for doneness. Gently lift in the center with tongs – the ribs should bend and start to break apart rather than staying stiff. The meat should look very tender and shrink back from the ends of the bones.

An instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 190-205 F when fully cooked.

Finishing With Barbecue Sauce

No ribs are complete without a good barbecue sauce! Whip up your own or use a good quality pre-made sauce.

Brush the sauce onto the ribs during the last 15-30 minutes of oven time so it caramelizes. Apply a second coating right when they come out of the oven for finger-licking results.

Oven Ribs Tips

Follow these tips for the very best oven-baked ribs every time:

  • Choose the right cut – Look for 1.5-2.5 pound racks of baby back or St. Louis ribs with lots of meat coverage.

  • Remove membrane – Slide a butter knife under and peel it off in one piece.

  • Generously season – Rub a spice blend all over before cooking for great flavor.

  • Slow cook covered – Braise at 250-275 F for 3-4 hours depending on size.

  • Finish with sauce – Brush with sauce then bake uncovered 15-30 minutes more.

  • Check doneness – Use bend and temperature tests to ensure fully cooked.

Serving Suggestions

Oven ribs pair perfectly with traditional barbecue sides:

  • Corn bread – Bake up a pan in the oven while the ribs cook.

  • Coleslaw – Tangy cabbage slaw balances the richness.

  • Baked beans – Sweet, smoky and saucy.

  • Potato salad – Creamy cool potatoes are a must.

  • Corn on the cob – Grilled or boiled corn is a classic.

  • Mac and cheese – Ooey, cheesy goodness!

Don’t forget plenty of napkins and wet wipes too. Gets messy!

Oven-Baked Pork Rib Perfection

Cooking ribs in the oven delivers fall-off-the-bone tender, saucy and flavorful ribs every bit as good as what your favorite barbecue joint serves up. Just be sure to prep the ribs properly, use a flavorful rub, slow cook covered to braise the meat, then finish uncovered with sticky barbecue sauce. Follow this simple process for finger-licking ribs that will have everyone begging for more.

Pork Rib Roast Basics


How long should pork ribs be in the oven?

Larger, fattier ribs need to be cooked longer than baby backs. Shoot for around 2 hours at 350 degrees if the ribs are uncovered, as in our Barbecued Pork Ribs. If wrapped in foil, the ribs can go for up to 3 hours at 300°F degrees, or crank the oven up to 400 degrees for a briefer baking time—1.5 to 2 hours.

What temperature do you cook a rib rack?

You’ll want to let your ribs grill at 275 for four to five hours. Ideally, the internal temperature of the ribs should be between 190 and 200 degrees when you’re finished. If you don’t already have a meat thermometer, go ahead and invest in one.

Should I cover rack of ribs in oven?

Do you bake ribs covered or uncovered? You can cook ribs either covered with foil or uncovered. Foil is used to stop the meat from drying out but is not essential. If cooking uncovered and you notice the meat is drying out or browning too quickly, you can cover with foil for the remaining cook time.

How do you keep pork ribs from drying out in 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. 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.

Can you cook pork ribs in the oven?

Oven Pork Ribs are ideal for Baby Back and St Louis Style Pork Ribs. It will also work for Pork Spareribs but the oven cook time should be reduced by 20 minutes (as they are less meaty). In Australia, we do not (yet!) distinguish between various cuts of pork ribs (most are a Baby Back / St Louis style hybrid or they are very skimpy Spare Ribs).

Can one eat pork ribs if they have diabetes?

It is not recommended. People with diabetes should limit or avoid high-fat cuts of meat, such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and pork ribs, as they are high in saturated fats. These can increase body weight and deregulate blood glucose levels.

How do you cook a rack of spare ribs?

Trim the rack of spare ribs from any excess fat, pat them dry with a paper towel. Turn the rack with the meaty side down and identify the membrane that runs across the length of the rib bones. Peel it off using a paper towel to eliminate slipperiness. Liberally season the rack of ribs on both sides and place onto the baking sheet.

How to bake ribs?

Read on to learn how to bake ribs. There’s more than one way to bake ribs in the oven so you’ll end up with tender, tasty ribs. The methods range from simply letting your oven do all the work, to a multi-step method of marinating, baking, and finishing on the grill.

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