There is almost nothing better than fall-off-the-bone ribs, no matter how you cook them. My mother would cook ribs in a pressure cooker atop a bed of sauerkraut with some brown sugar and whatever interesting spices were in the pantry. It sounds like an odd combination, but it really worked with the sourness of the kraut and the sweetness of the sugar. The recipe was simple and the meat melted in your mouth.
There are plenty of other ways to cook ribs. You can smoke them, grill them, or slow cook them in a crockpot. Baking ribs in an oven is probably the easiest way to cook ribs and always results in tender meat that pulls away from the bone. Beth’s Melt in Your Mouth Ribs recipe does this perfectly. Beth was on to something when she came up with this. It is ideal for when the weather isn’t cooperating and the smoker or grill isn’t a viable option.
This recipe has 2 steps. The first is to bake the ribs in foil with a dry rub seasoning blend. The second step is to coat the ribs with your favorite barbeque sauce and run the ribs under the broiler to help the sauce to caramelize and stick to the ribs.
You have options with the rib meat. There are 3 distinct cuts of pork ribs. Spareribs are cut from the belly of the hog. These are a bit fatty making them very flavorful. St. Louis-style ribs are cut from the breast bone area. These are thinner and lay flatter, making them very easy to work with. They are also marbled with fat. Baby back ribs are cut from the loin area on the back of the pig. These are smaller and leaner. All are tasty and can be used interchangeably for most rib recipes. Smaller ribs will take less time to cook.
- 4 pounds pork ribs trimmed and membrane removed
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp smoked salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper less if desired
- 2 cups jarred barbeque sauce + extra for serving
- Get all the ingredients together.
- Remove the ribs from the refrigerator 30 minutes before preparing them for the oven. Trim any excess fat and remove the membrane that covers the bones.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, garlic powder, paprika, smoked salt, and cayenne pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the ribs.
- Lay out 2 layers of aluminum foil, dull side up, long enough for the ribs to fit inside. Place the ribs, meat side down on the foil. Place 2 more sheets of foil, shiny side facing up, on top of the ribs. Roll and crimp all the edges of the foil to form a tight seal around the ribs.
- Place the foil packet of ribs on a sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 2 to 2-1/2 hours until the meat starts to pull away from the bone ends. You can take a peek at 2 hours being careful not to let all the juices run out onto the pan.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place the ribs on a clean cutting board. Cut the ribs into portions – 2 or 3 ribs per portion.
- Turn on the broiler. Place the ribs on a broiler pan, bone side facing up. Slather on 1 cup of the barbeque sauce. Place the ribs under the broiler and cook until the sauce is bubbling and sticky, approximately 1-1/2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them!
- Remove the pan from the oven. Flip the ribs over and slather on the rest of the sauce. Return the pan to the oven and broil again for approximately 1-1/2 minutes.
- Serve the warm rib portions with extra sauce and your favorite barbeque sides and a bunch of paper napkins. The ribs will pull apart from one another.
Notes and Tips
The recipe starts with removing the rack of ribs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before prepping them for the oven. Allowing the ribs to come to almost room temperature will ensure that they cook more evenly. In fact, I like to do this with most red meats.
You do need to remove the membrane or silver skin from the bone side of the ribs to expose the thin layer of meat that is beneath the membrane so the rub and sauce can adequately penetrate that meat. Also, the membrane is unpleasantly chewy. It is very easy to remove this layer using a small knife to make an incision and a paper towel to pull the skin from the bones.
Smoked salt is available in many spice sections of the market. Alternatively, you can order it online. Smoked salt is salt that has been infused with smoke over a fire or in a smoker. If you can’t find it, you can make an acceptable version by infusing non-iodized fine sea salt with liquid smoke. You will use 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke to 1/2 cup of salt. Allow the salt to dry overnight before storing it in an air-tight container.
Jarred barbeque sauce makes this a pretty easy recipe. There are some really good ones developed by seasoned pitmasters. If you are feeling energetic, make your own barbeque sauce. You will need 2 cups for this recipe.
This recipe will also work with beef or lamb ribs. Beef generally takes a bit longer to cook because they are larger and meatier. Lamb ribs might take less time.
What to Serve with Beth’s Ribs?
There are some classic sides that are often served with barbeque ribs. Some of these foods are eaten with the hands because let’s face it, you are going to get messy while eating ribs with a sticky sauce. I like corn on the cob and biscuits.
But you will want other options to complement the sweet ribs. Try a crunchy coleslaw, potato salad, or smoky baked beans with savory cornbread squares. If I am serving ribs in winter, I like to pile them on a plate with warm plant-based comfort food dishes, like vegetarian Shepherds Pie, a big bowl of braised greens, fried green beans, and mashed sweet potatoes infused with maple syrup.