Easy Oven Ribs That Anyone Can Cook
Ribs are terrifying.
No one wants to screw up a huge piece of meat, especially when your husband, whom at the mention of said meat, looks as though he's fallen in love with you for the first time.
So much pressure.
These are every day ribs. They don't involve days of marinating, a custom smoker, or the giant belly and beard that adorn most television grill masters. But they're easy, tender, and delicious. If you've never made ribs because of fear, healing is here.
The Basic Idea
- Prep the meat. (I promise it's easy.)
- Season the meat.
- Let the meat sit for awhile.
- Cook the meat in the oven.
- Cover the meat with barbecue sauce.
- Eat all the meat.
Let's break these down.
Prep the Meat
Choose Your Ribs
There are three types of ribs you can find at most stores - baby back ribs, spareribs, and country style ribs. Look at them as small, medium, and large, but really don't sweat the difference. Baby backs are what they serve at Chili's (go ahead and sing it), and country style ribs are thick and meaty, often sold already cut into individual ribs (why???).
Frankly, I buy what's available or on sale. I've tried this method with all three, and it's worked.
Take Off the Weird Skin
Okay, you can skip this part if you want, but the payoff is worth it. Here's the deal...
The back of the ribs (baby back and spare) has this skin (ew) that prevents your spices and sauce from getting into the meat completely, so I recommend you take it off, and this is the only way without losing a finger or your mind.
Slide your knife under the skin at one end and separate it from the meat just a little. Then with a wad of paper towels in both hands, hold the meat with one hand and the skin with the other, and gently pull the skin off. You need the grip from the paper towels because this sucker is slippery. If you want to see it in action, here's a random YouTube video. The first time you do it feels scary, and then every other time you'll be done in less than a minute. It's like riding a bike... a weird, fatty, slippery bike.
That was uncalled for. I'm so sorry.
Season the Meat
Since we're not smoking these ribs or cooking them for a million hours, we need to impart some flavor. We do that with a spice rub.
You can use a store-bought rub, or you can quickly make your own. I use a spicy-ish rub to balance the barbecue sauce which is pretty sweet.
SPICE RUB // enough for one rack of ribs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper (or about 25 grinds of the pepper mill)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika (use smoked if you're up for it)
1 tsp Mexican oregano (regular is fine, but Mexican is yummy)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sugar
Put your ribs on a large sheet pan covered in foil, and massage every bit of that spice rub into both sides of the meat.
Let the Meat Sit for Awhile
Cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it in the fridge for at least two and up to 24 hours. The longer it sits, the better.
I find ribs taste better if they haven't been frozen, so I'll buy a rack and spice them that morning to cook the same night or spice them the night I buy them to cook the next day. Whatever you do, just be sure to leave them in the fridge.
Cook the Meat
Here's where you'll say, "That's it?" and wonder if I've lost my mind. But I haven't. All you do is put the ribs into a 350 degree oven uncovered for two hours. You can even do it on the same sheet pan they've been getting spicy on as long as you pour off any juices beforehand.
I mean it. That's it. The temperature feels high, right? Aren't we supposed to go low and slow? Yeah, a little, but we're not getting flavor from a smoker or char from a grill. Cooking them at this temperature keeps them tender while giving us the tiniest bit of crust, too. I promise it works. Pinky promise.
Cover the Meat with Barbecue Sauce
After two hours, take out the ribs, spread on some barbecue sauce (we'll come back to that), and cook for another 15-25 minutes until the sauce gets sticky and the tiniest bit charred. I like to use a grill brush and liberally brush on maybe 1/2 cup of sauce. Trust your judgment.
You can use a bottled sauce obviously. Some are really good and your family's favorite. I'm a weirdo who like to make things if I can, so I often start making sauce when I put the ribs in to cook since it takes about 2 hours to simmer.
BARBECUE SAUCE // enough to coat the ribs and dip at the table (adapted from here)
1 cup ketchup
1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato puree/sauce/something smooth
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 1/2 tsp black pepper (about 40 grinds)
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire
Whisk it together in a small saucepan, and let it simmer for about two hours. It's magically sweet and delicious. (Perfect on chicken bee tee dubs.)
Eat the Meat
To cut the rack into individual ribs, don't leave the ribs flat. Stand them up on their sides so your knife (a sharp one, please) can follow the rib more easily. If you cut it flat, it doesn't always work because bone and cartilage don't allow for a single straight cut.
Load plates with the ribs, serve with extra sauce, and GO. TO. TOWN. Napkins are essential.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
(Sorry to yell.)
But really you can do this.