These Melt in Your Mouth BBQ Ribs are meaty and satisfying with all the flavors you dream of but made mostly in your oven. No hours of tending a grill involved!
I have cooked racks of ribs for many years and I’ve tried all different kinds of methods. From boiling the ribs and finishing them on the grill to starting them on the grill and finishing them in the oven. None of them gave me quite the texture I was looking for. I wanted the same texture and flavor of slow-cooked ribs over fire, but without the hours of monitoring a grill.
I thought I was making decent ribs. They tasted good but were kind of dry and a little tough. It turns out I was doing it wrong.
It wasn’t until I read about a different technique that I realized what needed to be changed. Suddenly it made total sense to me. With a little modification in my cooking technique, now I am making ribs that my friends and family beg for!
This technique combines the use of the oven (or indirect heat on the grill), ribs wrapped in foil to contain heat and moisture (a trick pro grillers use in competition after starting them on the grill), and finishing them with a cooked-on glaze. Man, oh man, these are some amazing ribs that any home cook can make – all year round!
So I used my regular dry rub, some Stubb’s BBQ sauce (gluten-free), used the new technique and invited some friends over for dinner. Everyone was mesmerized. I know, that sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. We picked up the ribs, took a bite and there was total silence at the table. A couple of bites in and the murmurs of pleasure started, and then we were all talking at once!
The meat came off the bone with the barest pull, giving a delightful “bite” as our teeth sank in. The meat cleanly pulled away from the bone just as I had hoped it would. The flavor of the dry rub, cooking juices, and the sauce was delectable. And most importantly, the ribs were moist and tender. Complete success!
These can be finished either on the grill or in the oven. This round I glazed them on the grill, but you can also use your broiler. It is wonderful to know that we can enjoy “barbecued” ribs all year long, even when the weather is miserable, without having to fight the elements. My friends who live in snow country will be thrilled, LOL.
The Artist, our friends, and I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and I know you will too!
And these ribs have even traveled across the Pacific Ocean, on a sailboat headed for Hawaii. The crew said that this was their favorite meal of the entire trip – a real treat when surrounded by nothing but water and no grill in sight!
Key Ingredients for Melt in Your Mouth BBQ Ribs:
- Baby back pork ribs
- Brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt
- Smoked paprika, ancho chile powder, cumin, cayenne
- BBQ sauce
Be really careful as you open the foil packet with the ribs in it. They create a lot of liquid from the steam and juices while they cook. I set a second baking sheet next to the one the ribs are on and used tongs to carefully open the tightly sealed pack (avoid the steam!). Then transferred the ribs to the clean tray and poured the liquid into a saucepan to reduce.
How to make Melt in Your Mouth BBQ Ribs:
- Remove the silverskin from the ribs and make the dry rub
- Rub the ribs on both sides with the dry rub and wrap in foil
- Bake about 2 hours until tender; carefully open foil packet
- Reduce the cooking liquid and mix with BBQ sauce; brush over the ribs and broil or grill for a few minutes
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links):
Seasonings from Penzey’s and McCormick are clearly labeled with their ingredients and the entire line of Stubb’s products are gluten-free. Always read the labels and if in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
- 4 lb baby back pork ribs (about 2 racks)
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ancho chile powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Cayenne (optional)
- 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce (all Stubb’s sauces and rubs are gluten-free) or homemade (here is my favorite recipe - http://theheritagecook.com/root-beer-bbq-sauce/)
- NOTE: This makes enough rub for 2 racks of ribs - cut in half for a single rack
- Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300°F (325°F if you are stacking two racks on top of each other). Set out two sheets of aluminum foil longer than the racks of ribs, one on top of each other. Set another two sheets of foil to the side.
- Prep the Ribs: On the underside of the ribs, look for a whitish membrane called the silverskin. If your butcher hasn’t removed it, you should because it is very tough. Cut a slit in the center of the ribs just through the membrane. Open the slit and work your fingers or a dull knife underneath, loosening it from the meat. Work from the center out to the edges until you can grasp the silverskin. Use a paper towel to give you more traction and pull it off the ribs. Repeat with the other half of the silverskin. Fine Cooking has a demonstration of another method of removal.
- Make the Dry Rub: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, chile powder, garlic and onion powders, salt, paprika, and cumin. Add the cayenne if using. Mix together with a fork until well blended.
- Set up Ribs: Rub the dry rub mixture on both sides of the racks of ribs. Lay the seasoned ribs, meaty side down, on the double layer of foil. if you have two racks to cook, you can stack them one on top of the other. Set the second two sheets of foil on top of the ribs. Pinch the edges of the bottom and top layers of foil together and roll toward the ribs, sealing them tightly.
- Cook Ribs: Place the rib packet on a baking sheet. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours (2-1/2 to 3 hours for full-sized, St. Louis-style ribs) or until the meat shrinks, exposing more of the ends of the bones. When opening the packet to check on the ribs, be very careful not to get burned by the trapped steam. Remove ribs from the oven. Preheat the broiler or heat up your outdoor grill.
- Very carefully open the foil packet, being careful to avoid the steam and hot liquid. Remove ribs from the foil packet and cut into 2 or 3 ribs per section. Pour the cooking liquid from the foil packet into a saucepan and reduce by half and slightly thicken over medium-high heat, stirring often. Add the BBQ sauce to the pot and whisk together.
- Glaze Ribs-in the Oven: To glaze ribs in the broiler, place ribs back on the baking sheet, meat side down. Brush with the BBQ glaze and broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until glazed and bubbly. Remove from the oven, turn the rib pieces over, brush with the glaze and return to the broiler. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Glaze Ribs-on the Grill: To finish the ribs on the grill, brush the hot grates lightly with a paper towel with oil on it. Brush the bony side of the ribs with the glaze and place on the grill, meaty side up. Brush the sauce on the ribs, close the lid and cook on medium-high until the glaze is cooked on, about 2 minutes. Flip the ribs over and finish cooking another minute or two.
- Serve ribs hot with extra glaze passed at the table.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1371Total Fat: 101gSaturated Fat: 30gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 45gCholesterol: 359mgSodium: 1622mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 2gSugar: 35gProtein: 77g
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This post was first shared in Sept 2014. The article was updated in 2020.