BBQ Baby Back Ribs

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a barbeque purist when it comes to ribs. While I’ve had (and made) excellent ribs that have been cooked carefully over indirect heat, over charcoal in a good grill, I’ve far more frequently had chewy, undercooked, dessicated ribs that no amount of slathered sticky-sweet sauce out of a bottle could remedy. Several problems arise when “ribbing it” over coals: you’ve got to tend the fire frequently and carefully, you’ve got to keep it basted, and you have to deal with “rib stickage” from the caramelized sugars of the BBQ sauce. A big mess and uncertain results, for sure.

Yes, it’s possible to make awesome ribs in the oven!

Baby back ribs benefit from moisture. Low heat and moisture, working in tandem, are what break down the connective tissues that keep the meat attached to the ribs. To have tender, flavorful, moist ribs you need the ribs to cook slow and low and moist. I have found, over hundreds of batches of baby backs, that the best and most reliable method is the oven-method. This is foolproof and simple, with killer results. And no messed up grill and no (for chrissake!) pre-boiling.

I probably should have posted this recipe prior to Memorial Day weekend, but I was pretty damn busy leading up to that day getting a big party together for my client in Malibu. But summer hasn’t even started yet, leaving you, noble Omnivorous reader, plenty of time to try this rib recipe.

You will require a dry rub, a bbq sauce of some kind, some heavy duty sheet pan, parchment paper, heavy duty aluminum foil, a wide pastry brush, and an oven. You can use the provided recipes for a simple all-purpose BBQ dry rub for pork or poultry and an Asian-inflected BBQ sauce. Or create and use your own!

How To:

Let’s say you’re going to cook two racks of baby backs. First thing to do is to trim and prep your ribs. Remove the fibrous membrane from the underside of the ribs. This is kind of a pain since you need to force your fingers up under the membrane (I’ve heard it referred to as the “fell”) and peel it off forcefully. You might be able to cajole your butcher to do this for you, if you’re nice about it. Now, using a sharp knife) cut your rack, which is usually about sixteen to seventeen usable ribs, into two eight-rib half-racks.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Season your ribs liberally with the dry rub on all sides. Line sheet pans (probably one for each rack) with parchment paper and lay ribs, curve-up on the paper. You can overlap them just a little if you need for them to fit. You can add a drop or two of liquid smoke in the pan if you’d like at this point. I’ve done it on occasion and the end result is nice but faint.

Cover and seal well the sheet pans with heavy-duty foil. Make sure each pan is very tightly wrapped! Put sheet pans on racks in the oven and cook for three hours. Remove pans from oven and cool on wire racks, unwrapped, on the counter for 45 minutes. During this period DO NOT open the foil.

Gently unwrap the ribs. They should be cool enough to handle. Now baste the ribs all over with BBQ sauce. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Baste the ribs generously. Not a very sharp pic, I’m afraid.

Line a clean sheet pan with parchment paper and inset a wire rack (wire rack is optional but helpful for heat distribution) into the pan. Roast ribs for about ten minutes until nicely charred. When cool enough to handle, slice rack into individual ribs. Baste with a bit more sauce if you feel like.

The results are fantastic, truly yumlicious! Please try this recipe. It’s so easy it’ll give you the confidence to make killer ribs whenever the mood strikes. Perhaps all summer long you’ll be “ribbing it”!

Right out of the oven, charred and lovely.





Basic Dry Rub (this will make way more than you need)


  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

Mix all dry ingredients together.

Five-Spice BBQ (this will make way more than you need)


  • 2 cups ketchup 
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese sweetened black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne   

    Mix all ingredients together in a medium pot. Over medium-low heat cook for about an hour, whisking occasionally. 

2 thoughts on “BBQ Baby Back Ribs

  1. First time we made these, we used your dry rub and our own sauce. This time we’re going all out and making your sauce as well. Smells amazing!

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