Oven Baked BBQ Spare Ribs

oven baked spare ribs

Craving BBQ ribs but you don’t own a smoker or grill? Maybe you do but the weather is frightful outside…no problem, you can make oven baked pork spare ribs. Baked low and slow, this recipe produces lip smacking good ribs that are fall-off-the-bone tender and succulent.

Fall-off-the-bone tender oven baked spare ribs are perfect when you can’t cook outside. What is especially nice is how simple they are to prepare. The secret to creating great ribs of any kind is the rub. Truth be told, anyone can make one by mixing together a few spices, most of which you probably already have in your panty. All you need to do to create these delicious ribs is rub the spice mix on the meat, wrap tightly in foil and bake low and slow to retain the juices. After 4 or 5 hours, depending on the size of the ribs you are using, they become so tender they will almost fall off the bone. Barbecue sauce, either homemade or store bought, is then brushed on top and they are broiled until the sauce caramelizes.

Raised on a ranch in a small town outside of Houston, Texas, I grew up eating barbecue often. Just “down the road” from where we lived was the Swinging Door, a down home, back to basics barbecue restaurant with its own dance hall where you could eat, enjoy a Lone Star beer and dance the Texas two-step. Over the years, it became one of the Houston area’s most famous barbecue joints.

There are as many spice rubs, barbecue sauces and methods to cook pork ribs as there are home cooks and pit masters. While I would never be able to cook pork spare ribs like the ones prepared in the big smokers at the Swinging Door, when I’m hungry for ribs these oven baked spare ribs make me happy.

Pork spare ribs are traditionally served at barbecue restaurants in Texas but you can also use this same recipe for baby back ribs, they just won’t take quite as long to cook. You may also decide to only go with a dry rub and serve sauce on the side, that is usually the way it is done in Texas and what I actually prefer. If so, make a little extra spice rub and add a little more after the meat is almost cooked so you get a nice crispy crust. To my taste, perfect ribs are not too messy or coated with too sweet of a sauce. The meat should also have caramelized edges and pull easily off the bones and that is what this recipe creates.

oven baked spareribs
Tender Oven Baked BBQ Spareribs With Jalapeño Ranch Beans And Homemade Potato Salad

Oven Baked BBQ Spare Ribs

Serves 2 (a serving being 1/2 rack per person), adjust the recipe accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 250 – 275 degrees (depending on your oven calibration).

  • 1 rack of pork spare ribs (I used St. Louis style ribs)
  • dry rub mix (see below)
  • 1 c. barbecue sauce (homemade or your favorite store bought)

Early in the day, remove the membrane from the back of the ribs and cut the rack in half for easier handling. Season both sides with the dry rub, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 – 2 hours or even overnight. Remove the plastic wrap and wrap the ribs in heavy duty foil or use two layers of regular foil (so bones don’t poke through) leaving enough room for steam to circulate. Seal edges tightly so that the juices can’t escape. Place the foil packets on a foil lined baking pan, meat side up, and place in the oven for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Take out of the oven, remove the foil carefully, place back on the baking pan, meat side up, and dry roast for an additional 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until very tender and a crust has formed. Remove the ribs from the oven, brush with some barbecue sauce and put under the broiler for about 5 minutes until sauce bubbles and starts to caramelize. Watch carefully so that the sauce doesn’t burn. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut between the bones. Serve the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.

Dry Rub

  • 2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on spiciness you want
  • 1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder

If you have a favorite store-bought barbecue sauce, by all means use it. If not, you might want to try my Carolina Style sauce, a sweet and tangy mustard and vinegar based sauce.

Carolina Style BBQ Sauce (makes about 1 cup sauce)

  • 1/2 c. mustard (I use Dijon)
  • 2 tsp. ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix all the ingredients together in a small sauce pan and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Tips:

  1. Use a spice rub for a salty, savory and spicy layer of flavor but do not add too much sugar as it can cause the ribs to have a burnt flavor. If you like sweet ribs, glaze the ribs with a sweet barbecue sauce at the end, Sweet Baby Rays is a popular one.
  2. An average rack of pork spare ribs has 10 to 13 bones and weighs around 3 pounds.
  3. Ribs come in various weights and thicknesses so be aware that cooking times might need to be adjusted.
  4. Start checking the meat at two hours for tenderness.
  5. Low heat (between 250 and 275 depending on your oven) will slowly melt the fat, dissolve connective tissue and convert the pork into tender, flavorful meat.
  6. Pork is considered done when it reaches 145 degrees internally but you also want the ribs to be tender which requires longer cooking. Experts suggest ribs reach a temperature of about 190 degrees.
  7. You can test if the ribs are ready by grabbing the tip of a bone and twisting, it should start to come free from the meat.
  8. If you would like a smokey flavor, you can add a 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke to your BBQ sauce.

****

This oven baked option for cooking pork ribs is great for anyone craving barbecue ribs but doesn’t have a smoker or grill. Even when you do have the proper equipment for cooking ribs outdoors, sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. While you may not obtain that same smoky flavor that is created when ribs are cooked over wood embers, you still get fall-off-the-bone tender BBQ style spare ribs that I think you will enjoy.

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121 thoughts on “Oven Baked BBQ Spare Ribs

  1. Even though I have a grill, I make oven baked ribs often. So delicious and tender. One thing I’ve never made is Carolina BBQ Sauce. I must try your recipe.

  2. I have never cooked ribs in my life – can you imagine? My mother and father often made them in the summer (both spare and short ribs) and I love them. I definitely need to give yours a try… so easy. What have I been waiting for? I think oven baking them takes out a lot of the grilling guesswork!

    1. My goodness, I’m surprised that you haven’t cooked ribs yourself David. Yes, oven baking does take the guesswork out of preparing ribs. If you want a smoky flavor, you can finish them on the grill. 😊

  3. How did you know I’ve been craving BBQ!! The heat has been an issue lately and I’ve been putting it off because I don’t think I can keep the temperature regulated in the smoker. Oven ribs sound like the way to go. I sure do miss the BBQ in KC, we were so spoiled with great bbq, however I haven’t had Carolina style and am anxious to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your rub spices and sauce, it looks and sounds so good!

  4. We love ribs cooked this way! Well, actually we prefer ribs cooked at our local BBQ place, but cooking them at home is second best. 🙂 Nice recipe — thanks.

    1. Hi John, our town has a couple of BBQ places but none that we really like so making them at home is the best option. I’m glad you like the recipe, thank you.

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment about the barbecue ribs, Shy. I’m glad you like the recipes for the rub and sauce as well…they create a lot of flavor.

  5. It’s killing me that I’m not home right now because we’re having ribs tonight and if I was home, I have ALL the ingredients for this delicious rub and here I have — pepper! And salt. And every Italian herb known to humankind! Well, soon! Meanwhile, this looks fabulous and will be especially nice when winter comes!

    1. I’m glad you like the rib recipe Jeanie, do give it a try when you are home and have the availability of a full spice cabinet. Enjoy the remainder of your time at the lake.

  6. My husband always insist on barbecuing our ribs. We haven’t had them for a long time. I love good ribs and I am going to make these soon. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Gerlinde, barbecuing ribs is a wonderful option as it give them that great smoky flavor. When that isn’t an option, making they in the oven is an excellent way when you want ribs. Thank you for your compliment and I hope you will enjoy the recipe.

    1. Hi Carolyn, I’m glad you agree about ribs that are not loaded with sauce being tastier and much less of a mess to eat. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  7. Very nice! I love baby back ribs, and will eager to try out another recipe – also for the sauce. For me, cooking nice and interesting things is what makes one Covid day different from the next.
    I would definitely add that bit of liquid smoke.

      1. I remember lots of September days cooking out on the deck in Maine. Many a time I would have to put a sweatshirt on as the sun started to go down. Enjoy those warm days while they last. 😘

  8. I just had a hunger for ribs this week. I start them in the oven much like yours and then Phil finishes them on the grill. No matter how they are cooked, they are always tasty.

    1. Hi Linda, starting the ribs inside and finishing them on the grill is a winning combination. You should still have nice days to do that in Maine…enjoy!

  9. *big smile* Living alone and in Australia I was doing ‘homework’ in somewhat uncharted waters when I read David Scott Allen’s admission he had never cooked spare ribs at home ! Glory hallelujah, if even some Americans haven’t, perchance I am not so strange !! Actually when pork-loving friends have visited, I have – but usually Australian style, cut into separate ribs and using a honey=soy or other Asian marinade. Have just ‘visited’ two of our major supermarket sites – all do carry the pork . . sometimes in rack form but usually cut up. And among a number of already marinated and dry ribbed offerings both had ‘American Barbecue Style’ available . . . !
    So those in the know do regard the way of cooking as different ! Interesting lesson . . .

  10. I saw ‘oven baked,’ and I thought for sure you were doing a post on beans. 🙂 We love good barbecue after spending many years in KC and eating and cooking it regularly. As you well know, there aren’t a lot of barbecue options here in NH so this recipe is welcome.

    1. Hi Judy, I agree with you about it being hard to find good barbecue in Southern New Hampshire. Unfortunately it is the same where we live now so I make it myself. I’m glad you like the recipe, thank you.

  11. I have used this method for years Karen, it’s always a winner! I make an Asian version too, with a hoisin based BBQ sauce which is a fun change up. Ribs are a favorite around here, we had some last night!
    Jenna

  12. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see your recipe and tips! First, hats off (cowboy preferably) to you in having those great Texas barbecue memories. I’ve never been to Texas and really wouldn’t know where to start but it’s on my Bucket List.

    Pork, especially ribs, is very well priced in the Midwest, especially here at the lake in Southwestern Michigan, where pork, green beans, and corn on the cob are the area’s pride and joy.

    I have always done baby back ribs in the oven year round. Just easier, even in the summer. I recently bought two slabs of spare ribs to make at the lake recently for about 10 guests. I’d never done spare ribs and totally miscalculated the oven time. I had some hungry people. But…they were such a hit and made for such a great summer dinner along with potato salad and garlic bread. I’m doing it again for Labor Day.

    I found your tips to be very much needed. I never wrapped them in foil, just put them in a deep pan and covered with a sheet of foil. I did the rub then, not the night before. Thus…I have changes to make! I make my own rub in the city because I have so many dried spices there so it’s easy. Here, not so many but I have some great rubs from the grocer. For sauce, I buy a bottle and doctor it up with brown sugar, Soy and Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic…I do much the same with my pulled pork which I wrote about in my last blog post.

    Temperature time and measuring is great info as well. Wow-I’ve really been winging it all along, Karen!!! I’ll take some pics and send them to you. Better yet, post on my blog and say, “Courtesy of Back Road Journal”, the sister blog!😂

    Have a great holiday!

    Jane ❤️

    1. Thank you for your kind words Jane, I’m happy to know that my tips were helpful. I hope the ribs turn out just as good as they do for me…I think your family would enjoy them.

  13. This sounds delicious, Karen! We’ve been cooking our ribs in the slow cooker recently (it’s just easy and tasty). It is a nice item to change the menu up with (it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut of the same meals!). 🙂

  14. Karen, I know the Swinging Door very well having to order many a rack of ribs and chopped brisket sandwiches from there. They used to make great dirty rice as well. Good to hear they’re still around.
    Great rib rub recipe and yes dry ribs only for me. Thanks for sharing…

    1. Hi Ron, I can’t believe that we have so many of the same memories of places in Texas. Every time I went home to visit my parents, we went to the Swinging Door. My parents were good friends with the owners and I knew their children…Steve their son, runs the restaurant now. I’m glad you like how I prepare ribs, thank you.

  15. Well THIS was a timely post I must say, Karen! We recently acquired some spare ribs (beef, not pork — lightly bigger and fattier, but “baking them off” first seemed to help) and I’ve been fascinated by the dry-rubs I’ve encountered since we moved to Oklahoma. So much flavor! (Yay for your Texas roots, too.) I’ve also come to appreciate a tasty sauce served on the side. Back in MN where I hail from, everybody “drowned” them in BBQ sauce while they were cooking. No need! Can’t wait to try your delicious combo on the next batch!

  16. You made me want to do barbecue tonight but its still cold here down under so putting the barbie out can be a challenge, but like you said oven can be a great alternative. BTW I do my dry rub nearly the same as yours apart from extra garlic on mine (we love garlic), so I am sure this will be amazing!

    1. Wow Tandy, I had no idea that you ever got snow this time of the year. It sounds like you will have all the spices covered to make the rub. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  17. I’m with you, I also prefer a dry rub on my ribs and not a lot of sloppy BBQ sauce. The steps to these ribs are simple and easy and very similar to the way I cook ribs but I still do them on the Big Green Egg, you do get a touch of smokiness which is awesome. I sure hope I can squeeze in one more rib BBQ before winter hits.

    1. Hoping the weather will cooperate Eva and you will be able to count out a little longer. When you can’t, this is a good way to still enjoy barbecue ribs.

  18. That menu and description of the Swinging Door reminds me of so many visits to various Texas BBQ joints. Some have dance halls attached, some don’t…but they remind me of that good down-home cooking! I think the smell of BBQ is embedded in those walls for eternity. 🙂 This is a good reminder that we can have spare ribs no matter the time of the year. Sounds like a tasty rub for sure – the dry mustard is a requirement!

    1. Hi David, I’m glad you can appreciate the experience of eating at a Texas BBQ joint. The ribs are a great way to enjoy barbecue when it is too cold or rainy outside.

  19. Karen, the link in your name on your comment on my post links to your Blogger profile, not to your blog. Not sure how you would go about changing that. Anyway … I know how to find you!

    What a gorgeous plate of food! And your rub and sauce sound wonderful. I love doing oven-baked ribs, and now you have me craving them!

    1. Thank you Jean for letting me know about the link, I may have it fixed now. I’m doing everything I can think of to be able to comment on my friends that use Blogger. I’m happy that you like the rib recipe. 😘

    1. Hi Denise, Barbecue ribs are a hit for gatherings with friends most anytime of the year…Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day are especially nice. Thank you for your compliment.

  20. I made ribs in the oven just last night! My husband and oldest son love them, so I will definitely give your recipe a try as the flavors in the rub are different. Thank you for the inspiration! (Love those cool menus!) 🙂 ~Valentina
    P.S. I’m loving the “new look” of your site!

  21. The Swinging Door definitely sounds Texan! And those ribs look delicious! 🙂 I lived in Houston for a few years awhile back and really liked a BBQ place called Luther’s–not sure if it’s still there!

    1. Thank you Jo, for your very kind words. I’m glad that you like the new header. It rotates between a back road through the vineyards in Alsace, France to a photo from a famous food market in Germany…I never know which one my readers are seeing. 😊 All is well and I hope the two of you are good too.

  22. Karen!!

    I am having trouble commenting too! 😦

    I make my ribs very similarly – but no foil – I put them on a rack to drain the fat and put a pan of water on the lower shelf for moisture. So good! I like your spice rub!!

    I love your gorgeous photo! Was that taken in Italy? The sunlight is so beautiful!!

    So great to reconnect! – Mary

    1. Hi Mary, I too am happy that we have reconnected…it is nice to see you blogging again. I have two header photos that switch back and forth but if you are talking about the road through the vineyards, I took it in Alsace, France. If it was about the fresh produce, it was taken at a market in Munich, Germany.

  23. Now this is a recipe my husband would love to make. He loves smoking, roasted any meat with a rub. I have the privileged of enjoying his efforts. 🙂 Sending this recipe to him now. Thanks!

  24. Hi Karen, we love BBQ ribs and I’ve probably tried making them least 20 different ways. I love trying new BBQ rib recipes so will add this to my collection. Thank you for commenting on my blog (yay it went through) Our beautiful little granddaughter is almost two weeks old now. Have a great September!

    1. Hi Deb, I’m so happy that I’ve figured a way to be able to comment on your blog again. I hope you will enjoy the ribs if you get a chance to make my version. Congratulations on your lovely little granddaughter.

      1. Thank you Susan, I’m happy to know that you like the new look for my blog. When your weather turns cooler, I really think you will like preparing the pork spare ribs in the over. 😊

  25. There’s nothing like meat falling off the bone of a rib. Great tips and ideas too, thanks Karen. Ps I’m am making these ribs tonight! Can’t wait! Xo

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