Succulent and tender, spare ribs are some of our favorite barbecue items. And thanks to recipe developer Mackenzie Ryan of Food Above Gold, you won’t have to visit your local pit master to enjoy them!
Ryan relies on St. Louis-style ribs, also known as spare ribs, to make this dish. They are meatier and fattier than back ribs, and as an added bonus, they also tend to be cheaper. "This means you get more flavor and feed more people for less money," says Ryan. "On the downside, they aren’t quite as tender as back ribs, so they need to be cooked correctly to achieve the same fall-off-the-bone, fork-tender texture."
Luckily, Ryan is here to show you exactly how to prepare them. This recipe is easy and delicious, and best of all, the whole recipe can be made in the oven — no outdoor grill required. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make these ribs on the grill. You just may need to be a touch more attentive.
"They require both indirect and direct heat on a grill, so cooking them in the oven is the easiest for a beginner," explains Ryan. "Especially if you prefer a charcoal grill where you have a little less control over the temperature than a gas grill."
Gather the ingredients for oven-baked spare ribs
To make these spare ribs, you will, of course, need ribs! Two whole racks of St. Louis-style ribs should serve about five people easily. To season them, you’ll be relying on a dry rub, which you can either purchase or make at home. "If I make my own, I love a dry rub that has bright and tangy flavors like ground coriander," says Ryan. "If I buy store-bought, I tend to use ones with intense flavor depth, like a coffee rub."
You’ll also need barbecue sauce — and here, again, you can choose to opt for store-bought it or make the sauce yourself. "Making your own barbecue sauce gives you complete control over the flavor profile, making sure that you can get the perfect balance of sweet, heat, and acid," says Ryan. "However, there isn’t always the time to dedicate to it, so a nice Kansas City-style barbecue sauce from the store does the trick nicely."
A touch of salt and pepper and, if desired, a cup of your favorite beer, cider, or juice round out the ingredients list for this recipe.
Rub the spare ribs with the dry rub seasoning, and bake
To begin making these spare ribs, first preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven heats up, it’s time to infuse the ribs with flavor. Pat them dry and rub them generously with dry rub, salt, and pepper on all sides. Cover tightly with foil, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 90 minutes.
Ryan notes that if you want to add even more flavor to the ribs, you can add a cup of your favorite beer, cider, or juice to the pan. Just be careful when maneuvering the hot pan out of the oven if you do — you don’t want to burn yourself on the hot liquid.
Brush the spare ribs with barbecue sauce
After an hour and a half, your kitchen will be smelling pretty heavenly, but you’re not done yet. Remove the ribs from the oven and unwrap them, then generously brush with barbecue sauce on both sides.
At this point, Ryan notes you may want to break out a new baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This way, the barbecue sauce won’t dirty the pan, and cleanup will be far easier. Either way, place the ribs on a baking sheet, bony side up, and continue baking for 30 more minutes.
You’re almost done! When 30 minutes are up, remove the ribs from the oven, and drain the fat and juices into a small bowl. Return the ribs to the pan one last time, this time meaty side up. Drizzle the fat and juices over the top, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until crusty and caramelized.
Slice and serve the ribs
All of your waiting has finally paid off, because it’s time to tuck in! Remove the ribs from the oven and allow to sit for a moment while you heat up some extra barbecue sauce. Then, simply cut the racks into individual ribs or portions and serve.
These ribs are delightful on their own, but you can also serve them with your choice of classic barbecue sides. Biscuits, cornbread, mac and cheese, coleslaw, or baked beans all make lovely accompaniments.
- ½ cup dry rub mixture
- 2 racks St. Louis-style spare ribs
- 16 ounces barbecue sauce
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup of your favorite beer, cider, or juice
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the spare ribs from their packaging and pat dry. Rub both sides of the ribs with the dry rub seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Place the ribs on a baking sheet and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Add liquid to the pan if desired, and bake for 90 minutes.
- Take the ribs from the oven and remove the foil. Generously brush both sides of the ribs with some of the barbecue sauce, and put back on the baking sheet with the bony side up. Bake for another 30 minutes. (Cleanup is easier if you transfer the ribs to a new baking sheet lined with parchment paper.)
- Drain the fat and juices from the pan into a small bowl. Flip the ribs so they are now meaty side up, and drizzle the fat and juices over the top. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the coating of sauce gets crusty and caramelized.
- Remove from the oven and cut into individual ribs or portions. Serve with warmed barbecue sauce on the side.