Juicy Oven-Baked Barbecue Pork Ribs Recipe

Juicy Oven-Baked Barbecue Pork Ribs Recipe

Craving tender, juicy barbecue pork ribs but don’t have a smoker? This foolproof oven method delivers mouthwatering results with authentic smoky flavor right in your kitchen.

Living in a bustling city can make outdoor barbecuing a challenge. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on delicious, smoky ribs! This oven-baked recipe brings the flavors of the backyard grill indoors. With a flavorful spice rub, a touch of liquid smoke, and a low-and-slow cooking method, you’ll achieve tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs that taste like they came straight from a smoker.

The secret lies in seasoning the ribs ahead of time, which helps keep them moist and infuses them with flavor. A combination of spices and brown sugar creates a delicious bark, while liquid smoke adds that coveted smoky taste. By partially wrapping the ribs during cooking, we speed up the process without sacrificing quality.

Whether you prefer your ribs saucy or dry-rubbed, this recipe has you covered. The result? Succulent, smoky ribs that will have your family and friends begging for seconds!

The Key to Moist, Flavorful Ribs: Seasoning Ahead

Start with St. Louis-cut pork ribs, removing the membrane from the underside for the best texture. Our spice rub combines salt, brown sugar, and a blend of aromatic spices that penetrate the meat as it rests. The salt plays a crucial role, dissolving muscle proteins and helping the pork retain moisture during cooking.

For best results, apply the rub 2-8 hours before cooking. This gives the flavors time to permeate the meat without turning it ham-like. The thin nature of ribs means even a couple of hours of seasoning time can make a big difference in flavor and juiciness.

Creating Smoky Flavor Without a Smoker

To achieve that coveted smoky taste, we turn to liquid smoke. High-quality liquid smoke is made from real wood smoke condensed into liquid form, providing authentic flavor without the need for outdoor equipment.

The key is using liquid smoke sparingly – a little goes a long way. Simply sprinkle it over the ribs and rub it in evenly. This method provides consistent smoke flavor throughout the meat without the need for complicated setups or long brining processes.

The Wrapping Technique: Speed and Tenderness

Wrapping the ribs in foil for part of the cooking process serves two important purposes:

  1. It speeds up cooking time by trapping steam and heat
  2. It helps tenderize the meat more quickly

Our tests showed that partially wrapping the ribs produced the best balance of tenderness, juiciness, and a nicely developed exterior. Unwrapped ribs took longer to cook and had a slightly better bark, but the difference was minimal. The time savings make partial wrapping the winner for most home cooks.

How to Tell When Your Ribs Are Done

Forget about using a meat thermometer for ribs – their thin nature and bones make temperature readings unreliable. Instead, we recommend the toothpick test:

  1. Insert a toothpick or thin skewer into the meat between the bones
  2. If it slides in with little resistance, your ribs are ready

You’re looking for meat that comes off the bone with a gentle tug but doesn’t fall off completely. This ensures your ribs are tender but not overcooked.

Customizing Your Ribs: Sauce or Dry Rub

For the finishing touch, you have two delicious options:

  1. Brush the ribs with our homemade barbecue sauce for a classic sticky, sweet, and tangy flavor
  2. Sprinkle with additional dry rub for a more intense spice profile

Either way, a final blast of high heat creates a delicious caramelized exterior that will have everyone reaching for seconds.

Smoky Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Ribs


For the Spice Rub:

  • 1/3 cup paprika (1 1/2 ounces; 40g)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (2 ounces; 55g)
  • 1/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt (1 1/4 ounces; 35g); for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 2 tablespoons whole yellow mustard seed (1/4 ounce; 8g)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic powder (1/4 ounce; 8g)
  • 1 tablespoon (4g) onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon (4g) dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon (4g) whole coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce (if using):

  • 1 medium yellow onion (6 ounces; 170g), grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) spicy brown mustard
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4ml) Wright’s or Colgin liquid hickory smoke

For the Ribs:

  • 2 whole racks St. Louis–cut pork ribs, not salt brined (about 2 1/2 pounds; 1kg each), not brined
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Wright’s or Colgin liquid hickory smoke, plus more if needed


  1. For the Spice Rub: Combine all spice rub ingredients in a spice grinder. Process to a fine powder, working in batches if necessary.
  2. For the Sauce (if using): In a medium saucepan, whisk together 3 tablespoons spice rub with all sauce ingredients. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Set aside.
  3. For the Ribs: Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs using a paper towel for grip. Generously coat both racks with about 1 cup of spice rub. (Reserve 3 tablespoons if making dry-style ribs.)
  4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon liquid smoke over each rack, rubbing for even distribution. Add more if desired. Wrap ribs in plastic and refrigerate for 2-8 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C) with the rack in the middle position. Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Remove plastic from ribs, wrap each rack in foil, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 2 hours.
  6. Unwrap ribs and discard foil. Return ribs to oven, meaty side up, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours more, until a toothpick easily pierces the meat. (Cooking time may vary based on rib size and oven.)
  7. To Finish: Increase oven to 500°F (260°C). Rub racks with reserved spice rub or brush with sauce. Bake meaty side up for 5-8 minutes until well-browned. Slice between bones if desired and serve, with extra sauce on the side if using.

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