How to Cook Fall-Off-the-Bone Ribs in Your Oven at Home

For people with little to no outdoor space, cooking in the summer can be a struggle. Many of the recipes making the rounds this time of year were developed with a grill or smoker in mind. Whether you lack a backyard or just haven’t gotten around to filling it with the right equipment, you don’t have to miss out on barbecue season this year. This recipe from the Institute of Culinary Education is proof that ribs can taste just as delicious when cooked in an oven indoors. 

These pork ribs have all the elements of traditional barbecue cooked over a pit—the only difference is the heat source. To start, preheat your oven to 275°F. Make a seasoning paste by blending vegetable oil with brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, mustard powder, black pepper, and salt. After rubbing the ribs all over with the paste, seal the meat separately in foil and bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes. The low temperature combined with the foil packets is meant to recreate the low-and-slow cooking method of a traditional pit or smoker. 

“When we talk about ribs, we want a low and slow cook on them because we want the connective tissues to have time to come up to temperature and begin to break down,” ICE’s lead recreational chef-instructor Roger Sitrin tells Mental Floss. “So when you seal them in this environment you steam them, and that creates the right amount of heat, the right amount of time—low and slow—for that to happen.”

To finish the ribs in the oven, peel open the top of the foil packets and slather the meat in the barbecue sauce of your choice. Then cook at 400°F for 25 minutes to caramelize the sauce. 

In addition to being more convenient for people with limited cooking gadgets, the oven method is more hands-off compared to grilling. “The beautiful thing about this is that it takes almost no tending on your part,” Sitrin says. “When you cook on the grill you have to stand there and monitor and make sure there’s no flare-ups … [With] this recipe, you put it in the oven, and the more you forget about it the better it’s going to be.” And if you’re cooking for a crowd, that leaves you more time to hang out with the people you’re hosting. 

The Institute of Culinary Education is one of the largest culinary schools on Earth, with campuses in Los Angeles and New York City. Career training programs are available in the culinary arts, pastry and baking arts, and hospitality and hotel management. You can view the full course curricula today on ICE’s website.

Serves 4 to 6

2 racks of pork baby back ribs
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons dry mustard powder
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups barbecue sauce (homemade or store-bought)

  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F.

  2. Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel. Remove any silver skin or membrane from the ribs.

  3. Combine the dark brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Add the vegetable oil and mix until you form a paste. Rub the ribs all over with the spice paste.

  4. Wrap both racks of ribs in foil packets, sealing the edges, making sure the ribs are completely sealed inside. Place the packets on one or two baking sheets, depending on the size of the packets.
  5. Place the ribs in the oven and cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes. You can finish the ribs on the grill or in the oven (see directions for both methods below).
  6. Finishing on the grill: Remove the ribs from foil packets, being careful to reserve the juices. Add the juices to the barbecue sauce and mix well. Place the ribs on a preheated grill and baste with the sauce for another 20 minutes or until the ribs are beginning to fall off the bone.
  7. Finishing in the oven: Cut the foil packets open using kitchen shears and carefully fold back the foil to expose the ribs. Liberally coat the ribs with barbecue sauce. Turn the oven up to 400°F and return the ribs to the oven without rewrapping them. Cook for another 25 minutes or until the ribs begin to fall off the bone.

Michele Debczak

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