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Tender Oven-Baked BBQ Ribs Recipe

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."

Oven-baked BBQ ribs

Oven-baked BBQ ribs

How to Bake Barbecue Ribs in the Oven

According to a 2007 poll conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 77% of all U.S. households own a grill or smoker. But what if you're among the 23% who don't own a grill? Are you doomed to a bleak existence, void of the comfort of homemade barbecue ribs?

Imagine you're a Midwesterner transplanted in Phoenix and barbecue restaurants are few and far between. Are you out of luck? Or visualize another scenario: It's the dead of winter. Tree limbs, heavy with ice, look like actors bowing during an encore. You can't imagine braving the cold, let alone trudging through the snowdrifts that separate you from your barbecue grill. But you can't stop thinking about tender, saucy, melt-in-your-mouth ribs.

Take heart! Although barbecuing is synonymous with grilling in the United States, the original definition of "barbecue" was to slow-cook meat over an indirect heat source, such as in a pit heated with charcoal or wood. This method was developed to tenderize tough cuts of meat. Although your Master Griller may beg to differ, it's not sacrilege to roast ribs in the oven. Any time of year, almost anywhere you live, you can enjoy a finger-licking barbecue feast.

The first challenge: Find an irresistible barbecue sauce. Please check out my top five regional BBQ sauce recipes and make your selection before proceeding with the recipe.

Oven-Baked BBQ Ribs

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

3 hours

3 hours 30 min

6 servings


  • 4 pounds pork or beef spareribs or country-style pork ribs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup paprika, smoked if available
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, chipotle if available
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne (optional)
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce


  1. Combine sugars and spices.
  2. Pour rub on both sides of ribs. Wrap ribs in aluminum foil, in a single layer, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. You should have two foil packets.
  3. The next day, remove ribs from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 350˚F.
  4. Open foil packets and pour about one cup of barbecue sauce over each slab of ribs. Carefully re-seal foil packets. Place ribs on two baking sheets and slide into preheated oven, on oven racks in the highest position.
  5. After ribs have baked for an hour, flip them over.
  6. After ribs have baked another hour, open foil packets. Pour another cup of barbecue sauce over each slab of ribs and return them to the oven, uncovered.
  7. Bake ribs for one more hour, basting every 20 minutes with more barbecue sauce if so desired.
  8. Serve ribs with extra sauce on the side.

© 2012 Vespa Woolf