Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: March 23, 2022

Fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs are, just like the name says, fall-off-the-bone tender. They are cooked low and slow in the oven, which makes them a perfect choice year-round.

If you have a family gathering or friend get-together, these will wow everyone.

I’ve been a fan of back ribs for a while, but I struggled with getting them right. I often ended up with dried meat or something that was lacking in flavor.

After a couple of years of perfecting my recipe, I can confidently say that I finally mastered it.

I’ll share my tips and tricks, as well as the complete rib recipe, so you too can make delicious and tender baby back ribs.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Start by removing the membrane to have super tender baby back ribs.
  • You can cook baby back ribs in the oven, on charcoal, or on a gas grill.
  • Serve the meat warm, on the bone, on a big platter.

Remove the Membrane

Removing the membrane of baby back ribs

Removing the membrane is optional. If you like your ribs to have some chewiness to them, leave the membrane on.

On the other hand, if you love tender ribs, remove the membrane.

Since I want to achieve that fall-off-the-bone effect, I always remove the membrane before I start cooking.

Note: Check the meat first. In some cases, butchers remove the membrane in advance, so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Use kitchen scissors to cut the far left side and then pull to remove the membrane. You can also use a sharp table knife and slip the tip between the membrane and the bone along the edge of the rib slab.

Lift the membrane and then use your fingers to pull it away from the bones.

“Some people don’t like to pull the membrane off, but I do. Get a knife and make a cut, then get a towel and get a hold of it. Some are a little easier than others to get off. Pulling the membrane off helps get the seasoning inside the meat.” - Dutch Eats, YouTube Channel

Pro tip: Since the membrane is very slippery, you can use a paper towel to take hold and pull it off [1].

If you remove the membrane, the dry rub will penetrate both sides of the meat better.

Related: 11 Ways To Sharpen A Knife Without A Sharpener

Fall-off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs Recipe

Bab back ribs on smoker

Now that the membrane is removed, it is time to start cooking the meat. First, check if you have the ingredients for the ribs, the dry rub, and the barbecue sauce.

1. Ingredients

1.) Ribs

Here’s what you need for the ribs:

  • 1 rack pork baby back ribs (with the membrane removed)

2.) Dry Rub 

Here’s what you need for the dry rub:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika

  • 1 tablespoon black ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

3.) Barbecue Sauce

These are the ingredients for the BBQ sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ cup ketchup 
  • ¼ cup evenly sliced onion

 

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

2. Cooking Instructions

Close up baby back ribs image and oven

Follow these steps when preparing fall-off-the-bone oven-baked ribs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
  2. Take out a large baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil.
  3. While the oven is preheating, rinse the ribs and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  4. Make the dry rub for most tender ribs. Take out a medium bowl. Mix garlic powder, onion slices, salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, brown sugar, cumin, and chili powder.
  5. Rub the ribs well with your fingers. Make sure both sides are evenly coated.
  6. Brush the ribs with olive oil to make sure the dry rub stays in place and the ribs are tender.
  7. Place ribs bone side down (meat side up) in a large roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. If you need to, cut the ribs in half to fit them into the pan.
  8. Use aluminum foil and cover the ribs tightly. Cook them for 2 and a half to 3 and a half hours. At the 2-hour mark, check the internal temperature to see how the meat is progressing.
  9. While the bone ribs are baking, you should make the BBQ sauce. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, and then add onion. Distribute onion slices evenly and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the liquid smoke, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring. Put aside until ribs finish cooking.
  10. After the ribs are done, turn off the oven, take the ribs out, and remove the aluminum foil. Baste both sides with the BBQ sauce.

If you like caramelized BBQ sauce, move the oven rack up and turn on the broiler. Broil for up to 4 minutes until the BBQ sauce is caramelized, but keep a careful eye on the baby back ribs, so the sauce doesn't burn.

3. Nutritional Information

One serving of a baby back rib dish

The recipe yields 6 servings. Here’s the bone ribs nutrition info per serving:

  • Calories: 640
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbohydrate: 21g
  • Cholesterol: 125mg
  • Total fat: 30g

  • Saturated fat: 8g
  • Sugar: 16g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sodium: 1801mg

How to Make Fall-off-the-Bone Ribs on the Grill

Grilling baby back ribs outdoor

If you prefer grilling to cooking in the oven, you can make your BBQ ribs on charcoal or a gas grill.

Don’t worry; you can use the same simple recipe from above.

The same rule applies as with oven-baked ribs — first, remove the membrane. Here, you can apply just the rub. The barbecue sauce is optional.

If you’re cooking ribs on charcoal, let one side get to medium or low heat, and place the ribs on the non-heated side.

The BBQ ribs’ cook time is 2 to 3 hours, so be prepared to add some coals occasionally, but don’t let the grill get too hot.

You’ll probably have to cook the BBQ ribs longer on the charcoal than if you’re cooking on the gas grill. Once the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees, they should be ready.

How to Serve It

Chopped baby back ribs on wooden board

To serve your ribs, cut them into individual pieces, and serve warm on the bone on a big platter.

You can also remove the bone and use the meat in salads, wraps, sandwiches, or quesadillas.

If you’re having a BBQ party, you can serve them on a platter and put more BBQ sauce or a jar of honey next to the ribs for drizzling.

Bone back baby ribs are a delicious recipe on their own, but you can serve them with other food as well. My favorite side dishes include:

  • Potatoes — A potato salad or mashed potatoes compliment ribs very well.
  • Cold starch — Make a pasta salad with vegetables.
  • Mac and cheese or cheesy zucchini rice — Cheesy side dishes also go very well with baby back ribs.
  • Bacon-wrapped brussels sprouts — To add some vegetables to the dish.

Feel free to experiment with other recipes for side dishes. The options are endless, and you never know what side dish you’ll like best.

Tips on Cooking Baby Back Ribs

Top view baby back rib dish

Here are some of my tips to bake ribs that you may find helpful:

  • You should cook the ribs until the internal temperature reaches 190 to 205 degrees. While the ribs themselves are cooked at 145 degrees, the fat breaks at 190 to 205 degrees. This is what gives you a juicy fall-off-the-bone baby ribs effect.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, use tongs to pull the meat off the bone. If the meat pulls off easily, your ribs are done.
  • Once the ribs are done cooking, broil them for a couple of minutes to get a caramelized finish.
  • Bake the ribs in a ceramic casserole dish — a ceramic dish pan helps keep everything in it moist.
  • You can use your favorite bottled sauce (such as Sweet Baby Rays) or make your own barbecue sauce. If you like it spicy, you can add some red or cayenne peppers.
  • Generously coat the ribs with salt and pepper, and add a spice rub if you want more flavor.
  • If you have leftover barbecue sauce, you can keep it in the fridge for up to five days and use it as a dip or with chicken or a burger.
  • If you have leftover ribs, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • You can use other kinds of ribs, such as spare ribs or country-style ribs.

Fall-off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs: Final Thoughts

No matter if you prefer grilling or slow cooking when preparing your baby back ribs, you’ll love this recipe. You’ll have fall-off-the-bone tender meat that will melt in your mouth.

Don’t forget to cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil to preserve all the juices. Also, if you’re making BBQ ribs on a charcoal grill, check that the coals burn with a faint red glow.

If you want to make a double batch of ribs, just make sure to double all the ingredients.

Follow the instructions I’ve outlined above for some of the best ribs you’ve ever had.


References:

  1. https://www.weber.com/US/en/grill-skills/mastering-pork/ribs/removing-the-membrane

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