Best Barbecue Ribs

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You don’t need a smokehouse and a gazillion hours to make your own award-winningly tender, fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth Barbecue Ribs.

A rack of barbecue ribs on a wooden cutting board.


While I completely respect the rib, as well as the many talented grill masters out there laboring over a low and slow smoker, this recipe is what I make when I want the best, most phenomenal ribs at home.

It frees me up to concentrate on planning the party and figuring out the side dishes, too. If you like ribs, you’ll love these! 

How do you make barbecue ribs in the oven?

My recipe is simple and straightforward. I make a dry rub to season the ribs with, wrap the slabs up in foil, and bake at a low temperature for up to two hours.

After that, I paint on my favorite sauce and broil them right before serving.  

What are the best ribs to use for Barbecue Ribs?

My favorite ribs are pork baby backs, but no matter what kind you choose, make sure to buy a good quality meat.

Talk to your butcher to see what they prefer for how you’ll be cooking them. A smart butcher is worth their weight in… ribs! They can steer you to the best cut, trim them up for you, and generally make the whole process smoother, so you can concentrate on other things, like what kind of sangria to make. 

A rack of barbecue ribs on a wooden cutting board.

What are the different types of ribs?

We all may know what a rib looks like, but what’s the real difference between them? I’ll break it down for you with a brief explanation of the basic players. 

  • Spareribs: these are cut from the bottom of the rib cage, where the belly (and the bacon) is. They tend to be less meaty, but are super juicy. They cook quickly and are tender, too.
  • St. Louis style ribs: A type of sparerib, but without the tips and the meaty brisket flap, so the slabs are uniform in size for even cooking. 
  • Baby back ribs: Super popular, and for good reason. Cut from the top of the rib cage, along the back of the pig. These are meaty, delicious ribs indeed and require some time to cook. Great for the oven.
  • County style ribs: With lots of meat, these are thick cut from either the loin or the shoulder. A lot of people call them chops, and they don’t always include bones. 
  • Loin back ribs: These are taken from the top of the rib cage, closer to the loin; they’re usually smaller and more tender. 

How do you cook Barbecue Ribs on the grill? 

Volumes have been written on this subject alone!

There are devoted grillers who cringe at thinking of foil wrapped ribs on the grill, but it can be done, I promise.

Here’s what I would do, if I had a grill that I was confident in: Lay the tightly foil wrapped ribs on the top rack of the grill set at medium heat (350-450), close lid, and let cook for 1 hour, turning packets every 15 minutes. After about an hour, open the foil, brush ribs with barbecue sauce, and grill an additional 5 minutes to finish.

A rack of barbecue ribs on a wooden cutting board.

Can you make Barbecue Ribs in the slow cooker? 

If you’re thinking of using your slow cooker to make ribs, a couple tweaks to the recipe should be made.

First, I recommend using a meatier cut like baby back ribs. After trimming the membrane off the ribs, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and add them to the cooker.

Fill the cooker with water, a cut up onion, and a few cloves of garlic. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. Preheat your broiler on HIGH, and transfer the cooked ribs to a baking sheet. Coat with the dry rub, then brush with barbecue sauce and broil according to the recipe and broil until bubbly, flipping as needed, 1-2 minutes. 

What are the best side dishes for Barbecue Ribs?

You could try my Cornbread Cakes with Balsamic Tomato Salad, Slow Cooker Baked Beans, Baked Mac and Cheese, or the Best Macaroni Salad ever. Potato Salad, or a Crunchy Broccoli Slaw might be really nice, too!

How do you make tender ribs?

Everyone has their own theory, but mine is to trim, or have your butcher trim, the silver membrane off the back of the ribs. That really allows the dry rub, salt, and seasonings to penetrate the meat. 

Where do you find smoked hickory salt? 

In case you’ve searched high and low to no avail, you can always find it online. If there’s no time, use smoked paprika or liquid smoke, also. 

What’s the best sauce for Barbecue Ribs?

This question is hotly debated, so I promise to fully support whatever BBQ sauce you hold dear. Or you could make your own, if you’re feeling extra ambitious! These ribs are worth it. 

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Barbecue ribs on a wood cutting board.

Best Barbecue Ribs

You don’t need a smokehouse and a gazillion hours to make your own award-winningly tender, fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth barbecue ribs. This recipe is what I make when I want the best, most phenomenal ribs at home. It frees me up to concentrate on planning the party and figuring out the side dishes, too.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 830
5 from 2 votes



  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with two layers of foil.
  • To make the dry rub, in a medium bowl, add brown sugar, smoke salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Whisk to combine.
  • Apply dry rub on all sides of ribs. Arrange ribs meaty-side down on prepared baking sheets. Cover with two more sheets of foil. Crimp top and bottom foil together and roll up tightly to form a seal.
  • Bake until the meat is very tender and begins to pull away from bones, about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Remove from oven.
  • Preheat broiler on HIGH. Cut ribs into 2- or 3-rib portions. Arrange on boiler pan, bone-side up. Brush ribs with barbecue sauce on all sides.
  • Broil until sauce is sticky and bubbly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn over ribs and broil second side.


I recommend removing the thin membrane from the concave side of the ribs. This makes the ribs tastier (the flavors can penetrate fully) and easier to eat (you don’t have to gnaw through the membrane.
To remove the membrane from the ribs, insert a spoon handle between the membrane and the ribs to loosen slightly. Using a paper towel or kitchen towel, grab the loosened membrane tightly and pull away to remove.
If you can’t find hickory salt smoke, brush the ribs lightly with liquid smoke right before baking.


Calories: 830kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 34gFat: 50gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 169mgSodium: 1545mgPotassium: 810mgFiber: 1gSugar: 50gVitamin A: 860IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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