BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Spiced with a smoky-sweet homemade dry rub and finished with your favorite BBQ sauce, these are the Ultimate Fall off the bone BBQ Baby Back Ribs!  Whether slow-roasted in the oven or grilled over hot coals, each bite is more flavorful and tender than the last. There’s nothing like fall-off-the-bone ribs to start this Summer with a splash!  

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Two racks of bbq ribs with one cut into rib servings with a serving of barbecue sauce on the side

It may not technically be Summer yet, but boy am I feeling the Dallas heat! With the temperature steadily climbing towards well, absolute insanity, my mind is on nothing but Summer recipes. From lemonade inspired cakes to fruity hand pies, I’m taking inspiration from warm-weather and creating this season’s tastiest treats.

Today, I’m taking a break from the kitchen and taking the party outside. The grill is hot and this recipe is even hotter! I adore a classic Southern BBQ: cornbread, potato salad, corn on the cob, sweet tea and greatest of ‘em all, Baby Back Ribs. Tender, sweet, smoky ribs coated in rich BBQ sauce is my achilles heel!

Not to toot my own horn but, toot toot! This girl can throw down on the grill and make a mean rack of baby backs. And guess what? I’m gonna prove it to ya!

A close up of bbq ribs sliced and ready to serve with barbecue sauce

The history of BBQ ribs is as diverse as BBQ itself. The path to tender, juicy grilled ribs began in the Caribbean, traveled north by Spanish Conquistadors, moved overseas to the Americas, and then seasoned with flavors brought over by European settlers.

For many years, ribs were made using beef due to the abundance of cattle in America. In 1539, a man by the name of Hernando de Soto brought over America’s first 13 pigs. In three years the flock grew to over 700 pigs, both domestic and wild! Since then, both pork and beef ribs have been a quintessential American food.

The Heart and Soul of the Best BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Cuisine Inspiration: American BBQ with a Homemade Twist

Primary Cooking Method: Grilling/Baking

Dietary Info: High-Protein, Gluten-Free (dependent on spice mix)

Key Flavor: Spicy, Savory, and a Hint of Sweetness

Skill Level: Grill Aficionado (Intermediate to Advanced)

Sweet Highlights:

Perk 1: Spice Heaven: Get ready to dazzle your taste buds! Our homemade spice rub blend brings a unique burst of flavors that will elevate your ribs from great to unforgettable.

Perk 2: Fall-Off-The-Bone Good: With our cooking method, expect ribs so tender and juicy that they practically fall off the bone. It’s comfort food that hugs you right back!

Perk 3: DIY Satisfaction: Nothing beats the gratification of using your homemade spice blend. You’re not just a cook; you’re a creator, a purveyor of flavor, a kitchen magician!

Perk 4: Crowd Pleaser: These ribs don’t just taste fantastic; they’re a full sensory experience. Expect a queue at your grill and a chorus of “Mmmms” around the table.

Perk 5: Flexibility Factor: Rain or shine, summer or winter, our recipe’s got you covered. You can grill ’em up outdoors or oven-bake them to perfection. Weather won’t rain on your parade!

A close up of bbq baby back ribs ready to serve with sauce on top

What Are Baby Back Ribs??

Baby Back Ribs come from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. A rack of baby back ribs should have a minimum of eight ribs but may have as many as thirteen!

Beef Vs. Pork

Though this recipe works with both beef and pork back cuts, I’d like to equip you with the information you need to make a choice.

Pork Ribs

These ribs taste mild, but also have a slightly sweet flavor. Not only do they take to heavy seasoning very well, but their low fat content means more fall-off-the-bone meat! Because pigs have a small ribcage, the size of these ribs will be smaller in comparison.

Beef Ribs

Assuming these ribs are cooked well, the meat should taste beefy and robust. Beef ribs tend to be less meaty, but they make up for it in taste!  If you want beef ribs, definitely check out my Smoked recipe with tons of steps Here.

Baby Back Ribs on grill being brushed with bbq sauce

Ingredients

A rack of baby back ribs is nothing without a good spice rub! A quality rub should not only help to tenderize the meat, but it should also impart a deep, complex flavor profile. Although store-bought rubs can be delicious, I often find they’re either too salty or missing a little something. By throwing together a homemade rub we can ensure it’s well-balanced and tasty as all-heck!

Let’s dig through the pantry together:

  • Brown Sugar- sugar is a natural tenderizer, which means moist, supple meat. The caramelized, molasses-like flavor also pairs well with BBQ sauce.
  • Onion & Garlic Powder- both are sweeter and less-assertive versions of their natural counterparts. They add roasted, caramel like undertones.
  • Smoked Paprika- ribs love to be coated in anything super rich and smoky!
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper- salt helps to develop flavor and tenderize meat. Pepper kicks up the smoky goodness.
  • Cumin- earthy, nutty and somewhat bitter, cumin is perfect for adding dimension and aroma.
  • Cajun Seasoning- boosts the smoky, garlicky, peppery flavor elements that we associate with barbecue and grilling.
  • Chili Powder- adds a mild, herby heat.
  • Mustard Powder- mustard has a clean, tangy flavor that is a perfect counterpoint to rich ingredients like beef.
  • Cayenne Pepper- heat ain’t ever hurt nobody! Well, at least not a few dashes of it anyway.
Three racks of baby back ribs being grilled

How To Grill Baby Back Ribs

Contrary to what you might think, ribs are super-straightforward and easy-to-make. With a killer rub in one hand and a quality rack in the other, you’ve got a stellar grilled dinner in the making. Wanna know how it’s done?

Follow these tips for the BEST Baby Back Ribs ever:

Buy the Right Meat

Avoid slabs of ribs with exposed bones or uneven distribution of meat. You’ll want meat evenly distributed over the rack; the meat itself should be a bright reddish-pink and plump in volume.

Remove the Membrane (Silver Skin)

When preparing your ribs, be sure to remove the silver colored skin from the underside of the ribs. If possible, have the butcher do it for you!

Use Medium-Heat Coals

You’ll want to cook the ribs at a low to medium heat. Going low and slow is the best way to get super-tender, smoky meat.

Watch the Ribs Carefully

Cooking meat on the grill requires constant attention. Stay close to the grill, tongs in hand, and only flip when necessary. Only baste with BBQ sauce in the last 30 minutes of cooking or the sugars will burn along with your ribs.

Rest Your Meat

Let the cooked ribs sit for at least 15 minutes before you serve them! If cut too early the ribs will leak out their juices and become dry. Serve with extra BBQ sauce.

A close up of bbq rib racks after being grilled

What Kind of BBQ Sauce Should I use?

If you ask me, BBQ sauce is the best part about Baby Back Ribs. There’s nothing like smoky, spicy, molasses-ey barbecue sauce that sticks to your fingers and makes a home on the corners of your mouth. Your choice of sauce will give the ribs all the saucy personality it needs!

I love using a sauce that’s on the sweeter side with spicy, earthy notes.  For store bought, I love Sweet Baby Ray’s brand.

Try out a Chipotle-Blackberry, Mango Habanero or a Smoked Cherry sauce! If you can’t get your hands on any of those, no worries: use any BBQ you’ve got on hand.

Sides to Serve With

We’ve already started a party, why not keep it going? BBQ Baby Back Ribs are best served with an assortment of simple, full-flavored sides. Serve up some of the South’s best or make it your own!

Top off this epic BBQ spread with a light, refreshing dessert! If you’ve come this far, a little something sweet won’t kill ya, right?

Best Grilled Recipes

Get it while it’s hot! Why turn down the heat when you can put the grill to work? Try out a few of Grandbaby Cakes’ BEST grilled meats and treats:

A close up of bbq baby back ribs ready to serve with sauce on top

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Spiced with a smoky-sweet dry rub and finished with BBQ sauce, these are the Ultimate BBQ Baby Back Ribs!  You can slowly bake or grill these over hot coals!
4.78 from 36 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 8-10 lbs pork baby back ribs (you can also cut the recipe in half if you are cooking for a smaller group)

For the Dry Rub

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cajun seasoning
  • 4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Oil cooking spray

For Final Basting

  • BBQ sauce use your fave or homemade

Instructions

  • Properly rinse ribs and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Turn the rack of ribs bone side up. Using a sharp small knife, slip it between the membrane and the bone then remove the membrane. It should pull right off after you get some momentum.
  • In a plastic bag, shake together brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, cajun seasoning, black pepper, smoked paprika, kosher salt, cumin, chili powder, mustard powder and cayenne pepper until combined.
  • Line a large baking sheet with non-stick foil and lay one of the racks of rib on top. Make sure the foil is longer than the rack.
  • Spray the outside of the rack of ribs with oil spray then massage dry rub into each side of the ribs.
  • Cover the ribs with the foil and wrap tightly then store in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

To Grill Ribs

  • Make sure to properly oil the grates of the grill so the meat won’t stick.
  • Once the grill is ready and hot, place the ribs bone side down on the grill over indirect heat. Grill covered for an 1 ½ hours then turn them over and grill for an additional 1 ½ hours still over indirect heat.
  • Make sure you are checking every now and again on the ribs to make sure they don’t stick or burn if they get close to direct heat. After 3 hours or so, the ribs should be super tender. If not, continue for an additional 30 minutes. The ribs should have an internal temperature of 145°F.
  • Transfer the ribs to direct heat and brush with bbq sauce on both sides. Grill uncovered for 5-10 minutes then remove.

To Bake Ribs

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Bake ribs for 2 ½ hours. Check to see if they are incredibly tender. If not, leave covered and allow to bake an additional 30-45 minutes. The ribs should have an internal temperature of 145°F.
  • Drain the excess fat from the ribs then apply bbq sauce to both sides.
  • Turn your oven on to broil and allow the sauce to stick to the ribs then remove.

Notes

You’ll want to cook the ribs at a low to medium heat. Going low and slow is the best way to get super-tender, smoky meat.
Cooking meat on the grill requires constant attention. Stay close to the grill, tongs in hand, and only flip when necessary. Only baste with BBQ sauce in the last 30 minutes of cooking or the sugars will burn along with your ribs.
Let the cooked ribs sit for at least 15 minutes before you serve them! If cut too early the ribs will leak out their juices and become dry. Serve with extra BBQ sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 554kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 131mg | Sodium: 808mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1038IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 2mg
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Filed Under:  Father's Day, Fourth of July, Grilling, Holidays, Main Dishes, Pork

Comments

  1. These look like the best bbq baby back ribs ever and has me itching to hop on the grill tomorrow!

  2. AMAZING ribs. The dry rub was super easy and fun to make.
    I baked them in the oven and they were the juiciest and most flavorful ribs I have ever had, and I have had ALOT!
    The oven method is great and super easy. Then after they slow baked for 3 hours you broil the sauce on so they get carmelized and crispy. I’m getting hungry just talking about them again.
    And if you make the ribs you MUST make the Mac and cheese, together its a dream meal!

  3. I’ve never made ribs before but was craving them so I decided to give it a go. Tried this recipe and it did not disappoint! Ribs fell off the bone, they were so tender and I almost didn’t want to put sauce on them because the rub was so on point butobviously I did, because…BBQ sauce 🙂

  4. The best ribs I’ve ever had!!! Do not hesitate to make this recipe! This us crave-worthy! And easy!

  5. These are the ribs to fight for. Fantastic recipe to keep handy for a night with friends. Definitely a keeper!

  6. It’s hot here too so that grill is getting fired up. You just can’t go wrong with ribs and I am using your dry rub. I need to up my rib game to something better.

4.78 from 36 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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