Fall-Off-the-Bone Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

Eliza Cross
by Eliza Cross
4 Servings
2 hr 40 min

This is my family's favorite recipe for delectable, meat-falling-off-the-bones, sticky, messy baby back ribs.

Our family’s favorite recipe also happens to be incredibly easy. Most of the cooking time occurs in the oven, where the ribs cook nice and slow until they’re rendered tender and juicy. Then they’re brushed with barbecue sauce and finished on the grill, giving them those distinctive grill marks and the smoky flavor that implies all-day fussing. 

I used baby back ribs, but you can also use this technique for regular spare ribs, which are sometimes called St. Louis-style spareribs; you’ll see a note at the end of the recipe with simple recipe adjustments. Shall we make some ribs?

Begin by using that skinny, curved boning knife in your knife set to remove any excess fat and membranes you can remove easily. It doesn't have to be perfect; just trim things up a bit. 

To cook the ribs, you can use a roasting pan with a rack, or buy a disposable pan with some bumpy places at the bottom. I usually use the disposable pan because clean-up is much easier, but you're probably not as lazy as I am.

Arrange the ribs in the bottom of the pan, and if you’re using a disposable pan put it on a baking sheet for stability. 

Sprinkle the ribs all over liberally with Liquid Smoke. (If you haven’t used it before, Liquid Smoke sounds like the weirdest product! It tastes like wet charred hickory wood chips, and imparts a very pure smoke flavor without any of the work normally involved with smoking meat.) 

Use a brush to distribute the Liquid Smoke all over the ribs. Then sprinkle them with garlic powder, salt and pepper. 

Add 1/3 cup of water to the bottom of the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. I fold together two pieces of foil and make a little seam in the middle to cover the whole pan. 

Tuck the pan in the oven and bake the ribs for 2 hours. Your house will start to smell amazing! Don't be surprised if your neighbors make up excuses to drop by and hang around in the hopes of being invited for dinner.

During the second hour of baking, heat your grill to medium high so that it’s ready when the ribs are done. Brush the grill grate with a little oil (I like peanut oil because it doesn't smoke at high temperatures) to prevent the ribs from sticking.

Remove the ribs from the oven and brush them all over with barbecue sauce. Arrange them on the grill. Cook them for about 6-8 minutes on each side, brushing occasionally with more sauce.

Remove to a platter, tent it with foil and cool for 5 minutes. Then use a sharp knife to cut between each rib. Serve with more sauce on the side.

Enjoy! I hope you love these easy ribs as much as we do.

Fall-Off-the-Bone Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
Recipe details
  • 4  Servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 150 Minutes Total time: 2 hr 40 min
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  • 2 racks baby back ribs, trimmed of excess fat and membrane
  • 1/4 cup Liquid Smoke flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup water
  • peanut oil for brushing grill
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce of your choice

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and move the oven rack to the center of the oven if necessary.
Arrange the ribs in a roasting pan and brush with the Liquid Smoke flavoring on both sides. Sprinkle both sides with the garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Use a measuring cup to pour the water in a corner of the pan. (Don't pour the water over the ribs or the seasonings will wash off!) Cover the pan tightly with foil.
Bake ribs for 2 hours. About 30 minutes before the ribs are done, preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing foil. Transfer the ribs to a large pan or platter and brush all over with barbecue sauce.
Brush the grill grate with peanut oil to prevent sticking. Arrange the rib racks on the grill and cook until grill marks appear and barbecue sauce gets sticky, about 6 minutes per side.
Transfer the ribs from the grill to a pan or platter and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut between the ribs. Serve accompanied with additional barbecue sauce.
  • If using St. Louis-style spareribs, the slabs are usually larger; an average 2.5 pound slab will generally feed about 3 people. Increase the Liquid Smoke, salt, pepper, water and barbecue sauce proportionally, and bake the St. Louis-style ribs for 2.5 to 3 hours in the oven until meat is tender before transferring to the grill.
Eliza Cross
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