Ribs are a staple for a lot of summer time get togethers. This rib recipe will be the start of your summer BBQ, and any other meal you serve it throughout the year.
I never quite understood the name “spare ribs.” Do pigs have another set of ribs and this is the spare in case they lose the other set? Of course they don’t, yet we still call them spare ribs. Maybe I’m the only one that wonders about these things.
Regardless of what we’ve chosen to name them, spare ribs (or any ribs) seem to be a staple at BBQs all summer long.
They typically grace our family’s Fourth of July feast each year alongside baked beans and other BBQ must haves. It’s one of the best things about the Fourth of July! And, of course, the fireworks celebrating the United States’ independence. But for me, the food takes center stage every time.
The Instant Pot Disappointment
Ribs are excellent grilled, smoked, or baked. The only time I can say I wasn’t a big fan of ribs was when I tried them cooked in an Instant Pot.
It’s not that they didn’t turn out tender, I just didn’t think they had the best flavor and there was no crisp to them. I like my ribs to have a bit of a crisp. Falling off the bone tender is great, and is really what we’re aiming for here, but without that crispy outer layer it just wasn’t the same.
After that disappointment, I’ve never cooked them in the Instant Pot again. It may take a bit longer to smoke, grill, or bake them. But for me, that extra time is well worth taking.
My preferred method of cooking ribs of all kinds is to smoke them. Unfortunately, we don’t have a smoker so that option is only available when we get invited to the in-laws for a rib dinner. And boy does my father-in-law make some good ribs!
The ribs that are the center of this post, however, were baked and turned out mighty fine if I do say so myself. Fall apart delicious with that crispy layer it’s obvious I love.
You Can Ditch the BBQ Sauce For These
A lot of people use BBQ sauce on their ribs. And I’m not going to say anything bad about that. A good BBQ sauce is excellent on ribs! But tonight, I decided not to go that route. My husband, the chef, has a BBQ rub he put together, so I used his rub and added a bit of flare of my own.
The result was ribs that didn’t even need the addition of BBQ sauce. No one would fault you for adding the sweet, sticky, delicious sauce of course. It just wasn’t necessary to give these ribs a flavor that will have you going back for seconds.
Preparing The Ribs
Preheat the oven to 350℉, 176℃.
Start with a good rack of spare ribs, a nice meaty one is best. I had picked these one up at the store on sale but would have preferred it come from a local pig. We just don’t have the freezer space yet to store bulk meat, so grocery store it is for now.
Take a baking sheet with sides and line it with aluminum foil. I’m not usually a big fan of aluminum foil, since aluminum is quite bad for your health, but in this case I made an exception.
There’s a lining along the bottom of the ribs, use a knife to separate it from the ribs and take it off. You can take it off after baking as well if you prefer. I’ve forgotten before I placed the ribs in the oven and nothing catastrophic happened.
Lay the rack on the lined baking sheet, meaty side up.
The Right Spices Make The Ribs Shine
In a separate bowl, mix your spices together. The recipe I have listed below is probably going to make more than you need for one rack of ribs. Unless you have a giant rack, or are making more than one, it’s a good idea to have a small jar or something to store it in. It’ll be ready for your next rib adventure!
For these ribs the spice mixture was quite complex. Not complex as in hard, just complex as in there are lots of flavors melding together. These flavors work perfectly together, but if there is one in here you don’t like, feel free to leave it out. Or add something you do like on ribs.
One of my favorite things about cooking is that it is truly a versatile art; pretty much any dish can be altered to your tastes. This one is no exception.
My mixture included brown sugar, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, mustard powder, and coriander. How much of each is listed in the recipe below.
Take the spice mixture and spread it evenly over the ribs. I like to cover it really well with the spices, but feel free to use a lighter hand if you prefer. Rub it in to the meat, that’ll help it really give a nice flavor to the entire rib.
Baking the Ribs
When your oven is preheated, place the baking sheet in the oven and set the timer for 1 1/2 hours. For the first about hour and a half the ribs are going to be in the oven uncovered, this timer is only to remind you to come and check on them.
As the ribs cook, it will develop that crispy crust like texture on the top where you’ve rubbed the spices in. Depending on your oven, that may be developing after 1-1 1/2 hours or it might take a little longer. Keep checking on it and note when you start to see that happening.
Let the ribs cook uncovered until you start to see the top browning. The sugar used in the rub will really start to caramelize and turn dark brown/black. That’s okay, the ribs aren’t burnt but you are developing a nice flavor profile.
When the top of the ribs are browned to your preference, cover the ribs with a layer of aluminum foil. You don’t have to cover them tightly, just lay the foil on so the top of the ribs do not brown any further.
Make Sure Not To Pull Them Out Too Early
They are done when you can take a fork and start pulling the meat right off the bones. It took mine about 2 hour total in the oven to start to fall apart, so use that as a guideline. Everyone’s ovens are different. Go by what the meat tells you and not necessarily the amount of time that has past.
Take the rib rack out of the oven when they’re done and set them aside for a few minutes to rest. It’s always a good idea to rest meat before you cut it or dive in. The resting time allows the juices to be pulled back into the meat. It’ll be juicier and more tender.
Serve with your favorite sides! My favorite are baked beans (I make these and can them myself) and coleslaw. Today I didn’t have any coleslaw so I served it with some homemade sauerkraut instead.
- 1 rack of spare ribs
- 2 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 Tbs salt
- 1 Tbs pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp oregano
- 2/4 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp coriander
- Preheat oven to 350℉, 176℃
- Line a baking sheet that has sides with aluminum foil for easy clean up
- Take the rack of ribs and use a knife to remove the film along the bottom of the ribs and set, meat side up, on baking sheet
- Mix together spices
- Rubs spices onto the meat side of the ribs, use as much or as little as you prefer
- Place ribs in the oven
- Check after 1-1/2 hours to see if the ribs are browning
- Once browned, cover ribs loosely with aluminum foil
- Ribs are done when meat pulls apart easily from the bone