Baking ribs in the oven before grilling them is a great method for achieving fall-off-the-bone tenderness. The low and slow baking process allows the flavors of the seasoning and rub to penetrate deeply into the meat, resulting in more flavorful tender ribs. Once the ribs have been baked, all you need to do is finish them quickly on the grill and coat them with your favorite sauce.
Falling off the bone tender, the easy way!
There are few things more satisfying than sinking your teeth into a perfectly cooked rack of ribs. Achieving that fall-off-the-bone tenderness, however, can be a challenge. That's where baking comes in. By cooking ribs in the oven before grilling, you can ensure that they are tender and juicy, with meat that practically falls off the bone. This two-step process allows the ribs to cook through without becoming dry or tough, while also infusing them with delicious flavor. Whether you're a seasoned pitmaster or a novice griller, baking your ribs before grilling is a surefire way to elevate your barbecue game and impress your guests.
- Falling off the bone tender, the easy way!
- Why I use the bake-then-grill method for ribs
- Ingredients and Substitutions
- Step-by-Step Instructions
- A video to show you how to remove the back membrane
- What to serve with Easy Make-Ahead Oven-Baked Grilled Ribs?
- Storage and Left-Overs
- What to serve on the side?
- Wine Recommendation
- Easy Make-Ahead Oven-Baked Grilled Ribs
Why I use the bake-then-grill method for ribs
My family, like many, grew up with overcooked ribs. Dad used to put them on the BBQ raw, cook them until they were charcoal, and then slather on some sauce – dinner is served. It was hard to tell what was bone and what was meat.
My friend Dennis made tender ribs, he did this by boiling them for an hour in water first; and while they were more tender, they also lost a lot of their flavor. But they were tender.
Now that I have found the bake-then-grill method, I will never go back to flavorless dry ribs.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- A Rack of Baby Back Ribs - While I think baby back ribs are the best ribs, you could use spare ribs as well. As far as baby back ribs, I prefer the regular, not thick-cut, ribs.
- Spice Rub - Use your favorite or use my favorite Sweet and Spicy BBQ Rub.
- BBQ Sauce - Again, use your favorite store-bought sauce, or try my easy No-Cook BBQ Sauce.
- Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil - If using regular strength aluminum foil be sure to double it to ensure a leakproof package.
After removing the membrane (if present) from the back of the rack of ribs, season both sides generously with the seasoning mix.
After seasoning, place the ribs, meat side down on the foil. and bringing the sides up to the middle close by folding or rolling the foil together, then tightly rolling the ends to make a leakproof package. Place on a cooking sheet.
Remove the ribs from the foil and cut them into serving-sized pieces. They are now ready for the grill. Lindy's TIP: The ribs cut more easily when cold. I find it best to cook them either earlier in the day or better, the day before. Store them in their foil wrap in the refrigerator until ready to cook
Be sure to season both sides of the ribs. It's best to do this on the foil so as you wrap it tightly in the foil the excess seasoning remains on the meat.
Bake at 325ºF (163ºC) for about 2 hours. The meat will be pulling from the bone to show they are cooked and tender. Don't open the package until you are ready to remove them from the oven.
Place the ribs on the grill over direct flame, and cook, turning as needed and brushing with sauce until they are hot and nicely coated with sauce.
And there you have it. Tender, fall-off-the-bone, ribs ready for your culinary pleasure.
A video to show you how to remove the back membrane
- Add smokiness - You can add to the smokiness of the ribs by using smoked paprika, smoked salt, or Chipotle chili in the rub. You can also rub some liquid smoke directly on the meat (but use it sparingly as it is very strong and can take over the meat).
- No Grill? No Problem. After baking, place the cooked ribs under the broiler with sauce and broil them until hot and the sauce is caramelized.
Baked and grilled ribs are typically cooked using dry heat, while slow-smoked ribs are cooked using low heat and smoke for a long period of time. This difference in cooking methods can result in variations in taste, texture, and tenderness of the meat.
You can bake the ribs and refrigerate them, in the foil wrapping, for a few days at least before cutting them and grilling. I find them easier to cut when cold.
The membrane can be chewy or rubbery and prevents seasonings from penetrating the underside of the ribs - so it must be removed for maximum flavor and tenderness.
What to serve with Easy Make-Ahead Oven-Baked Grilled Ribs?
Storage and Left-Overs
Leftover ribs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze them if keeping them longer up to a few months. Reheat, covered, in a low (325ºF 163ºC) oven until hot, about 20 minutes.
Another good use for leftover BBQ ribs is to make the Easy Pork Fried Rice. Yum! My husband's favorite.
What to serve on the side?
Want more? Try these other delicious backyard BBQ recipes...
While many people enjoy a nice cold beer with ribs and backyard BBQ; How about a bold Zinfandel to dance with those saucy baby back ribs? Zinfandel's robust flavors, like dark berries and peppery notes, can stand up to the smoky richness of BBQ ribs.
Not feeling Zin today? Tempranillo can join the BBQ party too. Its fruity and earthy notes can complement the smokiness of the ribs and being a bit leaner than Zin it will also cut through the fat.
This post was originally published in February 2013. It has been updated to include more instructions and updated photos.
Easy Make-Ahead Oven-Baked Grilled Ribs
- 2 racks of baby back ribs
- Spice Rub of your choice or Sweet and Spicy BBQ Rub for Ribs or Chicken
- BBQ Sauce of your choice or Easy No-Cook BBQ Sauce
- Tear two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to tightly wrap a rack of ribs in. Turn the rack over and with your finger, find the “membrane” that covers the back of the ribs; starting at the short side of the ribs loosen the membrane with your finger; once loosened, take a paper towel and get a firm grip on it; then pull across the back towards the large end. The membrane should zip off. If the whole thing does not come off the first time, find where it tore and do it again.
- Place the rack on the center of the foil and season liberally on both sides with the seasoning mix.Take both edges up along the ribs and fold down; roll up the sides. You want a leakproof package. Repeat with the other rack.
- Place the wrapped ribs on a cookie sheet (rimmed baking pan) and place in a 325º F oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly, you can refrigerate overnight if desired.
- When ready to finish, remove the ribs from the foil; cut into 2 – 3 rib pieces, then grill over medium-high heat until heated through, basting with your favorite sauce once the ribs are hot. These are tender, melt in your mouth ribs.