There’s nothing quite like the taste of juicy, tender pork spare ribs. While grilling is often the go-to method for cooking ribs, sometimes the weather or lack of outdoor space can make that option less than ideal.
But fear not, because cooking pork spare ribs in the oven is a delicious and easy alternative. Whether you prefer slow-cooking or a quicker method, there are plenty of ways to achieve fall-off-the-bone perfection.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best techniques for cooking pork spare ribs in the oven, so you can enjoy this classic dish any time of year.
How Do You Cook Pork Spare Ribs In The Oven?
There are a few different methods for cooking pork spare ribs in the oven, but they all start with preheating your oven to around 275-300°F.
One popular method is to season the ribs with a dry rub mixture and then wrap them tightly in foil before baking for several hours. This slow-cooking method allows the meat to become incredibly tender and flavorful. After a few hours, you can unwrap the foil and brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce before broiling them for a few minutes to get that perfect char.
Another option is to skip the foil and simply bake the ribs on a lined baking sheet. This method can be quicker, taking only a couple of hours, but still results in deliciously tender meat. You can also choose to broil the ribs at the end for a crispy finish.
No matter which method you choose, it’s important to remove the thin membrane from the back of the ribs before seasoning and cooking. This will help the meat cook more evenly and allow the flavors to penetrate more deeply.
Choosing The Right Ribs
When it comes to choosing the right ribs for oven cooking, pork spare ribs are a popular choice. These ribs come from the belly area of the pig and are larger and meatier than baby back ribs.
When selecting pork spare ribs, look for racks that have a good amount of meat on them with minimal fat. You want to avoid ribs that are too fatty or have a lot of gristle, as this can make them tough and difficult to cook evenly.
It’s also important to consider the size of the rack when selecting your ribs. A full rack of spare ribs can be quite large, so you may need to cut it in half to fit it in your baking dish or on your baking sheet.
Finally, consider whether you want to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs yourself or purchase pre-trimmed ribs. Removing the membrane can be a bit tricky, so if you’re not confident in your skills, look for pre-trimmed ribs that have already had the membrane removed.
Preparing The Ribs For Cooking
Before you start cooking your pork spare ribs in the oven, it’s important to prepare them properly. The first step is to remove the thin membrane from the back of the ribs. This membrane can be tough and chewy, and removing it will allow your seasoning and sauce to better penetrate the meat.
To remove the membrane, use a sharp knife to loosen one corner of the membrane from the bone. Then, use a paper towel to grip the corner and pull the membrane off in one piece. If you’re having trouble getting a good grip on the membrane, you can also use a pair of pliers or a butter knife to help loosen it.
Once you’ve removed the membrane, it’s time to season your ribs. You can use a dry rub mixture or your favorite BBQ sauce to add flavor to the meat. Make sure to coat both sides of the ribs evenly with your seasoning or sauce.
At this point, you can choose whether or not to wrap your ribs in foil before baking. Wrapping them in foil will help keep them moist and tender, but it’s not necessary if you prefer a slightly crispy texture.
Finally, place your seasoned ribs on a lined baking sheet and place them in a preheated oven at around 275-300°F. Bake for several hours until the meat is tender and falls off the bone. If you wrapped your ribs in foil, you can unwrap them for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking and brush with additional sauce before broiling to get that perfect char.
By properly preparing your pork spare ribs before cooking, you’ll ensure that they come out tender, flavorful, and delicious every time.
Slow-Cooking Method: Low And Slow
One of the most popular methods for cooking pork spare ribs in the oven is the low and slow technique. This method involves cooking the ribs at a low temperature for several hours, allowing the meat to become incredibly tender and flavorful.
To start, preheat your oven to 250-275°F. While the oven is heating up, prepare your ribs by removing the thin membrane from the back and seasoning them with your preferred rub or marinade. You can use a store-bought seasoning or make your own using a combination of spices, brown sugar, and other ingredients.
Once the ribs are seasoned, place them on a lined baking sheet and cover tightly with aluminum foil. This will help to trap in moisture and prevent the ribs from drying out during the long cooking process.
Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 4 hours for St. Louis-style spareribs or 3.5-4.5 hours for baby back ribs. After this initial cooking time, remove the foil and brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce. Return them to the oven uncovered for an additional 20-30 minutes to allow the sauce to caramelize and create a deliciously sticky crust.
Once the ribs are done, remove them from the oven and let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and make it even more tender.
Quicker Method: High Heat
If you’re short on time but still want to enjoy delicious pork spare ribs, there is a quicker method that involves cooking them at a higher temperature. Preheat your oven to 400°F and season your ribs with your favorite dry rub or marinade. Place the ribs on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes per pound of meat.
To ensure that the meat stays moist, you can wrap the ribs in foil during the first half of the cooking time. Then, remove the foil and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes to get a crispy exterior.
While this method may not result in fall-off-the-bone tender meat like the slow-cooking method, it still produces flavorful and juicy ribs in a fraction of the time. Just be sure to keep an eye on the internal temperature to prevent overcooking and toughening up the meat.
Once your ribs are cooked, you can brush them with your favorite BBQ sauce and broil them for a few minutes to get that charred finish. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!
Adding Flavor With Marinades And Rubs
One of the keys to making delicious pork spare ribs in the oven is to use flavorful marinades and rubs. Marinades are liquid-based mixtures that can help tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. Rubs, on the other hand, are dry mixtures that are rubbed onto the meat to create a flavorful crust.
For a simple marinade, you can mix together lemon juice and your choice of herbs and spices. Simply coat the ribs in the mixture and let them marinate in the fridge for a few hours before cooking. You can also use a pre-made marinade or experiment with your own flavor combinations.
When it comes to rubs, there are countless options to choose from. A basic dry rub might include a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. You can also add in other spices like cumin, chili powder, or mustard powder for extra flavor.
To apply a rub, simply coat the ribs on both sides and gently pat it into the meat. Be sure to remove any excess fat or silver skin before applying the rub so that it can fully penetrate the meat.
Whether you choose to use a marinade, a rub, or both, be sure to let the flavors soak in for at least an hour before cooking. This will give the meat plenty of time to absorb all those delicious flavors and make your pork spare ribs truly irresistible.
Finishing Touches: Glazing And Broiling
Once your pork spare ribs are cooked to perfection, it’s time to add the finishing touches. Glazing and broiling your ribs can take them from great to outstanding.
To glaze your pork spare ribs, simply brush your favorite BBQ sauce over the top of the ribs. Be sure to use a generous amount of sauce to ensure that every bite is coated in delicious flavor. You can also experiment with different types of sauces, such as sweet and tangy or spicy and smoky, to find the perfect flavor profile for your taste buds.
Once your ribs are glazed, it’s time to broil them for a few minutes to get that perfect char. Preheat your broiler and place your ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce starts to caramelize and the edges of the meat become crispy.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your ribs while broiling as they can quickly go from perfectly charred to burnt. Use tongs to carefully flip the ribs over during the broiling process and remove them from the oven as soon as they are done.
With these simple finishing touches, you can take your oven-baked pork spare ribs from good to great. Experiment with different glazes and sauces to find the perfect flavor combination for your taste buds.