How To Make Tender Pork Spare Ribs In The Oven? A Full Guide

Are you craving some delicious, fall-off-the-bone pork spare ribs but don’t have access to a grill?

No worries! You can easily make tender and flavorful pork spare ribs in the oven with just a few simple steps.

Whether you prefer a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce or a spicy dry rub, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll walk you through different methods and recipes to achieve perfectly cooked pork spare ribs every time.

So, grab your apron and let’s get cooking!

How To Make Tender Pork Spare Ribs In The Oven?

There are several ways to make tender pork spare ribs in the oven. Here are three popular methods:

Choosing The Right Cut Of Pork Spare Ribs

Choosing the right cut of pork spare ribs is crucial to achieving tender and flavorful ribs. There are three main types of pork spare ribs: spareribs, St. Louis cut ribs, and rib tips.

Spareribs are possibly the most popular cut of pork ribs and are often the default choice for many recipes and cookouts. They come from further down the ribcage, at the end of baby backs, closer to the belly. They are straighter and flatter than baby backs due to their proximity to the ends of the ribs. Spareribs have significantly fattier meat with more marbling along the top and between the bones. This is why these ribs take longer to cook and are often the better choice for smoking. Spareribs usually take 5 to 6 hours to cook.

St. Louis cut ribs are basically spare ribs, trimmed up a little more. This cut of rib is preferred on the competition circuit, as it is neat and tidy for presentation. The meat is pretty much the same as that you would find on spare ribs, minus the cartilage and gristle you find at the bottom of the spares.

Rib tips are considered by many to be the most tender part of the pig with a lot of fat and marbling. Along with this fat and marbling though is a lot of small bone and cartilage, which can make the rib tips a chore to eat. Rib tips are trimmed from spare ribs when creating the St. Louis cut.

When choosing your cut of pork spare ribs, look for slabs with good meat coverage over the bones and no large areas of surface fat. Avoid slabs where the meat has been cut too close to the bone, as these exposed bones may fall out during cooking. For best quality, avoid buying ribs that are frozen or have been previously frozen if possible. Cryovac packages containing 1-3 slabs of ribs have usually not been frozen, but there are exceptions and they do sometimes turn up frozen in grocery stores. In any event, reject ribs that are discolored or that have dried-out edges, an indication of freezer burn.

Experiment with different sizes and make your own judgment on what size you prefer. Remember that every slab is unique, so even if you line up several slabs of similar size and weight, you may find each one different in terms of tenderness. That’s part of the fun and variability of barbecue!

Preparing The Ribs For Cooking

Before cooking your pork spare ribs in the oven, it’s important to properly prepare them. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Remove the membrane: The membrane on the back of the ribs can be tough and chewy, so it’s best to remove it before cooking. Using a paper towel or a sharp knife, grip the corner of the membrane and pull it off.

2. Trim excess fat: While some fat is necessary for flavor and tenderness, too much can make your ribs greasy. Use a sharp knife to trim any large pieces of fat from the ribs.

3. Season: To add flavor to your ribs, generously season them with your favorite dry rub or marinade. Be sure to cover both sides of the meat evenly.

4. Let them rest: After seasoning your ribs, let them rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This will help bring the meat to room temperature and allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your pork spare ribs are properly prepared and ready for cooking in the oven.

Seasoning Options: Dry Rubs Vs. Sauces

When it comes to seasoning pork spare ribs, there are two main options: dry rubs and sauces. Both options have their own unique advantages and can produce delicious results.

Dry rubs are a blend of spices and seasonings that are rubbed onto the meat before cooking. They can be customized to your personal taste preferences and can add a depth of flavor to the ribs. Dry rubs can also create a crispy crust on the outside of the meat as it cooks. For example, a homemade dry rub made with smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and maple sugar can add a smoky and slightly sweet flavor to your pork spare ribs.

On the other hand, sauces are a liquid mixture that is brushed onto the meat during cooking or added at the end of cooking. Sauces can add moisture to the meat and create a sticky glaze on the outside. They can also add a variety of flavors, ranging from sweet to tangy to spicy. For example, a classic barbecue sauce made with ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and spices can give your pork spare ribs a sweet and tangy flavor.

Ultimately, whether you choose to use a dry rub or sauce on your pork spare ribs is a matter of personal preference. You can even experiment with combining both methods for even more flavor. Just remember to apply the seasoning generously and evenly for the best results.

Oven Cooking Methods: Low And Slow Vs. High Heat

When it comes to cooking pork spare ribs in the oven, there are two main methods: low and slow cooking and high heat cooking. Low and slow cooking involves cooking the ribs at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. This method is ideal for spare ribs because they tend to be tougher than baby back ribs. The magic numbers for low and slow cooking beef spare ribs are 3 1/2 hours at 285°F. For this method, it is recommended to prep the ribs similar to pork baby backs. A rub made with your favorite spices, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, and liquid smoke can be used to flavor the ribs. Once the ribs are prepped, they can be baked for two hours, then coated with barbecue sauce and baked for another hour. This process can be repeated until the internal temperature of the ribs reaches 160-170°F.

The high heat cooking method involves baking the ribs at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This method is best suited for baby back ribs, which tend to be leaner and can dry out if cooked too long. The ideal internal temperature for baby back ribs is 198-200°F. To achieve this, the ribs can be baked at 300°F for 2-3 hours until their internal temperature reaches the desired level of doneness. Once the ribs are cooked, they can be brushed with barbecue sauce and broiled at 475°F for 3-4 minutes to crisp up the top.

Regardless of which method you choose, there are a few tips to keep in mind when cooking pork spare ribs in the oven. First, it’s important to remove excess fat from the ribs before cooking them. Second, using aluminum foil or a foil-lined pan can make cleanup easier. Finally, using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ribs is crucial to ensuring they are cooked properly and are tender and juicy.

Tips For Checking Doneness And Avoiding Overcooking

Cooking pork spare ribs to the right temperature can be challenging, but with these tips, you can ensure that your ribs are tender and juicy every time:

1. Use an instant-read thermometer: To check the internal temperature of your pork spare ribs, use an instant-read thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone. The temperature should read between 198 and 202 degrees F.

2. Check multiple spots: Due to the thin layers of meat and interspersed bones, taking an accurate internal temperature in pork ribs can be difficult. To get a more accurate reading, check multiple spots on your rack of ribs.

3. Avoid overcooking: Overcooking can lead to tough and dry ribs. To avoid this, check on your ribs partway through the bake and then about a half-hour before the end. Make sure not to overcook and toughen up the meat.

4. Use a tightly sealed pan: When baking your pork spare ribs in the oven, use a tightly sealed pan topped with aluminum foil to lock in the heat, steam, and moisture around the ribs. This will keep them extra moist and juicy while they cook.

5. Let them rest: Once your ribs reach the right temperature, pull them out of the oven and let them rest for a few minutes before cutting between the bones to separate the individual ribs. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it even more tender and flavorful.

By following these tips, you can make perfectly tender and juicy pork spare ribs in the oven every time.

Serving Suggestions And Side Dish Ideas

When it comes to serving pork spare ribs, it’s important to have some delicious sides to complement the rich and savory flavors of the meat. Here are some ideas for side dishes that will make your pork spare ribs meal complete:

1. Classic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy and buttery mashed potatoes are a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with pork spare ribs. You can add some garlic or cheese to give them an extra kick.

2. Roasted Vegetables: Roasting vegetables like carrots, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts brings out their natural sweetness and adds a nice crunch to your meal.

3. Cornbread: A Southern classic, cornbread is a sweet and savory side dish that is perfect for soaking up the juices from your pork spare ribs.

4. Coleslaw: This crunchy and refreshing side dish is a great way to balance out the richness of the pork spare ribs. You can make it with a creamy dressing or a vinaigrette.

5. Macaroni and Cheese: Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? This indulgent side dish is perfect for satisfying your comfort food cravings.

6. Sweet Potato Fries: Swap out regular fries for sweet potato fries for a healthier and more flavorful option. You can bake them in the oven or cook them in an air fryer for a crispy texture.

7. Baked Beans: Another classic side dish, baked beans are sweet, tangy, and savory all at once. They pair perfectly with pork spare ribs and add some protein to your meal.

No matter which sides you choose, make sure to have at least two or three to round out your meal. With these delicious options, your pork spare ribs dinner will be a hit!