How To Cook Ribs In The Oven If You Don't Have A Grill

Enjoying the messy, delicious goodness of ribs is a summer staple, but not everyone has a grill or smoker at their disposal. The good news is you can create mouthwatering ribs with just an oven, a handful of ingredients, and a little patience. In fact, with the proper technique, they can hold their own against meat that's smoked on the grill (just don't mention this to BBQ purists.)

Before you get to cooking, you need to make a dry rib rub. Whether you're cooking indoors or outdoors, seasoning ribs with a tasty blend of spices is crucial to developing their flavor. You can use many flavorings here, but it's vital to maintain a sweet and savory balance. Brown sugar is a must, as it is less sweet and provides more flavor than white sugar. It will caramelize as the ribs cook, eventually forming a delicious crust. You also need enough salt in your rub to season the meat and draw its flavors out.

Ribs cooked inside don't get access to smoke, so you need to compensate anywhere you can. Smoked paprika is your friend in this scenario, as it brings in smoky flavors. Mustard powder, garlic powder, and cayenne are all classic additions, bringing in piquant, sharp, and spicy flavors to balance everything out.

Bake your ribs low and slow for the best results

Now that your ribs are seasoned, it's time to cook them. Set your oven anywhere from 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit to do this. Just keep in mind that some ovens can be unpredictable under 300 degrees; if you think this is the case with your oven, don't go below that temperature. You can test your oven's performance by setting it to 350 and inserting an oven thermometer. If the thermometer matches the oven's temperature, you know it's reaching accurate temperatures.

Ribs are rich in collagen and connective tissue, making them tougher than other cuts of meat like pork loin. By cooking them at a low temperature for an extended period, you let that connective tissue and collagen break down and render. It's best to leave the ribs uncovered during cooking so that your rub can brown and crisp up; if you wrap them in foil or cover them, your ribs can come out with an unappealing steamed texture. Let them roast for several hours undisturbed in the oven, checking periodically to make sure they aren't cooking too quickly and burning.

Finishing your oven ribs and brushing them with sauce

After slow-roasting ribs for several hours, they should be soft and pliant. Take them out of the oven before they become so tender that they fall off the bone. Instead, you're looking for a fork-tender texture with enough structural integrity to stay on the bone. You can test their doneness by inserting a toothpick into the meat. If it goes in with little force, your ribs are done.

At this point, you can glaze the meat with BBQ sauce. Whether you're aiming for a South Carolina barbecue or using a Kansas City sauce, this is a great place to get some more smoke into your oven ribs. You can do this by adding liquid smoke to the sauce. Just make sure you use a brand with only natural smoke flavor and water listed under its ingredients. Inferior brands will have additives like caramel coloring that can affect the overall taste. Be careful when adding the liquid, as it can overpower the sauce quickly. Start with ½ teaspoon, and adjust from there if you think it needs more After this, brush the sauce onto the ribs and let them cook at a higher temperature until the sauce has thickened into a sticky lacquer. All that's left to do now is carve them up and enjoy.