Baby Back Ribs: this baby back ribs recipe comes with smoker and oven instructions so you can cook these no matter what you have. They are tender, juicy, deliciously flavored, and so easy to make. Perfect for summer entertaining, and outdoor eating!
These smoked baby back ribs are the ultimate summer recipe. They are meaty, tender, juicy, and slathered in BBQ sauce, which just makes them oh so good. Don’t let the long cook time intimidate you, these are worth every single second of effort. Everyone will rave about these perfect ribs.
Baby Back Ribs
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There is just something about a great big platter of ribs, corn on the cob, watermelon, potato salad, and all the other summer fixings that just makes me happy! I love having all my neighbors over for BBQ. I am obsessed with Traeger smoker, and cook on it all the time. But with all that recipe testing, I need someone to help eat the food. And my neighbors don’t seem to mind. No one has complained yet anyway.
Well these ribs were particularly special, and a recipe I made over and over until I felt I got it right. And trust me, they are exactly what you want from baby back ribs. Tender, juicy, meaty, almost fall apart, but still on the bone. And so much flavor!
How to Make Baby Back Ribs
There are a lot of baby back rib recipes out there, and some debate as to whether or not you should cook your ribs in the oven or on a grill or smoker/pellet grill. My preference is a pellet smoker. But no matter how you do it, they are going to turn out great if you follow these 3 basic steps to making the ultimate baby back ribs:
- Rubbing them down and smoking them. (Or flavoring them in the oven)
- Glazing them, and roasting/grilling them.
- Slathering them with BBQ sauce and finishing them.
When done in this order, and with the right combination of seasonings, you get magically delicious rib meat that you won’t be able to get enough of.
Brush with Mustard
For these baby back ribs, I start by brushing them down with a mustard rub. You could use yellow mustard, but I prefer a combination of dijon and spicy brown. If you do not like any heat, stick with the yellow mustard.
Season with Spice Rub
Once my mustard is in place, I whip up a spice rub made up of all my favorite flavors. Of course you could just use a pre-made rub. I like this mixture enough that I will sometimes make a big batch ahead of time so I can rub it on all the things during grilling season.
On to the Smoker
Then I place my ribs on my Traeger smoker, and smoke them for 2-3 hours. I use a hickory pellet. But I have found that a pellet blend is also really nice when smoking baby back ribs.
Add Butter + Glaze
After smoking them for about 3 hours, I dot the top of my baby back ribs (also works with spare ribs), with butter, and then pour a honey and apple juice glaze over the top. The glaze is optional, but it makes them oh so delicious. No matter what, at this point, you want to have some liquid to put in with your ribs, this is how you are going to help them be nice, tender, juicy, and not dried out. The butter helps!
Wrap in Foil and Cook
Now you wrap them in foil, seal it tight so none of that liquid spills out, and return them to the grill. You will turn your grill up a little, and let them cook for 1 1/2-2 hours. Longer if you are using spare ribs instead of baby back!
Add BBQ Sauce
I love using the Traeger sauces, they have a sweet heat one that is really delicious if you like sweet with a little kick. But of course, use whatever your favorite BBQ sauce is. So the last step is essentially to add your BBQ sauce and return your ribs to the grill without the foil to let them finish, and to get that beautiful sticky shiny BBQ sauce, that makes it finger stickin’ and finger lickin’ good!
These ribs have ruined me for restaurant ribs because nothing beats the flavor of these super tender ribs. And they are so easy to make too!
Baby back ribs in oven
While I prefer to prepared baby back ribs in the smoker, it is possible to make them in the oven and still get great flavor. I have included the instructions in the recipe card, but it is the same idea. You establish flavor early, slow roast, then sauce. And the results are easy to make, tender ribs that everyone loves!
How long to cook ribs in oven at 350
It depends on the rib type, if you are using spare ribs you would cook them for 2-21/2 hours, if you are using baby back ribs, you would cook them 1 1/2-2 hours.
Baby Back Rib Recipe Tips:
- Rinse your ribs: Sometimes they are packed in a salt solution, so give them a good rinse before prepping.
- Rub with mustard rub and seasoning rub up to 24 hours in advance, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for even deeper flavor.
- Using apple juice makes the ribs more moist and tender, you could even place a small up of it on your grill during the smoking phase to create a flavored steam.
- It takes a while to cook, but you only have to actively tend to your meat twice during the smoke, so make at least two racks to make it worth your time and effort.
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