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BBQ Pork Ribs are a slow cooked, delicious, tender slab of baby back or spare ribs that are the embodiment of Summer. Make this recipe to make on a smoker or in the oven.

Only five simple ingredients and a lot of time will create the most mouthwatering ribs you’ve ever tasted!

baby back ribs on grill with BBQ sauce
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Why this recipe works:

Perfectly cooked ribs are one of my favorite pork dinner recipes and this is the absolute best way to cook them!

  • Only five ingredients needed: rack of pork ribs (either baby back or spare ribs), yellow mustard, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and BBQ sauce.
  • Although I highly recommend using a smoker grill to cook these ribs, they can also be made in the oven.
  • Ribs need to be cooked low and slow with a fair amount of liquid or steam to braise the meat. Although this recipe takes a lot of time to cook and even more time to marinate the ribs, the result is the most tender, flavorful, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs you’ll ever eat!

Here’s how you make them:

  1. Rub both sides of the spare ribs with mustard and brown sugar. Afterwards you will wrap the ribs and store them in the refrigerator for at least six hours, though you can skip this step if you need to make them right away. 
  2. Set the unwrapped ribs on the grill and smoke for three hours.
  3. Transfer the ribs to a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and top with apple cider vinegar. Wrap with foil and return to grill. Cook at 225 F for two hours.
  4. Remove the tender cooked pork ribs from the foil and place directly on the grill. Smother with your favorite Homemade BBQ sauce or even a Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce and cook for one additional hour until the sauce gets nice and sticky.
step by step photos of how to make pork ribs on the grill

Cooking tips:

  • Plan ahead! This recipe takes time to marinate and then cook.
  • You will prepare the pork spare ribs by removing the membrane that may be attached to the underside of the rib cage. This may have already been done for you by the butcher, but if not, then you will have to do it yourself.
  • You can use apple juice or apple cider in place of the apple cider vinegar, however the vinegar will give you more tender results.
  • I recommend using apple or hickory wood pellets in the smoker for these ribs.
  • This recipe works equally well for both pork spare ribs and pork baby back ribs.
slab of sauce covered ribs on a grill

How do you cook pork ribs in the oven?

Like with the smoker ribs, you will want to wrap the pork spare ribs so that you can cover them with apple cider before sealing them up.

You will need to bake the BBQ pork ribs in the oven for three hours total.

Afterwards, you will cover the pork spare ribs with BBQ sauce before broiling them. You will know your BBQ pork spare ribs are done when the sauce is slightly browned and firm.

hand lifting a smoked spare rib

What to serve with BBQ Ribs:

You can’t enjoy amazing pork ribs without an abundance of summer side dishes to serve alongside them! Here are some of my favorites to serve during a backyard summer barbecue:

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BBQ Pork Ribs Recipe

Prep15 minutes
Cook6 hours
Total6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
BBQ Pork Ribs are a slow cooked tender slab of seasoned and sauced barbecued baby back or spare ribs that are easy to make on a smoker or in the oven.

Video

Ingredients 

(all ingredients are approximate and don’t really need to be measured)

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Instructions 

  • Prepare ribs by removing membrane which is usually attached to the underside of the rib cage. Sometimes the butcher does this before you buy them. Rub both sides of ribs with mustard and brown sugar. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator 6 hours to overnight. If you’re in a real hurry, you can skip the refrigeration and just start the cooking process.

If cooking on a smoker:

  • Set smoker to smoke with the lid open for 5 minutes. Unwrap ribs and place on grill. Close lid. Smoke ribs for 3 hours.
  • Open lid. Increase temperature from smoke to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil (the thin stuff will tear) twice the length of the ribs and transfer the ribs to the foil using tongs. Wrap the foil up around the ribs to make a bowl. Pour the apple cider vinegar over the ribs. Wrap the ribs in the foil taking care not to let the vinegar spill out. Cook for 2 hours.
  • Remove ribs from foil and place back on the grill. With the heat still still set at 225, cover the ribs with the barbecue sauce and cook for one additional hour.
  • The ends of the bones should be exposed and the meat should be extremely tender. Take great care lifting them off the grill so as not to have them fall apart.

If cooking ribs in the oven:

  • Remove plastic wrap and transfer to a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil (twice the length of the ribs) in such a way that the package can hold liquid. Before sealing up, pour vinegar over ribs. Wrap tightly and bake in preheated 250 degree F oven for 3 hours.
  • Remove the ribs from the oven and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Cover with barbecue sauce.
  • Set the oven to broil and place ribs back in oven until sauce is slightly browned and firm but not burned.

Notes

Cooking tips:
  • Plan ahead! This recipe takes time to marinate and then cook.
  • You will prepare the pork spare ribs by removing the membrane that may be attached to the underside of the rib cage. This may have already been done for you by the butcher, but if not, then you will have to do it yourself.
  • You can use apple juice or apple cider in place of the apple cider vinegar, however the vinegar will give you more tender results.
  • I recommend using apple or hickory wood pellets in the smoker for these ribs.
  • This recipe works equally well for both pork spare ribs and pork baby back ribs.

Nutrition

Calories: 441kcal, Carbohydrates: 86g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 1475mg, Potassium: 416mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 77g, Vitamin A: 205IU, Vitamin C: 1.4mg, Calcium: 113mg, Iron: 2.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

This recipe was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated with helpful information, ingredient and process photos, as well as recipe tips. Don’t worry – the recipe hasn’t changed!

Hi! I’m Krissy.

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24 Comments

  1. Hi
    I want to cook these ribs for Fathers Day this Sunday.(2022)
    It sounds like I will use the oven, smoker then our Weber bbq.
    Our smoker is tall with several
    racks. We have wood chips or pellets. Is this the type smoker you mean? Last question:
    I’ve usually found putting the bbq sauce on then cooking causes burning because of sugar.
    How do you get around that?
    Thank you, I’m excited to try it plus your other recipes❣️❣️

    1. yes – my smoker uses compressed wood pellets. I find that the sauce never burns because the temperature is low.

  2. barbecue is possibly the the most iconic American food and has regional tastes as varied as the nation itself including the smoking briskets of Central Texas and the sticky ribs of Memphis to Kansas City’s charred ends and the vinegar-and-mustard-sauced pork of the Carolinas. The iconic food is much more than you think.

    1. You really need a way to trap in the moisture for this step. It’s what makes them so tender. You can place them in a large pan with a fitted lid if you have one.