Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs

This is the result of another on of those “AHA!” moments I talk about. I was at a B & B on an island in Lake Erie for a weekend with some friends. As we were preparing to leave, the aroma emanating from the Inkeepers Quarters was hard to ignore. We asked what it was and they said it was ribs they were going to have for dinner. Now, many of us have had those tough just off the grill ribs. But, the revelation here was that they steamed them to almost fork-tender first, then finished them on the grill. I do it a little differently but the process practically guarantees no more tough ribs without baby sitting a wood-fired smoker. And this time, no smoker bag. FYI, if the ribs sit in a little liquid while you slow cook them, its called parboiling. If you sit them on top of a rack over the liquid. Amaze your friends with your culinary vocabulary!

Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs


  • 3 slabs baby back ribs
  • BBQ seasoning, your choice, I use Barnyard Seasoning from a local market
  • Chopped onion (these are dehydrated - instructions say to rehydrate before using - I don't), 2 or 3 handfuls
  • BBQ sauce (home made or store bought – my current favorite is Carolina Sauce with a mustard/vinegar base)
  • Chicken broth, white wine, combination of both


Place the onions in the bottom of a large deep-sided pan. To accommodate 3 or 4 slabs, it should be a large roaster.
Season your ribs well on both sides and rub the seasoning into the meat.
Place the ribs in the pan. In this case, the slabs are cut in half. They are a little easier to handle as they will become very tender later in the process. This is a double-decker batch.
Add enough liquid to almost cover the bottom layer of ribs. If you read the introduction, you will know this is a parboiled batch. Use foil to cover the pan. Crimp it tightly around the edges to seal in the steam. As advertised, this is a big pan and sits across two burners on the stove, front to back.
Simmer the ribs for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Carefully unseal the pan and rotate the ribs. I like to move the top ribs to the bottom and flip them over in the process. Add additional seasoning as you go. Simmer for another 1 to 2 hours, until fork tender. And now, you have a decision to make. You can refrigerate the ribs over night or you can slow cook them all night. If you refrigerate them, make sure you add some of the cooking liquid in with the ribs to keep them moist. In either case, read on.
To prepare the ribs for the oven, line a large pan with enough foil to fold over on itself and form, in essence a large envelope. Place the ribs on the foil and brush both sides of foil with BBQ sauce. You don't need to slather a lot. You'll have the opportunity to add more later.
Seal up the envelope (bring the ends together and seal the ends all around). If you are cooking them over night, place the rib package in a 190 degree oven. The problem with this method is that when you wake in the middle of the night, the house smells like ribs and you want to go to the kitchen and eat. They'll also be ready for breakfast which isn't all bad. If you refrigerate them over night, place your package in a 200-225 degree oven and cook for about 4 hours. Half way through the process you can check the ribs and add more sauce if you like.
Remove the ribs from the oven, unwrap your amazingly tender ribs and prepare to enjoy. Your ribs may look different if you use a tomato-based sauce. This is a Carolina sauce that is made with mustard and vinegar. In either case they will be deeelicious!

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