Oven-Roasted Baby Back Ribs

Finger-lickin' good.
It is official: my mother is a kitchen saboteur.

For Valentine’s Day this year, I decided to toss some ribs in the oven and save my boyfriend and myself from a night out. I was thinking something fun to eat. Finger food. Something fast and easy.

I thought of my mom’s fantastic oven-roasted baby back ribs.

When I asked her for the recipe, she casually tossed out something more like a manner than a method with what I realize now to be a completely non-realistic cooking time.

“35 minutes? For real?”

I hooted with joy. Thirty five minutes of roasting meant that I could leave off dinner until the last minute! I could dawdle around the supermarket playing with squeeze bottles of agave syrup and Dijonnaise without feeling the pressure to get going and get home!

So I went about my day, happy and relaxed. Then my mother called somewhere around the dairy section to say that it was actually about 35 minutes . . . after the first hour.

First hour? What first hour! Am I hard of hearing? Does my cellular service suck?

No, I can hear fine. The service is not terrific, but the call was crystal.

My mother had lied. Again!

And again, it turns out, as she had to call back a second time to say that it was actually more like 35 minutes to an hour after the first hour.

Well, mine ended up taking about one hour and 40 minutes. I imagine that that can be a little less or more depending on thick your racks of ribs are.

So here is a great, super easy recipe for juicy, falling-off-the-bone ribs done in your oven.

Seriously, no lie.


1 or 2 racks of baby back pork ribs

1/3 of a cup of dark brown sugar per rack of ribs

1 heaping tablespoon of steak seasoning or rib rub (I like one with some smoke) per rack of ribs

Special equipment:

One half-size sheet pan

One wire rack to fit the sheet pan

How to prepare:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°.

2. The secret to melt-in-your mouth tender ribs? You have to remove the membrane on the back of the pork ribs. It’s super easy to do and allows your ribs to cook nice and flat, without curling up. It also makes them much nicer to eat. Flip the ribs bone-side up. Using the flat handle of a spoon or a butter knife, loosen the membrane on one end of the rack of ribs. Grasp the loosened end with a paper towel and pull the membrane slowly in the direction of the opposite end. It will probably come off in one piece but if not, you can just grab the torn end and continue. To help visualize, here is a pretty great Youtube how-to clip from BBQTalk.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and seasoning with your fingers. After you have dried off your rack of ribs with paper towels, rub the brown sugar-seasoning mix into both sides of the rack. Lay the rib(s) out on the wire rack.

4. Set the racks of ribs in the oven. Carefully pour about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of water into the bottom of the sheet pan. The water should not touch the bottom of the wire rack. Roast the ribs in the oven at 375° for one hour. Lower the temperature to 350° and continue to roast until the ribs are tender and buttery, about 40 minutes to an hour longer depending on the thickness of your rack of ribs. Remove carefully from the oven. Let the ribs rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


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