Step by step instructions on How to Make Baby Back Ribs that are tender, fall off the bone good whether on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven. The key things to remember are start with a dry rub, baste with a mop sauce while cooking and glaze with BBQ sauce until sticky and tender.
Print Recipe
4.2 from 46 votes

How to Make Baby Back Ribs

Step by step instructions on How to Make Baby Back Ribs that are tender, fall off the bone good whether on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven. The key things to remember are start with a dry rub, baste with a mop sauce while cooking and glaze with BBQ sauce until sticky and tender. Recipe video included.
Prep Time8 hrs
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time12 hrs 30 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Southern, Southwest, Western
Keyword: baby back ribs, BBQ food, picnic food
Servings: 6
Calories: 820kcal
Author: Kevin Is Cooking

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs baby back pork ribs (2 racks minimum)

Mop Sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (I use Tabasco)

Dry Rub

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground celery salt
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (half for less kick)

Instructions

  • To make the rub: mix the salt, brown sugar, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic powders, dry mustard, celery salt and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and mix with a small whisk or your gloved fingers to break up any lumps.
  • Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of each rack by inserting a knife under it. The best place to start is on one of the middle bones. Using a paper towel, or pliers to secure a grip and peel off and discard the membrane.
  • Wear latex gloves (optional) and sprinkle dry rub over both sides of the ribs, rubbing it onto the meat. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for 2 hours minimum or best overnight.
  • For the mop sauce melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cider, soy sauce and hot sauce. Keep warm until ready to use.

For the Grill:

  • For Low and Slow: Preheat gas grill or smoker to 225°F. Add smoker chips per manufacturer's instructions if using. Set up the grill for indirect grilling (See Note 1).
    Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate, cover the grill and cook the ribs for 30 minutes.
    Brush both sides with mop sauce. Re-cover the grill and continue cooking the ribs for about 4 to 4 1/2 hours brushing with mop sauce every 15 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on thickness of ribs. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 145°F.
    In last 30 minutes brush with your favorite BBQ sauce several times, or not, and grill the ribs until the BBQ sauce is browned and bubbling, a couple minutes per side.
    Remove from the grill and let the ribs rest for 5-10 minutes, then cut the ribs.
  • If short on time: Preheat gas grill or smoker to 325°F. Add smoker chips per manufacturer's instructions if using. 
    Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate, cover the grill and cook the ribs for 45 minutes.
    Lift from grill and place on aluminum foil (enough to wrap). Brush both sides with mop sauce and seal foil. Place back on grill, re-cover the grill and continue cooking the ribs 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours longer until tender. At this point they should be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. Cooking time varies depending on thickness of ribs. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 145°F.
    In last 30 minutes, open foil and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce several times, or not, and grill the ribs until the BBQ sauce is browned and bubbling, a couple minutes per side.
    Remove from the grill and let the ribs rest for 5-10 minutes, then cut the ribs.

For the Smoker:

  • Set up and light the smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat it to low (225°F). 
    Place the ribs in the smoker bone side down and smoke until cooked through, 4 to 5 hours. Brush the ribs with the mop sauce after an hour, then mop the ribs again once every hour until cooked tender. Cooking time varies depending on thickness of ribs. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 145°F.
    In last 30 minutes brush with your favorite BBQ sauce several times, or not, and smoke the ribs until the BBQ sauce is browned and bubbling, a couple minutes per side.
    Remove from the smoker and let the ribs rest for 5-10 minutes, then cut the ribs.

For the Oven:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
    Place the ribs, bone side down, on top of a wire rack set in an aluminum foil lined baking tray. Cook the ribs for 45 minutes.
    Lift from tray and place on aluminum foil (enough to wrap). Brush both sides with mop sauce and seal foil. Place back in oven and continue cooking the ribs 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours until well browned and tender (feel free to mop every 15 minutes).
    Turn and mop again. Continue cooking, bone side down, another 30 minutes. 2 1/2 to 3 hours total cook time. Cooking time varies depending on thickness of ribs. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 145°F.
    In last 30 minutes, open foil and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce several times, or not, and cook the ribs until the BBQ sauce is browned and bubbling, a couple minutes per side.
    Remove from the oven and let the ribs rest for a 5-10 minutes, then cut the ribs.

For the Instant Pot:

  • Place trivet in bottom of pot and add 1 cup of water (or apple/pineapple juice, optional).
    Set ribs upright on the trivet so they are not stacked on top of one another.
    Close lid and vent. Select Manual Pressure and set timer for 24 minutes (25-28 minutes depending if they’re extra meaty). 
    Once done, allow the Instant Pot to go through natural release.
    Remove from Instant Pot and place on wire rack in lined baking tray.
    Brush with marinade or barbecue sauce (or olive oil/seasoning for dry ribs) and broil or grill until slightly sticky and slightly charred.

Notes

  1. Grill using indirect heat: For gas grill do the 2 Zone set up which is either half the grill is lit to achieve desired temperature and the meat is placed on opposite side, or have sides lit leaving the center NOT on or lowest temperature. To grill using indirect heat on a charcoal BBQ or smoker, ignite charcoal and place it to one side of the grill, creating a space for the food or the center with meat you’re cooking not directly over those lit coals. Typically use a drip pan under the meat to avoid any flareups.

Nutrition

Calories: 820kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 74g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 294mg | Sodium: 1292mg | Potassium: 1354mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1465IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 4.4mg