These succulent, oven-barbecued baby back ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender. Seasoned with our essential BBQ dry rub and slathered with our favorite low carb barbecue sauce, they bring all the tangy-sweet-spicy flavors that we love.
Deb and I grew up in a family of modest means. As a result, we didn’t go out to eat much. However, when it was our birthday, our mom would usually take us out to lunch at the restaurant of our choice to celebrate. Often, my selection involved barbecue. The barbecue restaurant we went to even had finger bowls, which we kids thought was hilarious.
These oven-barbecued baby back ribs take about 3 hours from start to finish. Luckily, most of that time they’re cooking away on their own in the oven, so it’s not demanding. Once the ribs are finished braising, they can be sauced and finished in the oven or on the grill. In the Pacific Northwest, where Deb and I live, grilling season can be short. While I love the flavor that the grill brings, it’s not unusal for me to be finishing the ribs in the oven. Either way, they’re finger-lickin’ good! Yes, I went there.
This recipe is written for one rack, which is about 3 1/2 pounds. Even though there are just two of us in my home these days, I usually triple the recipe and cook three racks. They freeze so well, and it’s simply a better use of my time. Each rack is tightly wrapped in heavy-duty foil so it braises in it’s own juices. I can fit three racks in a foil-lined half sheet pan, and it makes for easy clean-up.
Before seasoning the ribs with our BBQ Dry Rub, you’ll want to remove the tough silverskin membrane on the back of the rack if it hasn’t already been done so by the butcher. I describe the process in the recipe instructions, but here’s a good video for reference.
There’s an important step between braising the ribs and finishing them off with the sauce. Because the ribs have cooked in a moist environent in the foil, the exterior (including the rub) is a bit damp. For crispier results, insert a wire rack onto the sheet pan and transfer the unwrapped ribs to it, top-side up. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn over and bake another 10 minutes. If you don’t have a wire rack, you could do this step directly on the foil.
At this point, the ribs are ready to be finished. Or, if making ahead, they can be cooled down, wrapped and refrigerated or frozen. If freezing the ribs, remember to chill first in the refrigerator to prevent the formation of ice crystals.
To finish the ribs, brush some of Our Favorite Low Carb Barbecue Sauce on top of the ribs and bake for 10 minutes. Brush on another layer of sauce and bake for 10 minutes more. After a 10-minute rest, the ribs are ready to serve. I usually slice the ribs between the bones for serving and offer extra sauce on the side. If you don’t have time to make the barbecue sauce from scratch, there are a couple of good low carb sauces made with xylitol from Nature’s Hollow. They’re available online, although I’ve also found them at a few natural grocery stores.
If you want to finish the ribs on the grill, I’d follow the same process (minus the sheet pan) over low or indirect heat, with the lid closed.
These oven-barbecued baby back ribs are perfect served with cruncy low carb coleslaw or a bright green salad. I’m a big fan of non-sweet coleslaw, so you’ll be seeing some recipes from me in the weeks to come. In the meantime, enjoy these finger-lickin’ good ribs!
- If the silverskin membrane from backs of the rack of ribs has not been removed, you'll want to do so (video). Slide a table knife under the silverskin anywhere along the rack. If it resists in one spot, try another. Lift and loosen it with the knife until you can grab it with a paper towel. Pull it off the ribs; it should peel away in one large sheet, but if it breaks, use the knife to restart at another section. Pat dry both sides of the racks with paper towels.
- Tear off a piece of heavy duty foil large enough to thoroughly seal the rack of ribs (see photo for tips). Place rack top side down on the foil. Sprinkle back side with 2 tbsp of rub, spreading evenly and pressing down. Flip rack and do the same on top with 3 tbsp rub. Wrap foil around rack and double-crimp to seal tightly. Transfer to a foil-lined half sheet pan and bake in 325F oven for 2 hours.
- Remove the pan from the oven and increase oven temperature to 425. Carefully remove the foil packet from the sheet pan. It may have leaked some of the juices; if so, discard the liquid before inserting a wire rack onto foil-lined sheet pan. Spray the rack with oil (I use coconut oil) for easier clean-up later.
- Open foil packet carefully, being mindful of steam and hot juices, and transfer ribs with heavy-duty tongs to the wire rack, top side up. Return pan to oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and flip rack with tongs and roast another 10 minutes. This is to help remove some of the moisture left from steaming and to promote browning.
- Flip rack to top side up again, and brush half of the BBQ sauce onto the top. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and brush top side again with remaining sauce. Return to oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil for at least 10 minutes before serving. I like to slice the rack into individual ribs before serving with extra BBQ sauce on the side.
- To prepare ahead, stop before adding BBQ Sauce. Cool ribs and then place in refrigerator to chill completely before wrapping well with plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate for up to 48 hours, or freeze (wrap with extra layer of foil) for up to 3 months.
- To reheat rack of ribs, preheat oven to 425F. Place thawed ribs (24 hrs in refrigerator from freezer) top-side up on a foil-lined sheet pan. Reheat for 15 minutes before adding the BBQ sauce as in Step 5. You could also reheat and sauce the rack of ribs on the grill over low or indirect heat.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.
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