The secret to tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone ribs is to cook them low and slow. You don’t need a grill or a smoker to make amazing ribs, these St. Louis Style Spare Ribs are made with the best dry rub and are so tender and juicy from baking low and slow.
These spare ribs need to be included in your dinner rotation immediately! All it takes is 15 minutes of prep work, then just sit back and relax as your dinner cooks itself. You will know it’s time to eat when your stomach starts growling from the amazing smell!
What are St. Louis Style Spare Ribs:
St. Louis style spare ribs are spare ribs that have been trimmed down to a rectangle shape. Spare ribs come from the belly side of the ribs cage, making them bigger and meatier than back ribs. They are also usually less expensive which is why I generally prefer spare ribs over back ribs. Spare rib meat is very tough, which is why cooking low and slow is the best way to get it tender.
Perfect fall-off-the-bone ribs should be tender enough that the meat easily comes off of the bone, but not so tender that they completely fall apart when you pick them up.
Why Cook Ribs Low and Slow:
Growing up I was never a huge fan of ribs. Our family would get a big rack of ribs, throw it on the grill, then in about 30 minutes dinner was ready. The ribs tasted OK, smothered in barbecue sauce, of course, but the meat was SO tough and chewy.
Tough cuts of meat, like ribs, are filled with lots of connective tissue known as collagen. When cooked correctly, the collagen melts down and turns silky and buttery. This has to be done at a low temperature over several hours. If the meat is cooked too quickly and over high-heat, the connective tissue will seize up, and the meat will be dense and chewy.
The reason ribs and other tough meats need to be cooked slowly is all about internal temperature. Collagen starts to break down at around 160° and is fully broken down at 180-190°. The slower the collagen breaks down, the more tender and juicy the ribs will be.
How to Cook Ribs:
Start by removing the skirt, which is the flap of meat attached to the boney side of the ribs. You can cook it with the ribs (cooks in about half the time) or save it to cook separately, it’s very tender and makes great stir fry meat!
Next, remove the membrane. Slide a knife under the pink film attached to the bones and use your hands to pull it off. You can also ask the butcher to remove the membrane for you.
Rinse the ribs and dry well with paper towels and then rub all over on both sides with the dry rub. Place the ribs with the meaty side up onto a baking pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and preheat your oven to 275°.
Bake the ribs for 1 and ½ hours. Remove from the oven, drain the juices in the pan (optional), and brush both sides generously with your favorite homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce. Place back in the oven (covered) and continue baking for another hour. They’ll be very tender and easily coming off of the bone.
Take the ribs out of the oven, they’ll be very tender and easily come off of the bones. Brush both sides with more barbecue sauce, and broil on high for 2-3 minutes on each side until the sauce is bubbly and caramelized. You can also grill the ribs over high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Use a sharp knife to slice the ribs right at the bone and serve with your favorite barbecue side dish!
Great Barbecue Side Dish Recipes:
St. Louis Style Spare Ribs
- 1 (4 lb. ) rack St. Louis style spare ribs
- homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 and ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 and ½ tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. liquid smoke
- Remove the skirt from the boney side of the ribs. You can cook it with the ribs or cook it separately.
- Slide a knife under the membrane that's attached to the bones and then pull it off with your hands. Rinse the ribs and pat dry well with paper towels.
- Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and generously rub it onto both sides of the ribs. Use your fingers to really massage it into the meat.
- Preheat your oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the ribs on the pan with the meaty side up. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 1 and ½ hours. Take the ribs out of the oven, drain the pan juices, and brush both sides with barbecue sauce. Add them back to the oven (covered) and continue baking for 1 more hour.
- Take the ribs out of the oven, brush with more barbecue sauce, and broil on high for 2-3 minutes per side.