Recipes for Tender Ribs That Fall Off of the Bone

Ribs work well for standard suppers, cookouts, and days when you need a hearty dish that’ll fill you up. We’ve compiled six of the best recipes the web has to offer; some are filled with smoky barbecue flavors, others are unbelievably spicy, and some rely on milder ingredients to sweeten them up. No matter what flavors you’d like your meat to embody, we promise these recipes will make your mouth water.

1. Melt-In-Your-Mouth Barbecue Ribs

barbecue ribs

Barbecue ribs | iStock.com

Food.com’s barbecue ribs are tender, moist, and filled with rich, smoky flavors. The meat is cooked in the oven, making this recipe a great go-to year-round. Despite being cooked in the kitchen, an aromatic dry rub ensures they taste as though you fired up the grill to make them. If you don’t have hickory smoked salt, you can use smoked paprika or liquid smoke instead.

Looking for an easy way to remove the membrane? The developer behind this recipe recommends working a spoon into the bottom center of the membrane. Work it back and forth to form a pocket, then slide your thumbs in and use them to work the membrane off.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds pork ribs
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon hickory smoke salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
  • 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel off tough membrane that covers the bony side of the ribs. Mix together the sugar and spices to make the rub. Apply rub to all sides of ribs, and then lay the ribs on two layers of foil, with the meaty side down. Lay two layers of foil on top of ribs, rolling and crimping edges tightly, edges facing up to seal. Place on baking sheet and bake for 2 to 2½ hours.

Remove from oven. Heat broiler. Cut ribs into serving sized portions of 2 or 3 ribs. Arrange on broiler pan, bony side up. Brush on sauce. Broil for 1 or 2 minutes until sauce is cooked on and bubbly. Turn ribs over. Repeat on other side. Alternately, you can grill the ribs on your grill.

2. Memphis-Style Ribs

Grilled pork ribs

Ribs | iStock.com

Take a break from sauce-smothered meat, and instead make these Memphis-style ribs, which get their great flavor from a dry rub consisting of paprika, black pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar. Make sure to massage the rub into the ribs the night before you plan to grill them, and then sprinkle a little bit more rub on them at the end of cooking for an unbelievable flavor boost. Steven Raichlen’s recipe, which is in the cookbook The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary Edition and can be found via Epicurious, lets you use your favorite type of ribs for this recipe; baby back, long ends, short ends, and rib tips are all great options, but just make sure you adjust the cooking time based on the meat you use.

Ingredients:

Ribs and Rub

  • 3 racks baby back pork ribs (about 7 pounds), or 2 racks pork spareribs (6 to 8 pounds total)
  • ¼ cup sweet paprika
  • 4½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4½ teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons celery salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin

Mop Sauce

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • ½ cup yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Directions: Prepare the ribs and rub: Remove the thin, papery skin from the back of each rack of ribs by pulling it off in a sheet with your fingers, using the corner of a kitchen towel to gain a secure grip, or with pliers. Combine the paprika, black pepper, brown sugar, salt, celery salt, cayenne, garlic powder, dry mustard, and cumin in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Rub two thirds of this mixture over the ribs on both sides, then transfer the ribs to a roasting pan. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

Prepare the mop sauce: Mix together the cider vinegar, mustard, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and place a large drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high; when smoke appears, reduce the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium.

When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the ribs on the hot grate over the drip pan. Cover the grill and smoke cook the ribs for 1 hour. When the ribs have cooked for an hour, uncover the grill and brush the ribs with the mop sauce. Re-cover the grill and continue cooking the ribs until tender and almost done, ¼ to ½ hour longer for baby back ribs, ½ to 1 hour longer for spareribs.

The ribs are done when the meat is very tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bones. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side after 1 hour. Fifteen minutes before the ribs are done, season them with the remaining rub, sprinkling it on. To serve, cut the racks in half or, for a plate-burying effect, just leave them whole.

3. Spicy Chinese Barbecue Riblets

ribs smothered in barbecue sauce on a plate

Barbecue riblets | iStock.com

Spice up standard ribs with this AllRecipes.com dish, which is infused with sweet and spicy flavors. Hoisin sauce, white wine, soy sauce, sugar, tomato paste, garlic, and hot sauce combine to create an unusual — but delicious — sauce for pork riblets. It serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
  • 2 pounds baby back ribs, cut into 1-inch riblets

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the hoisin sauce, white wine, soy sauce, sugar, tomato paste, garlic, and hot sauce in large bowl; mix well. Place the riblets in a large roasting pan and bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Pour sauce over riblets; toss to coat. Return the pan to the oven; bake, stirring often, until ribs are tender and sauce has thickened, about 45 minutes.

4. Honey-Soy Appetizer Ribs

barbecue spareribs with honey garlic glaze

Ribs with honey glaze | iStock.com

Southern Living’s recipe showcases ribs’ sweeter side. Asian barbecue sauce, sherry, honey, garlic powder, and red pepper create tantalizing meat unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. It serves 8.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slabs pork spareribs (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 cup honey
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sherry (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Garnishes: sesame seeds, thinly sliced green onions
  • Quick Asian barbecue sauce (optional)

Directions: Begin by rinsing and patting ribs dry. To remove thin membrane from back of ribs, slice into it with a knife and then pull it off. Bring ribs and water to cover to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Place ribs in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Stir together honey and next 4 ingredients; pour over ribs.

Light 1 side of grill, heating to 350 degrees to 400 degrees; leave other side unlit. Arrange ribs over unlit side of grill, reserving sauce in dish. Grill, covered with grill lid, 45 minutes. Reposition rib slabs, placing slab closest to heat source away from heat and moving other slab closer to heat. Grill, covered with grill lid, 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender, repositioning ribs and basting with reserved sauce every 20 minutes. Remove ribs from grill, and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

5. Sweet Cola Ribs

barbecue ribs on a white plate

Ribs covered in sauce | iStock.com

After reading about Food Network’s recipe, you’ll want to make this dish immediately. The perfect combination of smoke and indirect heat make these ribs melt-in-your-mouth tender, while a basic can of cola adds a stunning sweetness your tastebuds will love.

The ribs are first seasoned with a dry rub consisting of brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper, and then refrigerated for 4 to 12 hours to allow the rub’s flavors to soak in. It’s then time to grill the ribs, and after you’ve cooked them for a little over an hour, you’ll coat them in the sweet cola barbecue sauce, and cook for another 20 minutes. Guests will be helping themselves to second and third helpings, so make sure you prepare plenty!

Ingredients:

Sweet Cola Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 can cola
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground mustard
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 racks pork spare ribs (about 3 pound each)

Directions: Preheat grill to 250 degrees Fahrenheit using hickory and charcoal. Set up your grill for indirect heat. For the sauce, in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add oil. Once heated, add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

For the dry rub, whisk all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. This can be stored up to 6 months in an airtight container. For the ribs, rinse and dry ribs. Place on a clean cutting board, pull off the membrane and trim the ribs of excess fat. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with rub. Wrap ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours so flavors can permeate.

Place ribs, meatier side down, on the grill away from the coals. Close grill cover. Cook the pork ribs for 1 hour 15 minutes; flipping several times for even cook. Coat ribs with Sweet Cola Barbecue Sauce and cook for another 20 minutes.

6. Jalapeño Ribs

Grilled pork ribs

Spicy ribs | iStock.com

Last, but certainly not least, is Taste of Home’s recipe for jalapeño ribs. Brown sugar gives your meat a lovely sweetness, while jalapeños ensure this dish also has plenty of heat. If you’d like to make them ahead of time, they can be baked and the sauce can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated. The day of, grill and baste them for 15 minutes or until heated through. It serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3½ to 4 pounds pork spareribs

Jalapeno Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients; rub onto both sides of ribs. Place ribs, meat side up, on a rack in a foil-lined roasting pan. Bake for 1½ to 1¾ hours or until tender. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine sauce ingredients; simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until thickened. Grill ribs, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until browned, basting with sauce and turning several times. Reheat remaining sauce and serve with ribs.