How To Make Ribs

I love ribs! Pork ribs aren’t just flavorful, but they’re fun to eat. Pass the napkins around and dig into a plateful of saucy, meaty ribs and enjoy every bite! Making ribs isn’t hard, and I’ve got the best tips, tricks, and failproof ways to show you how to make ribs!

bbq ribs close up being held with a hand

Want to know how to make ribs? They’re not hard, but they do take a while to cook for them to be tender and delicious. You can cook pork ribs in the oven, in a smoker, in a slow cooker, and more, and I’ve broken down the 411 on ribs with all you need to know to make the best ribs on the planet!

Different Kinds Of Pork Ribs

Before we dive into the how-to-cook ribs part, you need to understand the different kinds of ribs. Not all pork ribs are created equal! Here are the main types:

Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are called baby because they’re small ribs. They’re cut from the highest part of the rib and tend to be leaner and meatier than the other cuts. You might see them labeled as loin back ribs. They are also the most expensive of all the ribs, partly because of demand. They’re the tastiest and most popular! Look for them when they’re on sale to save some money.

whiskey glazed ribs - rack of ribs

Spare Ribs

Also called side ribs, these ribs feature a longer bone and tend to be fattier. Many say these have more flavor because of that fat, but that’s up to you to decide. Spare ribs take longer to cook, so make sure you’ve got the better part of the day to deal with these meaty bones.

St. Louis Ribs

These are spare ribs that have been trimmed and cut so that they’re neat and tidy for presentation. They are often sold squared, which means the point part of the rib is cut away. The meat is the same, and so is the cooking time, as it is for spare ribs. You may have to order these from your butcher or trim them yourself at home.

Other Ribs

There are a variety of other cuts that fall into the rib category, and some of them aren’t really ribs at all!

  • Riblets – Cut from a whole slab of ribs, so they’re small. These are great as appetizers or finger food.
  • Button ribs – Made famous by Applebees, these are thin strips of meat and bone cut from the side of the spine.
  • Country-style ribs – These aren’t ribs at all, but rather meaty strips cut from the blade or shoulder. They can have a bone in them or be boneless, but they’re not related at all to ribs. They are delicious, though, especially when they’re slowly cooked in the oven or low and slow in the crockpot.
  • Short Ribs – These aren’t pork but these beef ribs can’t be missed. They earned their name because they contain “short” pieces of rib bones encased in meat. While they offer less meat than steak, they have more meat than other beef rib varieties. They are rich and full of flavor and when you take the time to braise them, they will explode with flavor & melt in your mouth.
ribs cooking on a grill

How To Prep Ribs For Cooking

No matter what kind of ribs you buy, chances are the silver skin is still attached. This membrane needs to be removed before cooking because it really doesn’t break down in the cooking process. Instead, it tightens up and can cause your ribs to curl in on themselves.

To remove the membrane from the ribs, cut a corner away from the backside of the ribs and grab it with a piece of paper towel. Pull it slowly away from the ribs – it should come off nicely.

How To Cook Ribs

Now that you’ve got your ribs and they are ready for cooking, how do you cook them? Ribs can be slowly cooked in the oven, in a slow cooker, or in a smoker. You can finish the ribs on a grill or under the broiler.

Here’s a breakdown of the best ways to cook ribs.

Oven Baked Ribs

Wrap seasoned ribs tightly in foil and set them on a baking sheet with raised sides. Slowly cook them in the oven at 300-F for about 3 hours or until they are fall-off-the-bone-tender. These Baked Baby Back Ribs with Whiskey Glaze are a great example of oven-baked ribs.

Slow Cooker Ribs

This is one of my favorite ways to make ribs because it’s pretty much set it and forget it! Add the ribs and your ingredients to the slow cooker, and then let it do its job.


If you’re fortunate to have a backyard smoker, smoked ribs are delicious! They benefit from cooking low and slow, so give yourself plenty of time. Pair your smoked ribs with tasty sides like slow-cooked pinto beans or creamy coleslaw.


Wrapping your ribs with aluminum foil is key if you want to lock in all of the moisture and flavor! Double wrap each rack of ribs securely. Depending on the heat of your grill, your ribs should take about 1½ to 2 hours in total. Remove the foil, glaze, & return to a hot grill to quickly sear each side and caramelize the sauce.

Easy BBQ Boneless Country Style Ribs in a crockpot with a blue rimmed plate with a few ribs on it too

Glazes and Sauces

To make your ribs even more delicious, don’t forget to add some sauce or a glaze. This Jack Daniels sauce is amazing on ribs, or try this honey-chipotle sauce on them and lock in all the flavor with a quick trip to a hot grill.

Tips For Making The Best Ribs

  • Buy enough ribs! Count on about 6 baby back ribs per person, or 4-5 spare ribs.
  • Give yourself enough time! The best ribs are never rushed; they need time to cook.
  • Serve great sides
  • Have lots of napkins on hand – ribs are finger food!
The BEST Whiskey Glazed Ribs on a plate with baked beans and corn on the cob |