How to cook ribs in every style and method. This guide is filled with the best ribs recipes for grilled ribs, oven-baked ribs, short ribs, and crock pot ribs. Learn everything you need to know about how to make ribs whichever way you prefer!
How to Cook Ribs
Learn how to cook ribs that are absolutely perfect: tender, flavorful, and stress-free!
Ribs are one of my favorite things to eat, but they aren’t always the easiest thing to cook. It’s a slow-cooking food, so it definitely requires prep and lots of time. It’s well worth the effort though! When you bite into the tender, flavorful meat, all the work will be a distant memory.
They are a true BBQ classic, so everyone should learn how to make ribs for summer BBQs and parties. They also make a delicious dinner anytime of year. When you set a rack of ribs on the table for your family, they’ll wonder what they did to deserve such a special meal…and then they’ll fight over who gets the last rib, so make plenty!
So if you’re wondering how to cook ribs perfectly, I’m here to show you how to do that!
Here’s what’s included in this guide:
- Ribs Internal Temp
- Adding Flavor to Ribs
- Different Types of Ribs (baby back ribs vs spare ribs vs St. Louis ribs)
- Best Ribs Recipes (for cooking in the oven, on the grill, in a slow cooker, and other cooking methods)
- Best Side Dishes for Ribs
Everything you need is right here, so take notes and bookmark this guide to come back to later!
All the best ribs recipes are gathered here to help you make ribs in any style you like!
Essential Tools to Cook Ribs
Here are some items you might need to cook ribs (depending on how you cook them):
How to Cook Ribs FAQ
Ribs Internal Temp
The internal temperature of ribs should reach at least 145° F to be considered safe for eating. However, they are often cooked to a higher temperature to help break down collagen in the meat and create more tender meat.
Adding Flavor to Ribs
There are lots of ways to add more flavor to your ribs before, during, and after cooking. Use a good dry rub, season them well, try marinating them, and don’t forget alllll the BBQ sauce.
Pork ribs are quite mild on their own, so don’t forget to flavor!
Different Types of Ribs
What are baby back ribs?
Baby back ribs are the smallest part of the back ribs of a pig (“baby” refers to how small they are compared to other ribs). They are very tender and have less fat than other rib cuts, and are usually the highest priced ribs.
What are spare ribs?
Spare ribs are cut from the belly of the pig, and usually have a lot of bone compared to meat. They are fatty and tender, and larger than ribs from the back.
What are St. Louis style ribs?
St. Louis style ribs are spare ribs, but parts of the bone and meat have been removed, creating a more rectangular shape.
The term often refers to the style and cooking method popularized in the St. Louis area as well, where the ribs are grilled instead of smoked or slow-cooked like typical barbecue ribs.
What are short ribs?
Short ribs are beef instead of pork, but come from the same area as spare ribs. Short ribs are the smallest part of beef spare ribs.
What are country style ribs?
Country style ribs are cut close to the pork shoulder, so they don’t actually contain rib bones. They are very meaty cuts.
Beef Ribs vs. Pork Ribs
When you think of ribs, more than likely you’re imagining BBQ pork ribs, whether it’s baby back or spare ribs. When it comes to beef ribs, you’ll get either short ribs or beef back ribs.
Here are some of the main differences to consider between beef ribs and pork ribs:
- Beef ribs are usually larger, because they come from a larger animal (cows)
- Beef also has more fat, so they can be even more tender.
- Beef ribs have a stronger natural flavor, whereas pork ribs are easier to season to create your preferred flavor.
- Overall, pork ribs are easier to cook. Beef ribs can become quite tough if not cooked properly.
Spare Ribs vs. Baby Back Ribs
Baby back ribs are much smaller than spare ribs, and tend to have more meat in relation to size. Baby back ribs are also more curved, while spare ribs are quite flat.
Best Ribs Recipes for Every Cooking Style
Best Baked Ribs Recipe
Oven-baked ribs are typically the most popular cooking method. It leaves you with super tender, fall-off-the-bone meat, and it’s great for colder months of the year when you can’t get out to the grill. Plus it’s easier to keep an eye on them in the oven while they bake.
- How Long to Cook Ribs in the Oven at 300°F: 1 1/2-2 hours (Baby Back Ribs) or 2 1/2-3 hours (Spare Ribs)
Best Grilled Ribs Recipe
St. Louis style grilled ribs are a summer favorite here in the Midwest. It’s a great way to cook them, and they turn out so delicious!
- How Long to Cook Ribs on the Grill (St. Louis style Ribs): 5-6 Hours
Best Short Ribs Recipe
These honey bourbon shorts ribs are made in a dutch oven. It’s an easy and delicious recipe for any time of year.
- How Long to Cook Short Ribs in the Oven: 2 1/2 hours
Best Crock Pot Ribs Recipe
Did you know you could cook ribs in a slow cooker? Yes, it’s possible! This recipe is really easy.
- How Long to Cook Ribs in a Crock Pot: 5-6 hours on low setting
Other Ways to Cook Ribs
Other options for cooking ribs include boiling, smoking, frying, or even using a pressure cooker. I’ve linked some more information and recipes for these cooking methods.
Best Side Dishes for Ribs
When you serve ribs for dinner, you better not forget the sides! Any kind of BBQ calls for indulgent sides to chow down on along with the meat. These are some of our favorite side dishes for ribs.
- Creamy Coleslaw Recipe
- Instant Pot Potato Salad
- BBQ Baked Beans
- Slow Cooker Mac n Cheese
- Corn on the Cob
- Baked Potato
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Cheesy Baked Green Beans
- Texas Toast Garlic Bread
- Slow Cooker Garlic Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Pimento Cheese Grits
- Sauteed Molasses Green Beans
- Cornbread Drop Biscuits
- Bourbon Baked Beans
Check our Best BBQ Side Dishes for more ideas!
Now that you know how to cook ribs exactly how you like them, you can make the best ribs recipe any time. Oven roasted or grilled, baby back or spare ribs, whichever you prefer, you’ll be ready to cook and dig in!