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Can you overcook ribs?

Better than the BBQ: Cooking Ribs in the Oven. But, Can you overcook ribs?

Can you overcook ribs? With summer fast approaching, the smell of BBQs is beginning to fill the air.

But there’s one lip-smackingly delicious item that’s fallen into decline over the past few years: BBQ pork ribs.

can you overcook ribs

Sure, you can still find succulent racks of ribs at professional BBQ establishments, but for the humble home chef, throwing a rack of ribs onto the grill can be a daunt- ing and time consuming process.

Whilst we totally understand why many budding grill chefs plump for more simple BBQ fare, it’s a crying shame that many are scared at the prospect of tackling a rack of delicious ribs.

With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to cooking ribs the easy way, and getting these meaty, mouth-watering morsels back on the menu.

Ribs Need Low and Slow Cooking

If you’re used to quick and easy BBQ basics like burgers or sausages, cooking ribs can come with a bit of a learning curve:

Perfect, melt in the mouth ribs need low and slow cooking, to achieve this, your BBQ requires some pretty specific features:

  • A very even and controllable low heat output.
  • Enough space so that the grill is a good distance from the open flames.
  • A lid to trap in the heat and even out the temperature.

Even if you have a high-end BBQ with those features, you’re going to need to keep a watchful eye on the ribs as they slow cook to make sure the temperature and hu- midity are exactly on point. If you get this wrong, your rack of ribs will emerge from the BBQ overcooked and resembling an old leather boot.

There’s no two ways about it: Cooking ribs on a BBQ is inefficient and difficult.

Cooking Ribs in a Convection Oven

OK, so you really want to serve ribs at your next BBQ party, and you’ve decided that your BBQ isn’t up to the task. So how are you going to pull this off?

Simple: Use your standard kitchen convection oven and get the ribs cooking a good few hours before your guests arrive.

The best part? Cooking ribs in a regular oven is simple. It’s also a set-and-forget process that you can leave unattended whilst you prepare the rest of your BBQ food.

Perfect convection ovens for cooking ribs:

The Super Easy Method for Cooking Ribs in the Oven:

  • Take your ribs out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking.
  • Remove the membrane on the back of the ribs
  • Preheat your oven to 225 °F, or 110 °C.
  • Pat the ribs dry with kitchen towel.
  • Cut the rack of ribs into thirds.
can you overcook ribs
  • Massage a dry spice rub into the ribs.
  • Put all the ribs into a big folded tinfoil pouch.
  • Pour in half a cup (120ml) or apple juice or stock.
  • Scrunch up the top of the pouch to seal everything inside.
  • Cook for 3-4 hours depending on weight.
  • Removing the membrane: Flip your ribs upside down, then, starting at one end, carefully slice the white, tough membrane away from the ribs. Once you have enough cut away, use your hands to peel it back from the bones. Leaving the membrane in- tact results in a chewy, horrible mess when finished!

Can You Overcook Ribs in the Oven?

Not really!

If you’re able to set your oven at a low enough temperature, it’s not really possible to overcook your ribs. The trick to the slow cooking process is to keep a low but consistent heat, and make doubly sure that the foil parcel containing your ribs is properly sealed. That way, the apple juice or stock added into the pouch effectively steams the ribs, keeping them succulent and tender, and locking in the moisture.

Tip: Don’t be tempted to pierce the foil pouch to check on the progress of your ribs. You ned to keep the moisture locked in to prevent them overcook- ing.

Finishing the Process:

After a long slow cook in the oven, your ribs should emerge from their foil pouch tender, moist, and almost flaking from the bone.

At this point, all you need to do is finish them off on the BBQ for a few minutes to give them an authentic, charred, smokey flavor:

  • Place the ribs on a plate.
  • Baste them evenly with BBQ sauce.
  • When you’re ready to serve, simply BBQ them until the sauce is sticky, dark, and caramelized. It shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes.

Still Great Without the BBQ!

Even if you’re not planning a BBQ party, this method of cooking ribs is great for any occasion: Simply replace the final BBQ step with a few minutes under a hot oven grill until the sauce coating is nicely browned.

Experimenting With Flavors!

Now you have the basic cooking method for tender, mouthwatering ribs, it’s time to discuss flavorings.

The Dry Rub.

The dry rub for your ribs forms a “base flavor”. The one we’re using is a classic Southern USA style rub, that blends sweetness, acidity, a little chili kick and a deep red hue. Once you’ve attempted this recipe a few times, it becomes easy to substitute spices to give radically different flavors:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ready to use dry rubs

can you overcook ribs

The BBQ Sauce.

For the BBQ basting sauce, it’s best to keep things simple:

  • 8 tbsp good quality tomato ketchup
  • 8 tbsp soft brown sugar
  •  2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika

The more sugar and soy sauce you add, the faster the ribs will caramelize and char when they get hot on the BBQ or under the grill. That means you’re going to want to carefully monitor your ribs during the final stages of cooking to prevent over- cooking.

Perfect BBQ sauces for ribs

Slow Cookers: An Alternative to Oven Cooking.

If you own a slow cooker (or an Instant Pot with a slow cook function) this could be a great alternative to cooking your ribs in a regular oven. The biggest challenge when using a slow cooker for ribs is that they rarely fit prop- erly into the round pot. This can be remedied by cutting the ribs into smaller serving-sized portions and then piling them into the pot along with the apple juice marinade.

can you overcook ribs

As far as cooking times go, slow cookers are even more forgiving than convection ovens, so it’s virtually impossible to overcook your ribs: Simply let them bubble away on a low setting for around 8 hours and check periodically. Once you’re finished, baste with BBQ sauce and grill in the same way mentioned previously.

Slow cookers for slow cooking meat

Cooking Ribs doesn’t needs to be Nerve Wracking!

Sticky, slow cooked ribs are a mouthwatering centre piece for a summer BBQ party. Using an oven to cook your ribs low and slow practically guarantees great results, and helps to relieve some stress for the busy BBQ chef!



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