Easy Saucy Dutch Oven Ribs Recipe

Sharing is caring!

Juicy, flavorful, tender ribs cooked low and slow in a dutch oven are the most delicious bbq pork ribs you'll ever make in an oven! Make these whenever you're hankering for some fall off the bone bbq.

Want some more amazing bbq? Try our foolproof recipe for the best smoked brisket of your LIFE, creamy bbq pulled pork mac and cheese, or tasty brisket sandwiches with coleslaw.

a rack of dutch oven ribs with three ribs cut from the rack

My Secret to Easy, Tender, Slow Cooked Spare Ribs

Let's talk about the best way to cook ribs. Now if you love ribs as much as I do, you know a long cooking time low and slow is what is going to give the best results: juicy ribs full of flavor that you can cut with a butter knife.

Slow cooking is obviously the best way to make this classic comfort food but when a grill or smoker is out of the question and it's 10 degrees outside I'm cranking up the oven and we're throwing these babies right on in.

Thanks to dutch ovens being a sort of little oven themselves, perfectly keeping the juices and flavor of the ribs locked in, we have an easy, foolproof way to the most tender, meaty, saucy spare ribs you'll ever eat.

This post may contain Affiliate Links. Please see my Full Disclosure Policy for more details.

Jump to:

Why You'll Love these Easy Dutch Oven Ribs

  • Make in the Oven or on the Grill - cooking ribs in the oven is so easy, but you can make these ribs on the grill in the dutch oven.
  • Totally Foolproof - you can't mess this recipe up...as long as you follow these simple directions. I even have step-by-step instructions with photos for you. It's SO easy.
  • Perfect to Take to a Cookout or Picnic - put the ribs back into the dutch oven or even in a slow cooker and keep them warm until it's time to head to wherever you're going.
ribs being seasoned with dry rub on a baking sheet

Equipment You'll Need

  • Chef's Knife and Cutting Board
  • Rib Membrane Remover - I love this thing, it's like really awesome grippy pliers that make grabbing and pulling the membrane off (and picking out pin bones in fish!) a breeze.
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Paper Towels
  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven - a large dutch oven is essential here. They are created to be small ovens, they hold even heat well and for long periods of time.
  • Silicone Basting Brush - this one has special bristles that have holes to hold extra sauce!
  • Baking Dish or Baking Sheet - for getting the sauce to really stick to the ribs, we're going to expose them in the oven to dry heat.

Ingredients

Full ingredients, measurements, and printable instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

ingredients for dutch oven ribs labeled
  • Spice Rub - this is an incredibly easy mix: sea salt, garlic powder some chili pepper and smoked paprika, a little mustard, sometimes brown sugar for sweetness...
  • BBQ Sauce - use whatever one you like, I love my homemade barbecue sauce, but I can always get down with a good Stubbs sauce.
  • St. Louis Style Ribs - I love these for how meaty and flavorful they are! These are definitely what I call 'dinner ribs', they're the heartier option.
  • Splash of Water - this is for giving a little steam in our dutch oven. I find that it helps the cooking process, keeps the ribs nice and moist.

Baby Back Ribs vs St. Louis Ribs

Pork ribs can come in different ways: baby back, spare, even boneless country-style ribs. 

At the grocery store, you're going to come across them all. And this recipe works with all types of ribs, but am I not a teacher? Let's talk about the differences between baby back ribs and St. Louis style spare ribs.

Baby back come from the upper back part of the ribs, at the spine, while the spare ribs are from the front (think sternum) near the belly.

Baby back ribs are small, tender and lean, and spare ribs are well marbled with fat and flavor because they're closer to the belly of the pig, with more meat.

close up of the side of a very tender spare rib

What makes a spare rib St. Louis style? Spare ribs often come with extra flap meat and the breastbone portion comes with a lot of cartilage, which makes it harder to cook consistently...and no one wants to gnaw on that much gristle! 

The St. Louis cut is simply cutting those flappy parts off the spare ribs to make them more uniform for cooking and eating.

Want even more information? Check out this article on baby back ribs vs. spare ribs from Eater.

How to Make Spare Ribs in a Dutch Oven

hands pulling the membrane off of a rack of ribs

Step 1 | Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel. Use a clean paper towel to remove the membrane, pulling it away from the bone side of the ribs.

Cut the ribs in half, this is so they can all fit in your pot.

st louis style ribs baked in a dutch oven

Step 2 | Generously cover the ribs in the dry rub. Put a layer of aluminum foil at the bottom of the dutch oven, add the water, and put the ribs on top. Put on the lid and place into the oven.

Bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes at 325 degrees until the ribs are cooked through, around 195 degrees F if you're using a meat thermometer.

cooked ribs covered in bbq sauce

Step 3 | Pull the ribs from the dutch oven to a baking dish and generously brush on the barbecue sauce. Put the ribs in the oven for another 30 minutes so the sauce can get nice and sticky on them.

spare ribs that have been baked in the oven and sauced

Step 4 | Remove them from the oven; the ribs are done and sauce looks more glazed.

Variations and Substitutions

  • This recipe can be made with baby back ribs or country style ribs, though the country-style ribs will have a shorter cooking time.
  • Dry rub for the ribs can be homemade or store bought.
  • This can be done in the slow cooker! You're going to want to cook it on low for about 6 hours until the meat is tender.
  • Pour in chicken broth instead of water if you'd like for even more flavor.

Pro Tip

To ensure beautifully tender ribs, use a meat thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 195-202 degrees F, know that those babies are ready!

Storage and Reheating

Store leftover ribs in an airtight container or zip top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.

To reheat these ribs, wrap them in aluminum foil, place them back into a 325 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes until they're warmed through.

a cut dutch oven cooked spare rib sitting on a cutting board

What to Side Dishes to Serve with BBQ Ribs

Recipe FAQs

Why should I remove the membrane from ribs?

The membrane is the thick, chewy silverskin on the backside of the ribs and it blocks the dry rub from fully coating the ribs. It also makes the ribs harder to cut through and harder to eat.

How can I tell that the ribs are done cooking?

When you pull the ribs from the oven in before saucing, check if the meat easily pulls away from the bone with a fork.
If the meat is not tender and pulling off easily, they need more time. Add another 30 minutes of cooking in the dutch oven and check again.

More Dutch Oven Recipes

Click here to subscribe SWEET TEA & THYME’S NEWSLETTER for free and fresh recipes right into your inbox!

To pin this recipe and save it for later you can use the Pin button on the recipe card, the sharing buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. 

Tag me @sweet_tea_thyme on Instagram to share your remakes with me, I love looking through your photos!

Leave a 5 star rating and comment on the recipe card to let me know if you enjoyed this recipe.

📖 Recipe

spice rubbed spare ribs in a dutch oven lined with aluminum foil

Easy Dutch Oven Ribs

Eden Westbrook
This easy recipe makes the best ribs in the dutch oven. Perfectly juicy pork ribs slathered in dry rub and bbq sauce, cooked low and slow until tender and delicious.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 1 rack of spare ribs
Calories 460 kcal

Ingredients
  

Spice Rub (or use a store bought one)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili pepper

Dutch Oven Ribs

  • 1 2.5 lb rack of St. Louis Style spare ribs
  • ¼ cup water or chicken stock
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce your choice

Instructions
 

  • Mix all of the ingredients for the dry rub together in a small bowl.
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Prepare your large dutch oven by lining it with aluminum foil on the bottom of the pot.
  • Dry off the pork ribs with a paper towel. With another paper towel or rib membrane removing tool, get a secure grip on the edge of the membrane on the back of the ribs and firmly peel it off of the ribs.
  • Use a sharp chef's knife to cut between two ribs, splitting the rack in half so the ribs fit in your dutch oven.
  • Use clean hands to cover every part of the ribs in the dry rub.
  • Pour the water or broth into the pot, and place the ribs into the dutch oven as well. Put the lid on and place into the oven for 2 hours and 30 minutes at 325 degrees F until the ribs are cooked through, around 195 degrees F if you're using a meat thermometer.
  • Remove the oven baked ribs from the dutch oven and transfer them to a baking dish. Generously brush on the barbecue sauce then put the ribs in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  • Pull the ribs from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Let the ribs rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  • Slice between the ribs with your chef's knife and serve with classic cookout sides.

Notes

Variations and Substitutions

  • This recipe can be made with baby back ribs or country style ribs, though the country-style ribs will have a shorter cooking time.
  • Dry rub for the ribs can be homemade or store bought.
  • This can be done in the slow cooker! You're going to want to cook it on low for about 6 hours until the meat is tender.
  • Pour in chicken broth instead of water if you'd like for even more flavor.

Pro Tip

To ensure beautifully tender ribs, use a meat thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 195-202 degrees F, know that those babies are ready!

Storage and Reheating

Store leftover ribs in an airtight container or zip top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To reheat these ribs, wrap them in aluminum foil, place them back into a 325 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes until they're warmed through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 460kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 16gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 2169mgFiber: 2gSugar: 39g
Tried this recipe?Leave a star rating and let us know!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.