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How to Smoke Ribs in the Oven

author image Michelle Kerns
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
How to Smoke Ribs in the Oven
You can give ribs a smoky flavor even when cooking in a oven. Photo Credit: AlexPro9500/iStock/Getty Images

It's possible to cook ribs in your oven to give them the type of smoky flavor usually only associated with outdoor grills or smokers. But you'll need to use a different method than what typical oven-baked rib recipes call for, says "New York Times" food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman.

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You can oven-smoke baby back ribs or spare ribs; baby back ribs are more tender, but spare ribs have more flavorful meat. Whichever you choose, be aware that ribs are high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. To include them in a balanced diet, eat them infrequently.

Preparing the Ribs

Step 1: Season the Ribs

Place salt, pepper and your choice of seasonings in a small bowl, choosing from flavorings such as cumin, regular or smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder or powdered herbs like rosemary. Stir thoroughly to combine.

Step 2: Marinade or Rub

Coat the entire rack of ribs with the seasoning mixture. Lightly wrap the rack with plastic wrap.

Step 3: Let Rest

Place the ribs in the refrigerator. Allow them to rest, undisturbed, for one hour to overnight.

Option #1: Using Wood Chips

Step 1: Spread Wood Chips

Place an even layer of oak or hickory wood chips into the bottom of a large roasting pan. Add enough water to barely cover the chips.

Step 2: Set Up Roasting Pan

Put the roasting pan's rack in place over the wood chips. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator, discard the plastic wrap and position it on the rack.

Step 3: Make a Pseudo Smoker

Make a tent around all sides of the roasting pan using aluminum foil, leaving enough space over the ribs to allow steam to circulate. Crimp the foil's edges together tightly to seal the tent.

Step 4: Put in Oven and Bake

Bake until the meat is tender, planning on approximately three hours for 2 to 3 pounds of ribs cooked at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Option #2: Using Liquid Smoke

Step 1: Add Water

Fill the bottom of a large roasting pan with several cups of water. Add liquid smoke, using about 3 tablespoons for every 2 cups of water used. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Step 2: Set Up Roasting Pan

Put the pan's rack over the water. Place the prepared ribs onto the rack.

Step 3: Bake the Ribs

Cover the top of the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the rib meat is tender: Allow around four hours for a full rack of ribs cooked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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