This easy recipe for oven ribs makes the most tender, fall off the bone smoky chipotle pork ribs you ever had! (and they are keto & sugar-free!)
The preparation is super simple: just prepare the smoky chipotle keto dry rub, massage the ribs with it, wrap in aluminum foil and take it into the oven for about 2 hours. That’s it!
The best way to cook ribs
Foil wrapped ribs in the oven is the best way to cook ribs, period. Attention: I said it’s the best way to COOK ribs, I didn’t claim that’s the best way to EAT ribs that have been cooked by someone else. Although, it could be, depending 😉
Wrapping the ribs in foil before taking them into the oven guarantees an easy clean up, and prevents the meat from drying out or overcooking – so you don’t have to obsess checking on it or make the mistake of switching the oven off too soon.
Keep ribs from drying out
The tougher cuts of meat, like ribs, pork shoulder or brisket need to be cooked for a long time, to soften up the connective tissue. But the drawback is that the meat ends losing up all the moisture and getting dry.
The foil traps in the moisture so the meat is slowly cooked on its own juices while reabsorbing them, getting extra juicy, succulent and melting in your mouth.
Are ribs keto friendly
One would think yes, since it’s meat, right? Unfortunately, most times when you order ribs anywhere they’ve been slathered in rubs that take CUPS of brown sugar, honey and/or molasses, and then topped off with a super sweet BBQ sauce. Ribs are basically meat lollipops.
So, the answer to are ribs keto? is a no. The only way to be sure you have keto ribs is making them yourself, without adding sugar. With this easy sugar-free rib recipe, you can have keto ribs as often as you want!
The ribs: you can use any type of pork ribs, baby back ribs (loin ribs) or spare ribs, either untrimmed or St. Louis style. Just avoid country style “ribs” because they aren’t actually ribs, but more of a chop or steak.
The LikeHotKeto rib rub recipe has no sugar, no sweetener or honey/syrups at all – instead, some garlic and onion powder give a touch of sweetness, and believe me, it’s enough. It’s refreshing to actually taste the meat and not the sugary sauce on top!
How to buy ribs
- A good rack of ribs is at least one inch thick, with plenty of meat.
- Fat should ideally be marbled throughout. Avoid big fat chunks, as these will melt down during cooking and become holes.
- The meat coverage should be even, with no “shiners”, which are bones that show through when too much meat is cut off near the bone. It can make the meat fall out as it shrinks during cooking.
- Lastly, try to buy unaltered ribs if you can – ribs that haven’t been “enhanced” or “plumped” with salt water, and whatever else they might be using (preservatives, flavorings, artificial colors…)
Pick up whatever style of ribs you like, or the best priced one – as I mentioned, this recipe works for spare ribs as well as for baby back ribs or St. Louis style spare ribs.
How to make smoky ribs in the oven
Mix keto dry rub
Start by preheating the oven to 180 °C (350 °F). In a small bowl, mix together the 5 ingredients for the sugar-free rib rub: salt, smoked paprika and smoked chipotle powder, plus garlic and onion powder.
Grab the aluminum foil (you can also use parchment paper) and lay it across the working surface. Use a heavy duty aluminum foil, or if the foil is thinner you can double wrap the ribs to avoid any poke throughs.
Optional: membrane removal
Lay the rack of ribs on the foil, and check the backside to see if your butcher was kind enough to have the membrane removed. I got this one sans membrane, so I don’t have photos to show you, but I’ll tell you how to do it:
- Place the ribs bone side up. Holding the ribs up from the middle, carefully slide a butter knife, or the end of a spoon, between the membrane and the meat.
- Shove the knife/spoon in slowly, jiggling it until you get it under the membrane. When you manage to lift up enough, slide your finger in between the membrane and the ribs, grab a hold of it and pull it off.
- If it’s hard to grab the membrane, you can use a sheet of paper towel to help hold onto the membrane while you pull.
If you need a visual, you can see clearly on this video of how to get the membrane removed.
What to do with the rib membrane is a personal choice, so if you find it hard to pull it off (some are tougher than others), just leave it, or score it. It’s been tested: There’s no significant difference. The only thing is, the ribs might not fall of the bone with the membrane on, but just because it holds to the meat.
With the membrane taken care of (or not), now it’s time to rub the rub all over the rib rack, massaging it sensuously (or not).
Wrap the aluminum foil tightly around the ribs, making sure there are no holes. Place the bundle of joy atop a roasting rack (so it gets equal heat from all sides) and take it into the oven for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
When you open the foil, you can tell the keto ribs are ready if you see that the meat has shrunk away from the bones. Careful now, if you removed the membrane it’s going to be seriously difficult to transfer it to a serving dish all in one piece (as it will be so soft as to break down in the middle as you lift).
If you wish, you can remove the foil, turn on the broiler and the temperature up to 240 °C (460 °F) and take the ribs back into the oven for a few more minutes to get the ribs to char or just crispy on the top.
To tell the truth, I’ll mostly eat these smoky chipotle ribs by themselves. My hands are too busy to deal with side dishes… or even drinks. I have to use a straw.
On the same potato theme, this turnip and garlic mash also makes a great pairing! And you might not need cutlery, if you can manage to scoop the mash up with the ribs… yum!
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