Easy Smoky Chipotle Oven Ribs

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!

A plate of tender smoky chipotle pork ribs.

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

A juicy baby back rib in the hand, fingers stained with paprika and chipotle rub.

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!

A dish full of sugar-free baby back ribs.

Ingredient notes

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 rub: a mix of high quality smoked chipotle and smoked paprika will give a lovely kiss of smoke flavor, a mild heat and the most flattering color to these keto ribs.

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!

Sugar-free pork rib with crisp cry rub 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

Step by step collage showing preparation of the chipotle pork ribs recipe, reading "mix salt and spices and rub on the ribs" and "wrap in aluminum foil and take into 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:

A chipotle baby back pork rib held on hand, meat falling apart.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

Raw rack of baby ribs rubbed in sugar-free rub, resting on aluminum foil.
Ribs with sugar-free dry rub ready to be wrapped in foil

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.

Side view of oven baked ribs, with a crispy outside and the bones poking underneath.

Serving suggestions

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.

If you can handle cutlery and ribs at the same time, consider a light, tangy & sweet salad or maybe these loaded roasted radishes (a good keto sub for potato).

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!


A plate of tender smoky chipotle pork ribs.

Smoky Chipotle Keto Oven Ribs

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Easy oven baked ribs, foil wrapped to get extra moist and fall off the bone tender! The keto & sugar-free dry rub gives a kiss of heat and smoke flavor!

Ingredients

Dry rub

  • 1 tablespoon coarse or kosher salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon smoked chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Ribs

  • 1 rack of pork ribs (your choice of spare ribs or baby back ribs)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (350 °F)
  2. Prepare the sugar-free dry rub by mixing the salt, smoked paprika and chipotle, and garlic and onion powders in a small bowl.
  3. Lay the ribs on the aluminum foil, and rub the spice mix all over them, including the back and sides.
  4. Wrap the foil tightly around the ribs. Use a double layer if the foil is flimsy, and ensure there are no holes.
  5. Put the foil wrapped ribs on a roasting rack (for even cooking), and take it into the oven for about 2 hours for baby back ribs, or about 2 1/2 hours for spare ribs (a larger rack of ribs needs a longer cooking time).

Notes

  • Removal of the membrane is recommended if you want the ribs to easily fall off the bone, but it isn't a must. You can also just score the membrane, or leave it untouched. Refer to post for more information.
  • If you prefer not to use aluminum foil, you can use parchment paper instead.
  • Optionally, you can crisp up or char the ribs. After removing the foil, grill or broil the ribs for about 5 to 7 minutes at 240 °C (460 °F). Watch closely as it can burn fast.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 466Total Fat: 35.2gCarbohydrates: 1.2gNet Carbohydrates: 1.2gFiber: 0.8gSugar: 0gProtein: 35.4g

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