My Grandma’s recipe for country style ribs baked in the oven are literally fall-off-the-bone tender topped with jammy sweet onions in a homemade BBQ sauce.
These country style ribs aren’t your summertime picnic BBQ ribs. You don’t eat them with your hands—a fork is much preferred—and while they’re supremely easy to prepare, you’re far more likely to find them on the menu of an upscale restaurant than a good-old-boy BBQ shack.
Braised in the oven with a homemade BBQ sauce and topped with sliced onions that become sweet and jammy, these country style pork ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender and make a mostly hands-off prepped dinner. My grandma Frieda used to make these the day we arrived for our annual visit and always said they taste even better the next day—perfect for making ahead of time. They were always our welcome dinner for that first night, keeping warm in the oven until we arrived.
Still today, the smell of these ribs cooking in the oven takes me back to walking into her arms filled with kisses, and the sweet and savory smell of BBQ ribs in the oven.
Ingredients for Fall Off the Bone Oven Baked Country Style Ribs
Going through my grandma’s recipes and seeing three different recipe cards written in her elegant, now 100-year old German-immigrant script proves she made these ribs time and again. Since it is such a family favorite, I of course recorded it in my very first recipe book too.
Even for a novice cook like I was back then, the list of ingredients to make this flavorful dinner are fantastically basic and far from intimidating:
- Country-style pork ribs, with bones when you can find them (my dad’s preference every time)
- Soy sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Dry sherry wine (not sherry vinegar)
- Chili powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
What’s the Difference with Country Style Ribs and Spare Ribs?
For way too long I was confused on which ribs to use for this recipe. I tried to persuade my mom that they were short ribs. But I was definitely proven wrong when I found my Grandma’s original recipes.
But my fluster didn’t end there when I read each of her recipe cards where she called for country style spare ribs or oxtails.
So what’s the difference between country style ribs and spare ribs?
Both ribs come from pork. Country style ribs aren’t actually ribs at all, and come from the shoulder area, the same area of the hog as a pork shoulder roast used for pork tacos, pulled pork, and more. Spare ribs come from the rib section, have longer bones, and can be tough when cooked. Country style ribs are thicker and have more fat which means they’re more tender and flavorful than spare ribs.
For this recipe, look for country style ribs with bones that infuse more flavor as they cook. Plus like I said, they’re my dad’s favorite.
How to Prepare These Country Style Ribs
As I mentioned above, the steps in this recipe are incredibly easy to follow:
- Season, flour, and brown the ribs.
- Whisk together your homemade BBQ sauce.
- Add sliced onions to the top of the browned ribs.
- Pour the sauce over the ribs and onions.
- Braise the ribs in the oven low and slow and just try and stop eating the fall-off-the-bone, tender bites
How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce
This homemade BBQ sauce holds pretty true to the basic tenents of any BBQ sauce by balancing savory and sweet with a hint of heat.
Catsup and sugar add the sweetness while vinegar adds the tang.
Depth in the sauce comes alive with soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce’s complex umami, while garlic, pepper, and chili powder bring on the subtle heat.
Grandma calls for dry sherry wine in this sauce, but another sweet wine like Marsala or Madeira would work well too. Or if you’re alcohol averse, skip it and add 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or hard apple cider instead, but the depth and complexity won’t quite be the same.
Brown Those Ribs for Flavor
The ribs are seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper then tossed lightly in flour to encourage more flavor and thicken the sauce as they braise. I rest them on a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack so the bottoms don’t get gummy as they sit.
Brown the ribs in batches over medium to medium high heat. Be careful not to overload the pan or you’ll create too much steam and the ribs won’t develop the brown crisp crust. Wipe any burned bits from the pan between batches, but don’t get rid of the golden crisp critters left behind, they’re the flavor makers.
Sauce It Up
Adding water to this homemade BBQ sauce thins it just enough to create a sauce that cooks down and adds loads of flavor as the ribs bake in the oven.
Be sure to whisk the sauce well before adding to the ribs so all the seasonings transfer to the pan.
If you like to work ahead, the sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead of time, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Onions + BBQ Sauce + Slow Braise in the Oven = Jammy Onions
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE these ribs. But it’s the jammy cooked onion to rib ratio that makes this recipe super special to me.
Slice the onions first in half, then slice the onions tip to tail into half moons. Don’t go too thin or they’ll break down and disappear into nothingness as the sauce reduces.
You’ll notice that the last half hour is when the onions really get down and do their caramelizing thing. If they seem too firm, cook longer and check every 15 minutes until soft.
Make These Ribs Ahead of Time
As mentioned above, Grandma always said these taste best the second day so feel free to bake them up, then refrigerate, and serve the next day.
Reheat in a 350° oven for 20 minutes or until warmed through. Pull from the refrigerator to come to room temperature while the oven heats to warm up faster.
How to Freeze Oven Baked BBQ Ribs
This recipe makes a big batch, so if you have leftovers to freeze, take advantage of the fact! Freeze individual portions in freezer safe containers for up to 2 months. To reheat, bake at 350° oven for 30-40 minutes or until warmed through.
Side Dish Ideas to Serve with This Dinner to Make a Meal
- Easy Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes
- Easy Green Beans with Browned Butter Almondine
- How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
- Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta
- Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
- The Best Buttery Parsley Potatoes
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Grandma’s Fall Off the Bone BBQ Country Style Ribs
Use bone-in country style ribs for this recipe. The bones add tenderness and moisture to the ribs and flavor and thicken the homemade BBQ sauce as it cooks.
For Browning the Ribs
- 5 pounds country style pork ribs with bones
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 medium yellow onions sliced 3/8" thick
For the BBQ Sauce
- 3/4 cup catsup
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup dry sherry wine
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
Line a baking sheet with a cooling rack. Working in batches, season the pork ribs on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper and lightly toss in flour. Transfer the ribs to the baking sheet and set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven (with a lid) over medium/medium high heat. When the oil is warm and shimmering, brown the ribs in batches, turning on all sides until golden, about 15-20 minutes per batch. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or the ribs will steam and won't get that delicious golden crust. Transfer the browned ribs back to the baking sheet and wipe any burned pieces out of the pan. Add the remaining oil, and continue browning the rest of the ribs.
While the ribs are cooking, mix the BBQ sauce ingredients together and preheat the oven to 325°F.
Add all of the ribs back to the pan, snuggling them evenly together. Scatter the tops with the sliced onions. Whisk the BBQ sauce and pour evenly over the onions and ribs. Cover tightly with the lid and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the onions are soft and jammy and the pork is tender. Midway through cooking, I usually open the oven and spoon the sauce over the ribs and onions.
Skim any excess fat from the sauce if needed (depending on how fatty the ribs are) and serve hot with au gratin or mashed potatoes with the sauce and onions spooned on top.
This dish can be cooked the day before and refrigerated until ready to serve. Grandma said it always tasted better that way.
To rewarm the ribs, remove from the refrigerator while the oven heats to 350°F, cover with a lid, and bake for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through.
More Comfort Food Dinner Ideas
- Beef Bourguignon
- Grandma’s Easy German Schnitzel
- Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe With Ground Beef
- Easy Chicken Piccata
- My Favorite Shrimp and Grits Recipe
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
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