Once you try this recipe for air fryer ribs, you’ll never make them any other way!
Is it really possible to have succulent, fall-off-the-bone ribs ready in just 25 minutes? With the air fryer, it is, and it’ll blow your taste buds away.
Honestly, I never thought it would work. There was a part of me that kept saying ribs are meant to be cooked on the grill, and the grill alone.
But my intense desire to get my hands on juicy, finger-licking ribs in less than an hour was stronger.
So I tried it. And oh my God, it changed my life. It will change yours, too!
If you’re a meat-lover, you have to try these air fryer ribs today. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Air Fryer Ribs
Thanks to the air fryer, you and your family can enjoy the best-tasting ribs, even on a busy weeknight!
Want to make your loved ones’ jaws drop and their mouths water? If you’re cooking only one thing this week, let it be these air fryer ribs.
It doesn’t take much to make the most drool-worthy BBQ ribs! Four ingredients are all you’ll need:
- Pork Back Ribs – Baby back ribs are best. Spare ribs also work, but you’ll need to cook them longer.
- Salt and Pepper – For seasoning the ribs. It’s nothing fancy, but the flavors are spot on!
- BBQ Sauce – Either homemade or store-bought. What matters is that you like the flavor.
Tips for the Best Ribs
- Check your air fryer’s manual to see whether you need to preheat it before cooking. Mine doesn’t, but yours might!
- Let the ribs warm to room temperature before cooking. If you cook the meat immediately after taking it out of the fridge, the high heat will shock it, yielding unevenly cooked ribs.
- Before seasoning the ribs, pat them dry with a paper towel to help them soak up the marinade better.
- This recipe calls only for salt and pepper to season the ribs. As long as you season both sides generously, you’re good! You can certainly spice things up by adding more, such as cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, and cumin. You can also use your favorite rub.
- Marinate the ribs in salt and pepper overnight for more a flavorful dish.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer. Arrange them in a single layer and avoid overlapping or stacking. The ribs need enough space to cook. If your air fryer isn’t big enough to fit all the ribs, don’t force it! You can always cook in batches.
- The extra 5 minutes of cooking towards the end give your ribs an extra crispy crust. If you’re not a fan, you can take out the ribs after cooking the bony sides.
- Monitor the ribs closely towards the end of cooking to avoid burning.
- For an extra smoky rack of ribs, pour a few drops of liquid smoke over the ribs after you brush them with BBQ sauce.
- The best way to test for doneness is through a meat thermometer. The USDA says that cooked pork ribs have a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the meat’s tissues and collagens have a higher melting point, so at this stage, the ribs will still be tough and rubbery.
You’ll want the temperature to be somewhere between 185 to 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, let visual cues guide you. The meat should pull away from the bone, revealing about half an inch of the bone at the thinner end.
- Let the ribs rest for 5 minutes before eating to allow time for the juices to redistribute through the meat.
- Side dish options:
- Caesar salad – creamy and refreshing!
- French fries, potato salad, or scalloped potatoes – any potato dish works.
- Cornbread muffins – for a hearty southern feast.
- Macaroni salad – the perfect cool side for a hot dish.
- Macaroni and cheese – there’s nothing better than ribs and mac and cheese!
Removing the Membrane
That thin, silver membrane on the underside of the ribs is completely edible. Technically, you need not remove it, though I highly suggest you do.
You see, as the membrane cooks, it gets super tough and bothersome to eat. Without it, the ribs will be 10 times more tender and flavorful.
Don’t worry, removing the membrane is very easy. Here’s how:
Place the ribs on a chopping board with the rack-side facing up. Slide a knife under the membrane, lift, and loosen it up.
You can then peel off that silver skin effortlessly with your hands. If it’s too slippery, use a dry kitchen towel or paper towel to help with your grip.
What Side to Cook the Ribs on First
When slow cooking your meat, it’s important to use indirect heat. That said, whenever I cook ribs on the grill, I place the bony side down first.
However, this is not the case when using the air fryer. The whole process takes only 20 minutes, so you want to expose the meaty side to direct heat as much as possible.
With this in mind, it makes more sense to cook the ribs with the meaty side down first. Flip the ribs over after 10 minutes, and cook the other side for another 10.
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