These are the best Air Fryer Ribs – so tender, crispy, and flavorful but not fall-off-the-bone! It’s a super easy recipe that takes 30 minutes to make. Baby back ribs are seasoned with a simple dry rub, and then cooked in the air fryer, finally coated with a homemade sticky barbecue sauce. They are juicy, finger-licking delicious pork ribs and so addictive!
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Cooking Ribs in the Air Fryer
Hi guys, you don’t have to wait for a long time to get your ribs cooked perfectly! The biggest benefit of cooking ribs in the air fryer is that they cook so much faster than traditional low-and-slow methods such as baking, grilling, smoking or sous vide. Plus, they are so easy to make and incredibly flavorful! Perfect for a weeknight meal. Note that the texture is tender but not fall-off-the-bone.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the air fryer pork ribs, you’ll need
- Pork baby back ribs: You can also use spare ribs for this recipe, but they’ll need a longer cooking time.
- Spices (garlic powder, paprika, ground cumin, salt, and ground black pepper)
And for the homemade barbecue sauce, you’ll need:
- Brown sugar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Ground Cumin
- Salt and Pepper
How To Cook Air Fryer Ribs
1. Remove the membrane: Peel off the silverskin from the back of the ribs. This helps to make more flavorful and tender ribs.
2. Divide the rack: Cut the rack of pork ribs into 2-3 sections so that it can fit into your air fryer basket.
3. Make the spice rub: In a small bowl, mix the dry rub seasonings.
4. Season the baby back ribs: Rub the ribs on all sides with the spice rub.
5. Cook the ribs in air fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 375°F/190°C for a few minutes. Once hot, place the ribs into the basket with the meat side down and cook for 15 minutes. Use kitchen tongs to flip the ribs, and cook for 10 more minutes at 375°F/190°C.
6. Make the BBQ sauce: While the ribs are cooking, you can add bbq sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
7. Brush the ribs with BBQ sauce: Remove the basket from the air fryer and brush generously with barbecue sauce on all sides. Place the basket back in the air fryer and cook for 3-5 more minutes at 400°F/200°C, or until the sauce has set and darkened slightly. (It may take more or less time based on the thickness or your ribs and the model of your air fryer.)
8. Let the ribs rest: Remove the ribs from the basket and let them rest for 5 minutes so that the juices can redistribute through the meat. Feel free to brush with more barbeque sauce if you like.
Tips And Tricks For Making The Best Baby Back Ribs In The Air Fryer
- Remove the membrane for more flavorful and tender ribs.
- Preheat the air fryer BEFORE placing the ribs into the basket. This will help to avoid the ribs from sticking to the basket.
- Arrange the ribs in the basket properly, overlapping as little as possible.
- Increasing the temperature after brushing the ribs with the BBQ sauce will create a crispy texture on the exterior while making the sauce sticky.
- Watch very closely during the last few minutes so that your ribs won’t get burned.
Sweet And Sticky Barbecue Sauce
You can use store-bought or any other bbq sauce you like, but I love our homemade sweet and sticky sauce. It takes just a few minutes to make, and it’s so flavorful with the combination of ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and other spices. You can find how to make it in the recipe.
What Temperature Do You Cook Air Fryer Ribs?
We find cooking the ribs at 375°F for about 25 minutes and finishing up at at 400°F create a nice balance of juicy ribs and crispy exterior.
While the minimum internal temperature for pork ribs should reach 145°F according to USDA, the collagens and connective tissue don’t start to melt at a higher temperate. We’ve found the internal temperature should reach 185-203°F to get tender and juicy ribs. An instant-read thermometer is very useful when checking the internal temp.
How Long Do You Cook Pork Ribs In The Air Fryer?
It takes about 30 minutes in total to cook the ribs in the air fryer. You’ll need to cook them at 375°F for 25 minutes first, then increase the temperate to 400°F and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the ribs as well as your air fryer, so adjust accordingly.
How Do You Tenderize Ribs In An Air Fryer?
Tenderizing ribs is an important step to ensure they are juicy and flavorful. Before cooking, remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs. You can also marinate them for several hours to make them extra tender.
Seasonings For Air Fryer Ribs
The seasoning options for air fryer ribs are endless. You can use a dry rub or a wet marinade, depending on your preference. Some popular seasonings for ribs include garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and find your perfect combination.
How To Serve Air Fryer Ribs
Air fryer ribs are perfect for any occasion, from game day to family dinners. Serve them with your favorite sides, such as coleslaw, potato salad, or cornbread. Don’t forget to have extra napkins on hand because these ribs are going to be messy and finger-licking good!
How To Store Air Fryer Ribs
If you want to save your ribs for later, allow them to cool down completely before storing them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Can I Freeze Pork Ribs?
Yes, pork ribs can be frozen for later use. To freeze, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. When you’re ready to use them, let them thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
How To Reheat Air Fryer Ribs
To reheat air fryer ribs, preheat your air fryer to 350°F and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until they are heated through. You can also reheat them in the oven by placing them on a baking sheet and cooking at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.
Make Ahead Instructions
To make your life easier, you can prepare your ribs ahead of time. Season them and store them in the fridge for up to 24 hours before cooking. When you’re ready to cook, simply place them in the air fryer and follow the cooking instructions.
Recipe Tools For Making Air Fryer Ribs
- Air Fryer: This is my second air fryer and I absolutely love it!
- Tongs: To flip and removing asparagus from the basket.
- Mixing bowls
How To Remove the Membrane/Skin Off Ribs?
For the most tender ribs, I recommend removing the thin membrane covering the rack. It takes a few minutes and is really easy:
First flip the ribs with rack-side facing up. Then carefully slide a knife under the silverskin. Lift and loosen the membrane off the bone, and then you can peel it off the back of the ribs easily. (Watch our video to see the details.)
Which Side Do You Cook Ribs?
I recommend placing the meat side down in the basket first, as the extra fat on the bone side will cook down and add more flavor as they cook. Flip after 15 minutes for even cooking.
How To Cook Pork Ribs In The Oven?
If you don’t have an air fryer, you can still make delicious ribs in the oven. Preheat your oven to 275°F and place the seasoned ribs on a baking sheet. Cover them with foil and cook for 3-4 hours, or until they are tender.
How To Cut Ribs Easily?
Cutting ribs can be a messy and challenging task, but it doesn’t have to be. To make it easier, flip the ribs over so that the bones are facing up. Use a sharp knife to cut between the bones, and you’ll have perfectly sliced ribs in no time.
More Air Fryer Recipes
- Air Fryer Tortilla Chips
- Air Fryer Hard Boiled Eggs
- Air Fryer Potato Chips
- Air Fryer Frozen French Fries
Air Fryer Ribs Recipe (+Video)
Ribs and Dry Rub:
Sweet and Sticky BBQ Sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- Remove the membrane: Peel off the silverskin from the back of the ribs.
- Cut the rack of pork ribs into 2-3 sections so that it can fit into your air fryer basket.
- Make the spice rub: In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and cumin.
- Season the baby back ribs: Pat the ribs dry and rub the ribs on all sides with the spice rub.
- Cook the ribs in the air fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 375°F/190°C for a few minutes. Once hot, place the ribs into the basket with the meat side down and cook for 15 minutes. (It’s important to let the air fryer to heat up first to avoid the ribs from sticking to the basket.)
- Flip the ribs using kitchen tongs, and cook for 10 more minutes at 375°F/190°C.
- Make the BBQ sauce: While the ribs are cooking, you can add bbq sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
- Brush with BBQ sauce: Remove the basket from the air fryer and brush generously with barbecue sauce on all sides.
- Place the basket back in the air fryer and cook for 3-5 more minutes at 400°F/200°C, or until the sauce has set and darkened slightly. (It may take more or less time based on the thickness or your ribs)
- Remove the ribs from the basket and let them rest for 5 minutes so that the juices can redistribute through the meat. Feel free to brush with more barbeque sauce if you like.
- You can also use spare ribs for this recipe, but make sure to cook for a longer time as spare ribs are usually larger.
- If you’d like to make this recipe low carb and keto friend, you can use low carb sugar.
- Check frequently during the last few minutes so that your ribs won’t get burned.
If you tried this recipe, let me know how your air fryer ribs turn out in the comments below!