Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!)

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With this recipe for Juicy Air-Fryer Ribs, you can achieve the meat that falls off the bone with your kitchen’s new superstar appliance.

Once I got my hands on an air fryer, there was only one question: What can I make in this???

I started going through the fridge, the cupboard, the pantry, the freezer… all with hopes I can use my new device to cook my favorite dishes in exciting ways. And by “exciting” I mean “delicious, healthy, and easy.” And luckily, the air fryer delivered.

One particular recipe that has left me speechless is Air Fryer Ribs (I’m speechless ’cause my mouth is always full of Air Fryer Ribs). We’ve done Baby-Back Ribs in the Oven and Braised-Beef Short Ribs, among other varieties, but I love this version because a) I get to use my air fryer (no, the novelty has not worn off), b) it’s effortless and takes very little time, and c) air-frying is a healthy method of cooking.

Try it and you’ll see just how tasty this meal is—I’m not ribbin’ you!

What are the Different Kinds of Ribs?

First, there are beef ribs and there are pork ribs. That’s the first distinction to be made. Beef ribs are generally larger and more flavorful. They are also more expensive. Pork ribs, on the other hand, are cheaper, but are also milder in taste (some people prefer milder ribs), smaller, and take less time to cook. Pork ribs are sorta like an everyday variety while beef ribs are more for special occasions (at least in my household). Then you have the different types of cut: baby-back and spare ribs. Spare ribs are larger and flatter than baby-back and are ideal for slow-cooking. They also have connective tissue, though, which some may want to avoid. Baby-back ribs are smaller, meatier, and more tender.

Ingredients

  • 1 Rack of Spare Ribs
  • 2 tbsp Yellow Mustard
  • ¼ cup Barbecue Spice
  • ½ cup Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 Fresh green chili (optional)
Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) ingredients

How to Make Air-Fryer Spare Ribs – The Steps

Step 1: Use a sharp knife to cut the membrane off the bottom of the rack of ribs.

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) step 1

Step 2: Brush the ribs with mustard and sprinkle with barbecue spice. Cut the rack of ribs in half so that they can fit in the air fryer.

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) step 2

Step 3: Place the ribs in the air fryer bone-side up and cook at 380°F for 20 minutes.

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) step 3

Step 4: After 20 minutes, pull the basket out of the air fryer and brush the ribs all over with barbecue sauce. Replace the basket in the air fryer and cook at 390°F for 5 minutes.

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) step 4

Top Tips For Perfect Juicy Air-Fryer Ribs

  • If you doubt your skills with a knife, you can usually get the butcher who sold you the ribs to trim off the membrane.
  • Don’t overcrowd your air fryer basket; you want them spaced out a bit so all the ribs will cook evenly.
  • Let the ribs sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.
  • If you choose to forgo the mustard, pat the ribs dry so that the spice stands a better chance of sticking to the meat.
Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) step featured image below

FAQs

How big is a rack of spare ribs?

A rack of spare ribs will usually have 11 to 13 bones and measure 15 to 17 inches in length.

What if I don’t cut off the membrane from the ribs?

The membrane is tough and chewy, so your jaw will be in for a workout. In addition, the membrane prevents the meat underneath from absorbing the marinade and/or rub.

Do I need to flip the ribs?

No, the air fryer’s heat is able to access the meat from all angles

What does wrapping the ribs in aluminum do?

Aluminum can seal in the moisture and prevent the ribs from drying out. It could also expedite the cooking by retaining the heat. Last, it makes cleanup a snap. The reason I don’t use any for this recipe is because my ribs have always emerged juicy, and because I cook them at such a high temperature, I’m never left standing around the kitchen waiting for them to cook. And the kids do the cleaning up so that’s never been a concern!

What should the ribs’ internal temperature be?

The USDA (the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for those outside the U.S.) recommends an internal temperature of 145°F, but I recommend 190°F to produce more tender meat.

What variations do you recommend?

Where to start? The easiest way to change things up is to rely on the flavor built into different BBQ sauces, like honey garlic or spicy chipotle. Or you can experiment with different spices and the like: paprika, cumin, garlic powder, brown sugar, chili powder, onion powder, or Worcestershire sauce. If you can dream it, try it out!

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) step featured image below

Serving Suggestions

Brussels Sprout Salad: I love this tangy side salad, which, as the name suggests, features brussels sprouts, as well as cranberries, apple, and cheese.

Jenny’s Cornbread: Comfort food with a spicy jalapeno pop.

Smoked Corn on the Cob: Perfect for summer (or any time of year, really), it gets the piquant treatment.

Slow-Cooker Baked Beans: Another low-maintenance recipe that fits alongside the ribs.

How to Store Air Fryer Ribs

Let the ribs cool completely, then store them in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the ribs by wrapping them tightly in foil or plastic then storing them in an airtight container. They should keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat them, let them thaw in the fridge overnight, then cook in the oven or on the grill on low heat.

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs (So Easy!) step featured image below

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs

With this recipe for Juicy Air-Fryer Ribs, you can achieve the meat that falls off the bone with your kitchen's new superstar appliance.
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Rack of Spare Ribs
  • 2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
  • ¼ cup Barbecue Spice
  • ½ cup Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 Fresh green chili optional

Instructions
 

  • Use a sharp knife to cut the membrane off the bottom of the rack of ribs.
  • Brush the ribs with mustard and sprinkle with barbecue spice. Cut the rack of ribs in half so that they can fit in the air fryer.
  • Place the ribs in the air fryer bone-side up cook at 380°F for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, pull the basket out of the air fryer and brush the ribs all over with barbecue sauce. Replace the basket in the air fryer and cook at 390°F for 5 minutes.

Notes

  • If you doubt your skills with a knife, you can usually get the butcher who sold you the ribs to trim off the membrane.
  • Let the ribs sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.
  • If you choose to forgo the mustard, pat the ribs dry so that the spice stands a better chance of sticking to the meat.
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