How To Make Oven-Baked Pork Riblets BBQ

August 26, 2022

Asian cuisine lovers swear by it. As a pork griller, I can testify to how flavorsome this part of the rib can be. Delicious and inexpensive, pork riblets are small pieces of pork cut from the ribs. They are leaner than the whole rib but are still meaty pieces with great flavor. I prefer it with a BBQ sauce mixture, whether it's precooked in a saucepan or directly baked.

In this detailed article, I will explain what pork riblets and other cuts are. Then I will tell you just how to make easy riblets for a perfect barbecue, what cooking methods and sauce are used for the recipes, and much more. 

Pork Riblets

How To Make Baked Barbecue Pork Riblets?

In this section, you'll find a baked barbecue pork riblets recipe. Included are pork and sauce ingredients, tools needed, and the step-by-step instructions for making easy riblets. (Serves 4).

Meat Grilled On Top of Hot Skillet Pan

Ingredients 

For The Meat 

  • 4-5 pounds of pork riblets 
  • 1-2 tsp liquid smoke 
  • 60g of Dijon mustard 
  • 1 cup of dry spices 
  • 1 cup (about 300g) soy sauce 

Dry Spice For Rubbing 

  • 4 teaspoons of garlic powder 
  • 2 teaspoons of powdered onion 
  • 4 teaspoons of paprika powder 
  • 4 teaspoons of salt 
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons of chili or cayenne powder (optional) 

Tools You Need 

  • Wire rack 
  • Baking sheet 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Measuring cups  
  • Measuring spoons 
  • A small bowl 
  • Spoon 
  • A knife  
  • A cutting board 

Instructions 

  1. Get a 4-5 pounds pack of pork riblet cuts. Alternatively, you can have the butcher cut the spare ribs into individual ribs. 
  2. Place a rimmed baking sheet and a foil on top of your wire rack. Using a rimmed baking sheet is essential, so the juices don't spill. 
  3. First, the riblet cuts are trimmed, and excess fat is removed. The silver skin is also removed in the process.  
  4. Then place the riblet cuts on the prepared baking sheet on the wire rack, one by one, with the fleshy side facing up. Discard the flesh membrane pulled from the riblets. Then it’s time to season the riblet cuts. 
  5. Add 1-2 tsp liquid smoke and 60 grams of Dijon mustard to a small bowl. Then stir the whole mixture. Next, dip a grill brush into the mixture. Spread it on each side of the riblets. 
  6. Then rub the riblets with the dry seasoning mix. You can purchase soy sauce or make a homemade BBQ sauce. Put 1 cup (about 300g) of soy sauce in a bowl. Then sprinkle evenly on each side of the riblets for up to 24 hours before cooking. Store in an airtight container inside the fridge before cooking. 
  7. Turn on the broiler and heat for a few minutes before placing the riblets about three inches below the oven’s broiler heating element. Heat to start bubbling the sugar out of the barbecue marinade and brown the riblets. 
  8. Bake the riblet cuts at 300º Fahrenheit (150º Celsius) for 1 to 1.5 hours baking time.  
  9. If you like riblets with lots of sauce, make a bowl of delicious sauce. Then brush it on the pork and cover them with foil.
  10. After adding the sauce and the riblets are covered, let them bake. To know if they are done cooking, insert your knife into a thick part of the meat. Your knife should insert easily when the meat is well baked. If not, bake for 15 minutes more and check again. Remove the finished riblets from the oven. Don't serve immediately. Let them sit, covered, for up to 10 minutes. Then place them on a serving platter.  
Pork Meat In A Bowl

Tips 

Another much faster way to prepare riblets in the oven is to cook them before baking. Those who have little patience can reduce the cooking time by cooking the riblets in a roasting pan or crock pot with a liquid sauce such as beer sauce, juice sauce, or your favorite sauce for about 1 hour cooking time until it's soft.

Then finish it in the oven at 350 °F for 20 - 30 minutes. This way, they are crispy on the outside but tender as butter when bitten into. This is a good alternative, especially if you don't have time.

However, it must be noted that a good part of the taste is lost during cooking. But if you don't skimp on the sauce and other flavor ingredients, they should be fine.

What Are Pork Riblets? 

Pork riblets are individual cuts of pork ribs. They are smaller pieces cut from a full rack. Pork riblets are baby back ribs cut halfway through the rib bones. When slowly baked, they fall off the bone quite easily and are a delight.  

However, due to the part of the animal, they're taken from, pork riblets have a lot of bad press. Many believe that it is fatty and tasteless. I think that's because they got the wrong riblet cuts, or they've been getting the recipe wrong!

If you're too worried about the time and skill required to bake riblet cuts, you can slow cook riblets in the oven over low to medium heat. Most riblets served in restaurants or at home are first boiled in water and then baked and grilled in an oven or barbecue.

This cooking method allows even the toughest pork to tenderize. However, I found out that the taste is altered because it had boiled. So, I don't recommend using this cooking method. After all, everything nice and delicious takes time!

What Is The Difference Between Ribs and Riblets? 

For those who still don't know the differences between ribs and pork riblets, pork ribs are, of course, meat separated by several bones, more precisely, the rib cage. Riblets, meanwhile, are smaller cuts of the ribs. 

Riblets are cut through the rib but half lengthwise through the bone. Like full ribs, riblets have bones, but they are taken from the ends of the ribs where the bones are curved. 

What Types of Rib Cuts Are There? 

Some ribs are more curved; others are wider. Others have little flesh between the bones, while the other ribs have more flesh. So are these all the same ribs? No, is the correct answer as there are different sections or cuts. 

Spare Pork Ribs 

The most well-known ribs are the spare ribs. They are offered in many restaurants and snack bars. They are often available as an All you can eat or ribs full variant. So you can eat as many spareribs as you want. 

The classic ribs are pretty wide but have almost no bone bend. The meat sits between the relatively widely spaced bones but not as a thick layer on top. 

These are cut from the belly part of the rib cage. The pork ribs start at the back and go down to the belly. At the end of the costal arch, there is a cartilaginous part. The curve of the meat in the abdomen is not as pronounced as in the back, the individual bones are farthest apart, and the meat is very fatty. Strictly speaking, these ribs are always sold and prepared together with the cartilage. 

St. Louis Cut 

It is common to cut off the gristly end of the ribs before selling and preparing them. So it is probably familiar to everyone from the restaurant. Strictly speaking, this cut is then called the St. Louis Cut. As they're simply ribs that have been trimmed, this cut is uniform in shape, so it's easier to work with. 

Baby Back Rib 

The Baby Back Rib was adopted from the USA. While the whole rib contains fatty meat, baby back ribs are very lean. The latter tend to dry out very quickly if they are prepared incorrectly. 

Pork Spare Ribs and French Fries

FAQs 

What Are Riblets Made Out Of? 

Pork riblets come from the ribs of pork. They are smaller individual cuts of the ribs cut lengthwise from a full rack. They are common in the Asian market.  

Are Riblets Good? 

Riblets are an excellent option for those looking for cheaper-priced pork. They are not the best quality compared to the thicker chunks of flesh in the main ribs. Riblets are derived from trimmings, but they are smaller than rib tips. But they are pretty delicious and fall off the bone easily after they're baked. For every 100 grams, pork riblets have 242 nutrition calories.  

How Do You Make A Homemade BBQ Sauce? 

Instead of the typical Worcestershire sauce sold online, you can make a homemade soy sauce. You'll need water, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic powder, and more. Combine, mix and stir these ingredients at appropriate proportions. Heat the mixture in a saucepan for 2 minutes.  

Final Words 

Pork riblets are small cuts of ribs taken from the full rack. BBQ pork riblets can also be prepared in the oven. They are sometimes prepared this way in most restaurants. But it is also an option for home preparations if the weather is not correct or you do not have a suitable grill. You can prepare as on the smoker, i.e., adapt the temperatures. 

The biggest hurdle is getting smoke flavor into the meat. I strongly advise against lighting wood chips in the oven; it will not do well. Your house/apartment is probably essential to you. Joking aside, never light the smoking wood in the oven!

The only good possibility consists of so-called liquid smoke. This is a liquid smoke concentrate, which is best mixed with the BBQ sauce. You should dose carefully and taste again and again. Usually, 2-3 drops are enough. You then use the sauce to glaze the riblets. 

 If you're too worried about the time and skill required to cook, you can get pork riblets. Boil and bake them in the oven over low heat. Once they are tender, brush the pork riblets with barbecue sauce and place them under the oven for a few minutes to give them a rich brown color. That's how to make easy riblets, and I hope you can try it!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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