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Knife-and-Fork BBQ Pork Ribs

Danielle Walker's tender BBQ pork ribs and cauliflower Buffalo bites
Danielle Walker's tender BBQ pork ribs and cauliflower Buffalo bitesNathan R. Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

Each year for my husband's birthday, for the past 15 years, we visit a restaurant in San Francisco that serves his favorite fall-off-the-bone ribs. I recreated them using healthier ingredients so he could enjoy them all throughout the year. We make them for dinner all the time because they are so easy and don't require starting a fire on the grill or long hours in a smoker.

Make-ahead tip: Season the ribs 3 days in advance and store them, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator. Bake the racks 2 days in advance and keep them wrapped up. Reheat in a 300°F oven for 15 minutes, then finish under the broiler or on the grill.

Swap option: Swap in a healthy store-bought BBQ sauce.

Kitchen equipment required: 2 small bowls, sheet pan, parchment paper, spoon, basting brush, oven, cup measures, spoon Measures


  • 1⁄2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (4-pound) pork baby back rib racks
Quick Barbecue Sauce
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1⁄2 cup leftover dry rub
  • 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon natural liquid smoke



Preheat the oven to 250°F. Mix together the coconut sugar, paprika, chile powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make a dry rub. Rub 2 tablespoons of the rub on each rack, then place each rack on a large sheet of parchment paper. (Reserve the remaining rub in an airtight container at room temperature for another use.) Wrap the ribs tightly and roll up the ends of the paper to create a tightly sealed parchment paper package. Place the packages with the meat facing down on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 3 to 3½ hours, or until fork tender.


Preheat the broiler with the rack placed in the upper one-third of the oven. Make your Quick Barbecue Sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients.


Open the parchment packages and drain off any fat and liquid. Turn the ribs so the meat is facing up, brush them with some of the barbecue sauce, and finish under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned and slightly crisp on top. Serve warm with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.