How to Cook Pork Riblets in the Oven With a Rub

How to Cook Pork Riblets in the Oven With a Rub (Image: larik_malasha/iStock/GettyImages)

Are you craving pork riblets in the middle of winter, or maybe your grill is just out of commission right now? Cooking pork riblets in the oven is an easy way to cook the flavorful bits of meat for your family meals or as appetizers for parties. Seasoning the pork properly and cooking it so it stays moist are key to the process.

What Are Pork Riblets?

Riblets come from full-length rib slabs. They're cut to about half the normal size, usually about 2 to 4 inches long. Sometimes, this is done to get rid of the curve on baby-back ribs so the slab looks flatter.

Riblets taste great with dry rubs or barbecue sauces, making them a versatile option as appetizers or main-course dishes. Since they come from the full slab of ribs, they taste the same. It's a mild flavor that easily takes on the seasonings you use.

You can cook pork riblets in a slow cooker, on the grill or in the oven. They're best when cooked slowly at low heat. Cooking riblets in the oven gives you steady control over the temperature so you can achieve the slow-cooking process.

Prepping Pork Riblets

Fresh pork riblets last in the refrigerator for about three days. If you need to store them longer before preparing them, wrap them well and put them in the freezer.

If you're using frozen riblets for your BBQ pork riblets recipe, give them plenty of time to thaw first. Fridge thawing is the safest method because you keep the pork out of the danger zone between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit where bacteria multiply quickly. You can also put the riblets inside a sealed bag and place it in cold water for quicker thawing.

Line the baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray it with cooking spray to keep the riblets from sticking. Place the thawed riblets on the foil.

Making the Rub

You can buy a variety of pork rubs at the store. You can make the best pork riblet recipes with the premade rubs for quick prep. Look at the ingredients list and check out the flavor profiles to find one that matches your preferences.

Make your own rib rub if you want more control over the ingredients. You can add any dry seasonings to get the flavors you like. Some possible ingredients include:

  • Brown sugar
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Celery salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ground mustard
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin

Experiment with different flavor combinations. Add about 1 tablespoon of ingredients that you want to be more prominent, like brown sugar for a sweet rub or garlic powder. Add 1 teaspoon of the ingredients you want to use to complement those main flavors.

Applying the Rub

Sprinkle a generous amount of rub over all of the riblets. Flip them over and apply the rub to the other side. Let the ribs stand at least 30 minutes to let them absorb the flavors of the rub. You can also cover the pan with foil and keep it in the fridge for several hours or overnight before cooking.

Cooking Pork Riblets in the Oven

Slide the pan of riblets into an oven heated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook them for about an hour. You don't want to overcook them, but you want them cooked through. Cook your riblets to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure food safety.

Serving the Pork

You can serve the ribs as is with just the rub or finish them off with barbecue sauce. If you want to sauce the riblets, brush on your chosen sauce or glaze. Bump up the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the riblets for another 15 minutes or until they get a delicious crust to your liking.

You can also move the riblets to the grill to add the barbecue sauce for a nice char. Grill them just until the sauce gets thick and you get the amount of char you want.

Let the riblets rest for at least three minutes after cooking. Serve them on their own as an appetizer or with other sides as a main dish.

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