Sheet Pan

Baby Back Ribs With Magic Spice Blend

July  1, 2018
22 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 3 to 4
Author Notes

These ribs aren't going to look and taste like the sticky, saucy, lacquered ribs of Southern yore—they're a bit cleaner in taste. As you've basically steamed them in their own juices, they'll be fall-off-the-bone succulent, and in this you may find a new appreciation for the flavor of pork as it should be: not drowned in a saccharine BBQ sauce, but rather powdered with a smoky-sweet, savory invisibility cloak that lets the meat be meat. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: My Lip-Smacking BBQ Ribs & the Secret Spice Blend That Makes Them Sing. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds pork baby back ribs
  • 4 tablespoons Magic Spice Blend, recipe follows
  • Magic Spice Blend
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika (you can use regular sweet paprika if you don't like the taste of smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed, crushed in the palm of your hand
  1. Preheat the oven to 250° F. Season the ribs on both sides, generously, with the Magic Spice Blend.
  2. Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil (I always use heavy-duty), place on a sheet pan flesh-side down, and bake for 3 hours. I like to eat this with white rice.
  1. Magic Spice Blend
  2. Spoon all of the ingredients into a Mason jar and shake.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Stan
  • Kelly Elizabeth
    Kelly Elizabeth
  • Ally
  • Janet Martin
    Janet Martin
  • Melissa Y
    Melissa Y
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

17 Reviews

Stan July 9, 2022
Great ribs.
Here's something that I just discovered. After the 3 hours at 250 I froze all the fatty juices from the aluminum packet. An hour later I skimmed the fat on top and was left with intensely flavored rib jus with no fat. I then added this to some homemade barbeque sauce and used the enhanced basic barbeque sauce as a dip or for pulled pork sandwiches later in the week.
Alison September 8, 2020
This was delicious--I had intended to grill the ribs, but atmospheric conditions weren't cooperating and I needed an alternative approach. I am amazed at how simple this is, given the great results. I made as directed, other than to take the lazy way out and use ground celery seed. Thanks for another great meal, Eric! Also nice to have the extra magic spice rub for another dish...
Kelly E. May 27, 2020
I made the recipe exactly as indicated. The only thing magic about the spice blend was that it combined amazingly with coleslaw. Without the coleslaw, these ribs were thoroughly meh.
Catherine M. May 15, 2020
This dish was absolutely AMAZING!!!!!! My husband couldn’t believe how good it was!!!!! Food 52 and chefs, you NEVER let us down!!!!
Ally May 9, 2020
I’ve pretty much told everyone I know about this recipe. It’s ridiculously easy and so good!!
Evan H. March 2, 2019
I made the spice mixture for this to rub on some deer tenderloin, and it is simply DIVINE. In the jar it smells a little pungent due to the smoked paprika (my mother wanted me to use sweet paprika but I insisted), but it adds a wonderful savory quality that just can't be beat. I will definitely be keeping a jar of this spice around for any meats I want to prepare.
Erika September 21, 2018
I made this recipe twice now for my guests. Everyone absolutely loved it! :)
Eric K. September 22, 2018
Yay. Glad to hear.
Janet M. July 6, 2018
Be careful when buying ribs to remember that most of what you pick up in the supermarket is injected with salt--you may have to look hard for any that are not. We like to use a rub and smoke ribs for 6-8 hours, and have had to adjust our rubs to exclude salt. It takes me back to my childhood when my mother parboiled ribs to remove excess fat, and that also works to reduce salt. I actually like my ribs "dry" (well not dried out, but not drowned with sauce) with sauce on the side, and this rub recipe looks perfect for so very many things. Thanks for the recipe and the tips
Melissa Y. July 5, 2018
This is by far the easiest way to cook ribs; I will never go to the trouble of doing it any other way again. We "finished" them on the charcoal grill to give them a hint of smoke and they were perfect. So easy!
Eric K. July 5, 2018
susielou July 5, 2018
The other day, I made a spice rub (without a recipe) for flank steak. None of the ingredients were measured; I just added them until the proportions looked right. My rub: brown sugar, kosher salt, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, Aleppo pepper, garlic powder. I scored both sides of the steak, then lightly coated both sides with extra virgin olive oil. Finally, I mixed a small amount of cider vinegar with the spices, and rubbed the mixture on both sides of the steak. The meat was grilled, and incredibly tasty. The next day I saw your recipe for the magic spice mix, and it looked very familiar! You've inspired me to make a jar of the spice mix and keep it next to the olive oil. Thank you.
Eric K. July 5, 2018
That's the beauty of Magic Spice, huh? You've already had it before, probably in the womb. It's familiar and comforting, and tastes good on everything. :) Thanks for the comment, susielou.
alsd2 July 4, 2018
Made these ribs for the 4th of July--perfect for those of us without anywhere to grill! Super, super easy and the ribs were exactly as promised--juicy, tender, and full of meaty flavor. I still dabbed them with some molasses-tinged Memphis-style BBQ sauce, but the ribs were already so tasty they needed far less than I'd normally use. With this secret weapon in my recipe arsenal, I don't think I'll ever make less than two racks of ribs at a time!
Eric K. July 5, 2018
Makes me so happy to hear. Thanks for sharing!
SumG July 2, 2018
I just posted on other magic spice blend article that I use the same blend + addition of chili powder. Also, I make it in the instant pot now (used to do oven baked before, and BBQ grill before that) - using this recipe
Eric K. July 3, 2018
Sounds delicious!