Air fryer BBQ ribs make a quick dinner for those evenings you get back late and don’t have the energy for a complicated supper. The best dry rib rub adds plenty of amazing flavour to pork or beef ribs, and air frying ribs is so much speedier than oven-roasting them. So fire up your air fryer and get ready to indulge in some seriously delicious ribs!
Spice up your dinner game with this delicious recipe for air fryer BBQ pork ribs coated in a tantalizing dry rub! This dry rub adds layers of delicious flavour to the tender beef or pork ribs. And when you air fry, you they are crispy on the outside and fall-off-the-bone tender on the inside.
Air Fried Ribs Ingredients
Three pounds of ribs is a good amount if you’re serving four people. This might sound a lot but remember most of that weight is going to be bone. Even if you’re only cooking for two, I’d still use the full amount because you can store and reheat these.
Either pork or beef ribs pair are good to use here. Baby back ribs work really well with this easy air fryer ribs recipe. Spare ribs will take a bit longer since they are meatier. Whichever you choose, remove the membrane from the bone side before you start. I usually put the meat in the sink and peel up a corner of the membrane and it comes right off.
You might want to use some paper towels to help you grip the slippery membrane. If you don’t remove it before making air fryer dry rub ribs then you’ll have to peel it off every rib afterwards.
Difference Between Short Ribs, Baby Back Ribs and Spare Ribs
Short ribs, baby back ribs, and spare ribs are all cuts of meat from different sections of the rib cage. Wondering how to tell the difference? Well, this should help!
- Short ribs: Short ribs are cut from the lower portion of the rib cage, near the belly. They have meat on top of the bone and are usually sold in thick, rectangular shaped pieces. Short ribs are a tougher cut of meat and are often cooked low and slow to break down the connective tissue and make them tender.
- Baby back ribs: Baby back ribs are cut from the upper portion of the ribcage, near the spine. They are shorter and smaller than spare ribs and have meat between the bones and on top of them. Baby back ribs are a leaner cut of meat than spare ribs and are often considered more tender and flavourful, too. They are typically cooked faster than spare ribs.
- Spare ribs: Spare ribs come from the belly area and are larger and flatter than baby back ribs. They have meat between the bones and on top of them, and they also have a higher fat content than baby back ribs. Spare ribs are usually less expensive than baby back ribs and are often cooked low and slow to make them tender. They are often meatier than baby back ribs and are a popular choice for barbecuing.
All ribs are delicious and the differences come down to the location of the cut, and the amount of meat and fat.
How to Make the Best Dry Rib Rub
I love using a dry rub when making air fryer BBQ ribs. You can add so much flavour this way. The air fryer ribs dry rub is a tasty combination of sugar, paprika, garlic onion, cumin, vinegar, and oil. Add some salt and black pepper as well as some liquid smoke. OK so the vinegar and liquid smoke make it slightly less ‘dry’ and more paste-like, but don’t worry. It’s still the best dry rib rub for making this quick dinner. It’s a rub rather than a marinade so you don’t need to leave it to soak in like you would with a liquid marinade.
How to Cook Ribs in the Air Fryer
Once you’ve coated pork or beef ribs in the best dry rib rub it’s time to get cooking! Pop the dry rub ribs in the air fryer. You’ll want to have a grill insert in the bottom. If you cook ribs in an air fryer they should take 15 to 20 minutes to cook through. The exact time depends on different factors such as the type of ribs you’re using, your air fryer and how thick the ribs are.
My air fryer is quite large but I can still only cook one rack at a time in there even if I cut it into three pieces, so this is a recipe to make in 2 batches. You can always keep the cooked rack warm while cooking the next batch in the air fryer basket.
I like to brush BBQ sauce over the air fryer dry rub ribs then cook for another few minutes. This sets the sauce a little. You can use literally any type of BBQ sauce here – sweet, smoky, spicy, or whatever you prefer. You can also omit the BBQ sauce if you only want the rub. It’s totally your call.
What to Serve with Air Fryer BBQ Ribs
I like this quick dinner with simple sides. Consider mashed potatoes or polenta fries. Perhaps add some steamed broccoli, sautéed cabbage or asparagus. Salad is always good with ribs too, so take your pick. If you want, you can serve additional BBQ sauce on the side, although the ribs will be juicy and moist without it.
I love making pork or beef ribs using the air fryer. I’ve also slow-cooked ribs in the oven for hours and they are fall off the bone tender instead. The dry heat of an air fryer, as well as how well the hot air circulates in there, ensures these ribs will cook evenly and fast.
The Temperature Ribs Should Be
Interestingly, ribs are fully cooked and safe to serve when they reach 145 degrees F. However, this doesn’t make them falling-off-the-bone juicy! For that the internal temperature should be at least 190 degrees F or anywhere up to 205 degrees F.
You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature or else just use a fork and you will see whether the meat is coming off the bone or not. Whether you choose to pair your air fryer pork ribs with coleslaw and mashed potatoes, a tomato salad, potato salad or something else, knowing how to cook BBQ ribs in an air fryer means you can rustle up this quick dinner whenever you want. Like other air fryer recipes, it makes an easy meal for busy weeknight.
Air Fryer Ribs FAQs
Store any leftover ribs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The ribs can be reheated in the microwave or in the air fryer on the reheat setting.
Not only can you cook ribs in an air fryer but you can trim the carb count right down. First swap the brown sugar in the recipe for Truvia Brown or your preferred keto sweetener. Also use sugar-free BBQ sauce rather than the regular sugary kind. The G Hughes brand has a good one with 1 or 2 carbs a serving.
It is not absolutely necessary to remove the membrane, but I recommend it.
The bone side of the ribs should be facing up for the first 8 to 10 minutes. Then for the last half, you flip the ribs over and cook them with the bone side down. This allows for even cooking.
No, you don’t need to cover the ribs or put any parchment paper underneath them. The air fryer circulates air around the food in order to cook it evenly.
Air Fryer BBQ Ribs Recipe
Air Fryer BBQ Ribs Made with the Best Dry Rib Rub
- In a small bowl mix the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke and olive oil. Spread it evenly over the entire rack of ribs.
- Make sure the rack is in the bottom of the air fryer pot. Place one rack of ribs flat on the rack and put in the air fryer.
- Turn air fryer to 360 degrees F and cook one side for 8 minutes. Flip the ribs and cook an additional 8 minutes. Check for doneness near a bone. If the meat isn’t completely cooked through, cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Brush the cooked ribs with BQ sauce. You can cook for another minute.
- Remove and cook the second rack of ribs.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Let me know if you try this easy air fryer ribs recipe. It has the best dry rib rub and this recipe will become one that you make again and again! It is a tasty quick dinner that everyone loves. The biggest benefit of cooking ribs in the air fryer is that they cook faster than traditional low and slow methods such as baking, slow cooking, grilling and even smoking.
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Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.