These sous vide baby back ribs with a rich glaze of homemade honey-spiced BBQ sauce are tender, juicy, and ultra-tasty. No smoker or grill is required.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by KitchenBoss Global. The recipe in this article is made with KitchenBoss sous vide products, which I received for free. Like all content on this site, all opinions are mine and based on my own experiences. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase any products through those links, I’ll receive a very small percentage of commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you as always for reading and cooking with StreetSmart Kitchen.

Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce

If you visit a barbecue restaurant in the southern part of the US, walk around it. You can’t miss a giant smoker sitting at the back of the restaurant. The amazing ribs and brisket you are about to eat come straight out of that smoker. 

Even if you are lucky enough to have a smoker or an outdoor grill in your backyard to make barbecue ribs at home, getting to that perfect temperature for your desired outcome doesn’t happen every time. I get it—it’s intimidating! Those excellent barbecue ribs cooked low and slow seem like something you’d have to save for a dine-out. Am I right?

Well, as a fellow foodie, I am here to tell you to confidently include the best baby back ribs on your recipe Rolodex. Welcome to the sous vide world, where you attain that perfect cooking temperature, every single time, with a small movement of your finger. In this article, you’ll learn how to sous vide baby back ribs step by step right on your kitchen counter. We will nail the flavor with a homemade BBQ dry rub and a homemade BBQ sauce. 

Ready for some seriously tender ribs with a crispy crust and rich glaze of sauce? Let’s get to it. 

Why Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs? 

As mentioned above, really great BBQ pork ribs are probably not something you can enjoy regularly because…

  • Not everyone has a smoker or a grill at home.
  • Even if you do, it takes a lot of practice and patience to get to the right texture, not to mention you’ll have to check on and attend to the ribs during those long hours of cooking.
  • Say you’ve got years of practice making baby back ribs with a smoker or a grill—I bet the outcome still isn’t consistent every time. 

With sous vide, now you can enjoy darn good baby back ribs anytime you want because…

  1. The sous vide method provides the optimal and precise temperature control for however long you want your ribs to cook. That leads to the perfectly consistent texture you desire. 
  2. No smoker or grill is required. You just need enough counter space for a sous vide setup.
  3. What about the smoke flavor? A touch of liquid smoke fixes it just right.
Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce

Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs Time and Temperature

So what’s the exact temperature and time to cook baby back ribs sous vide? That depends on the meat texture you are looking for. The best temperature for the job is between 145°F(63°C) and 165°F (74°C). Here’s a chart for your reference. 

TemperatureTimeTexture
145°F (63°C)36 hoursMoist, juicy, tender to the tooth
149°F (65°C)24 hoursTender, moist
158°F (70°C)24 hoursFork-tender, juicy
165°F (74°C)12 hoursPull-off-the-bone, melts in your mouth, shreds easily

My favorite, if you ask me, is sous vide baby back ribs at 165°F (74°C) for 12 hours. It achieves the result that is closest to the traditional barbecue texture, so tender and meaty with well-rendered fat, which is particularly what I am after. The meat releases from the bone with just a gentle pull with a fork or a tug from your teeth, yet it remains moist and juicy. 

I know for many die-hard barbecue fans, the texture described above might be a little too tender for their liking. If you are looking for extra meaty ribs that are still tender to the tooth, try sous vide at 145°F (63°C) for 36 hours. Ribs cooked at a low temperature retain moisture as they tenderize during the slow and long cooking time. 

You’ve heard it—you can’t go wrong with sous vide. It’s true! For that reason, I’d encourage you to try different temperatures between 145°F (63°C) and 165°F (74°C) for 24 hours to really figure out which one you like the most. You just can’t mess it up! Therefore, throw your worries and anxiety out of the window and experiment away with different textures with peace of mind. 🙂


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Gear You Need

Now, let’s talk about the setup to achieve your perfect pork rib goals. 

No, you don’t need a smoker. No, you don’t need a grill. Heck, you don’t even need an oven! (I don’t have one.)You do, however, need to have a sous vide machine. Please note that you can use any sous vide product for your sous vide recipes. Here’s a rundown of what I used to make the perfect BBQ baby back ribs every single time.

A Sous Vide Precision Cooker

I’ve been using the KitchenBoss G320 Sous Vide Cooker for a while now. I have much to say about this sous vide machine, which will probably lead me to write a full-on review post at some point. Here are a couple of key points that I like about making this particular recipe. 

  • The KitchenBoss G320 Sous Vide Cooker comes with 20 built-in recipes (preset temp and time for each one) displayed on a color TFT screen along with a stunning recipe book. You can also set your own temperature and time and save it for future use. I have made my lion’s share of baby back ribs, so I preset 165°F and saved it as a style. All I need to do when ready to cook is to turn the little knob until the preset style displays on the screen, then hit start. Pretty convenient. 
  • Boy, this machine is so freaking quiet compared to other sous vide machines I have used. I left it on a small kitchen island in a corner of my living room (my kitchen is too tiny for the island) to work its magic on my ribs for 12 hours. I could hardly hear anything. It’s so quiet that I couldn’t help checking a few times to see if it was actually on. It was working the entire time. 
Preheat water with KitchenBoss G320 Sous Vide Cooker

A Vacuum Sealer and Vacuum Sealer Bags

Is a vacuum sealer absolutely required to make baby back ribs sous vide? No, you could use the water displacement method with a heavy-duty freezer bag, or two to double it up. However, a vacuum sealer is the only way to guarantee fantastic results. Why?

  1. It ensures that air is sucked out of your bags entirely and effectively.
  2. You don’t have to worry about your bags breaking during the long hours of cooking at a high temperature because vacuum sealer bags are designed for that. 
  3. Properly sealed ribs can be stored in the fridge or freezer prior to cooking. Cooked ribs, still in their unopened sealer bag, can be stored in the fridge for five days without losing any freshness. It’s great for weekly meal planning.

The KitchenBoss G210 Vacuum Sealer with a very competitive price gets the job done well! 

Baby back ribs vacuum sealed with KitchenBoss G210 Vacuum Sealer

A Large Pot

If you have a sous vide container, by all means, use it. If not, a large soup pot is sufficient.

A Heavy-Duty Skillet

You can finish your ribs in the oven or on the grill after sous vide cooking. But if you don’t feel like heating up the big guns in your kitchen, a heavy-duty skillet such as a cast-iron skillet for a quick sear on the stove is a great option. In my case, that’s my only option due to the lack of an oven. 

For finishing in the oven under the broiler or by grilling, J. Kenji López-Alt provides detailed instructions in his article about sous vide pork ribs on Serious Eats.


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Homemade BBQ Spice Rub and Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce

Nothing is better than homemade. So for this recipe, I am going to introduce my go-to BBQ spice rub and BBQ sauce to you. They work particularly well for pork ribs, or even pork chops. I have also tried the combination on chicken and liked how it tasted. 

For the BBQ spice rub, you’ll need smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, and freshly ground black pepper. Take a look at your pantry to see if you need to stock up on some essential spices. 

Homemade BBQ Spice Rub and Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce

Many people include molasses and brown sugar in their barbecue sauce recipes. I don’t know about you, but molasses is not an ingredient I use often, and I tend to cut down on refined sugar in my cooking as much as I can. So I have come up with my own substitutes. The StreetSmart version of the BBQ sauce calls for ketchup, apple cider vinegar, dark soy sauce, water or cooking juice, honey, mustard powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

How to Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs Step by Step

Alrighty, now you’ve got your sous vide set up and ingredients ready. Let’s rock and roll. 

Step 1: Prepare your baby back ribs.

How to Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs Step 1: Prepare your baby back ribs.

Lay your baby back ribs on a large cutting board, meat side down. Starting from the tip end of the ribs, remove the thin, papery membrane on the back by gripping it and pulling it away in one piece. Divide a full rack of baby back ribs into three or four portions by cutting through the meat in between the ribs. Rub all sides of the ribs generously with the homemade BBQ spice rub.

Step 2: Bag it up and vacuum seal.

How to Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs Step 2: Bag it up and vacuum seal.

Prepare a few vacuum sealer bags by folding over the top so the rub or pork juice don’t touch the edges of the bags, which will affect a proper seal. Place the ribs in vacuum sealer bags or reusable sous vide bags. Add 4 drops of liquid smoke (if using) in each bag, unfold the tops, and vacuum seal. Leave the vacuum-sealed ribs in the fridge to marinate for a few hours, ideally overnight. 

Step 3: Cook sous vide.

ow to Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs Step 3: Cook sous vide

When ready to cook, set your sous vide precision cooker to 165°F (74°C) or other desired temperature according to the temp and time chart above. Once the water bath is ready, drop the rib bags in the water and cover the container with plastic wrap, a lid, aluminum foil, or ping pong balls to prevent water evaporation. Set the timer for 12 hours if cooking at 165°F (74°C). Again, refer to the temp and time chart mentioned earlier for the right amount of time at a different temperature. 

Step 4: Chill the ribs rapidly.

Prepare an ice-water bath in a large pot and transfer the cooked ribs into it to cool quickly. You may store the ribs in the fridge for up to five days and finish them at a later time. Make sure to leave the ribs in their bags, unopened. 

Step 5: Finish the ribs on the stove.

How to Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs Step 5: Finish the ribs on the stove.

Remove ribs from the bags and place the ribs on a cutting board. Dry them well with paper towels. Heat up a heavy-duty skillet or a cast-iron skillet until very hot. Add some oil, and working in batches, place the ribs meat side down in the skillet. Press them down to get the entire meat-side against the bottom of the hot skillet for about a minute until crusty. Transfer the ribs back to the cutting board. Brush liberally with the homemade BBQ sauce. Cut them up and enjoy!

Next time you host a dinner party, be sure to make these best sous vide BBQ ribs to impress your guests. Remember that you can make them and the BBQ sauce ahead of time and just finish them on the day of. 

For your own weekday dinner, pair the ribs with some mashed potatoes and green peas. Drizzle with additional sauce if you want. So good! 

BBQ Baby Back Ribs with Mashed Potatoes and Green Peas
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​​Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce Recipe

These sous vide baby back ribs with a rich glaze of homemade honey-spiced BBQ sauce are tender, juicy, and ultra-tasty. No smoker or grill is required.

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 12 hours
  • Total Time: 24 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Meat
  • Method: Sous Vide
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 whole racks of baby back ribs (about 3.5 pounds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

    For the BBQ spice rub:

  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    For the honey-spiced BBQ sauce:

  • 1/2 cup water, reserved meat cooking juice, or broth
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix all BBQ spice rub ingredients together, and set aside. 

Notes

 

  • You can use other types of pork ribs for this recipe, such as spare ribs or St. Louis-style ribs.
  • The honey-spiced BBQ sauce recipe yields 2 cups. It can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to four weeks. It’s not included in the nutrition facts calculation. 
  • If you want to make only one rack of baby back ribs, save half of the spice rub in a small jar for next time.
  • This recipe is adapted from Complete Sous Vide Cookbook: 150+ Recipes for Perfect Meat, Seafood, Vegetables, and More written by yours truly.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 619
  • Sugar: 0.6g
  • Sodium: 858.58m
  • Fat: 44g
  • Saturated Fat: 15.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.6g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Protein: 51.8g
  • Cholesterol: 184mg

Free Bundle


All YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT 

SOUS VIDE COOKING 

Get instant access to my Complete Guide to Sous Vide Cooking (backed by science) for beginners and enthusiasts, plus two sous vide time & temperature sheets for quick and easy reference. All free.

​​Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce​​Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce​​Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce​​Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce

4 thoughts on “​​Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs with Honey-Spiced BBQ Sauce”

  1. Okay, I’m pulling out my sous vide right now! I rarely use mine but these ribs look too good not to try. Thank you for all the tips and tricks. This recipe will definitely help make it easier to make them.

  2. Wow, I’ve never tried cooking sous-vide but you’ve definitely persuaded me to try it… just gorgeous!

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