Air Fryer Ribs with BBQ Sauce
So many folks as us if it’s possible to make air fryer ribs. And answer is an enthusiastic yes! the texture of air fried pork ribs has the perfect “bite” and it’s so simple to make. Air frying ribs is such an amazing technique to get quick and easy bbq ribs on the table.
What is the texture of Air Fryer Ribs?
The hot air fryer circulating air cooks these ribs to a perfect tender bite, with a little dhew. The meat is not falling off the bone, as we prefer it that way. These air fried pork ribs are not overcooked, thus NOT mushy falling off the bone. But if you prefer your ribs to be falling off the bone, then air frying is not the method for you. Even if you air fried ribs for a longer time, they still will not be fall off the bone type of tender. Air frying longer will only burn and dry out the ribs.
Video: Air Fryer Ribs Recipe
Simple Salt and Pepper Seasoning for Ribs
There’s lots of different seasoning options and we’ll discuss more below. But the most basic is simply using salt and pepper. It’s not a fussy way with tons of seasoning, but it’s still delicious. Sometimes simple fresh cracked pepper and salt is all you need if you like your air fryer ribs full of pure rib flavor.
Best BBQ Rub Seasonings
Next step beyond salt and pepper is to use your favorite rub seasoning. These different types of steak seasonings or meat seasonings will really enhance the flavor of your air fried ribs.
Great BBQ Sauce Ribs
The ultimate flavor layer for ribs is using a brush on bbq sauce. Choose your favorites as different brands vary so much in level of sweet, spicy and tangy.
Sugar Free BBQ Sauce for Low Carb Keto Diet
If you’re conscious about your sugar intake, then bbq sauce generally has a good amount of sugar. But we’ve tested and tasted several brands of sugar free barbecue sauces and they’re fantastic! Here’s a few of our favorites:
Best Style of Air Fryer for Ribs?
We tested cooking ribs in two different air fryer styles and models: basket style and oven style air fryers. What’s the difference?
- Basket Style air fryers: they are generally smaller so it would be difficult to air fry a whole rack at one time even if you cut them into smaller riblets. Basket style air fryer are great if you’re looking to cook a small batch. But if you have time, then basket style air fryers still work and the results are still delicious ribs to enjoy!
- Oven Style or Toaster Style Air Fryers: these are larger which accomates more ribs. So it’s easy to cook a whole rack in these larger air fryers. Just make sure to rotate the racks between the top and bottom racks because some air fryers cook hotter at the top.
- We have great and helpful photos for you to see during cooking. All these air fryer rib photos are in the recipe box below.
Tips on How to Air Fry Ribs
- Choose your level of seasoning from simple salt and pepper to added bbq rub to another layer of brush on bbq sauce. We love all three on the ribs! That’s the ultimate flavor profile.
- If you want, you can marinate the ribs a bit in oil and a tiny bit of bbq sauce. Don’t put too much bbq sauce on the first part of cooking or else the sauce WILL burn. You don’t want the sauce to burn. Ideally, you should wait to put the bbq sauce on at the end.
- Remove the membrane on the ribs also called “silver skin”. This will help give the pork ribs a more texture during air frying.
- Make sure to baste the cooked ribs with more bbq sauce at the end. YUM!
- All air fryer ribs recipe details and photos are in the recipe box below.
Air Fryer BBQ Pork Ribs
- 3 pounds (1.36 kg) St. Louis style spare ribs rack , rinsed and patted dry *see head note
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) salt , or taste
- fresh cracked black pepper , to taste
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) rib rub seasoning , optional
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) BBQ sauce , plus more for serving
- If needed, remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs. (Carefully use a knife to loosen one edge of the membrane from the rib. Hold with a paper towel to get a less-slippery grip, and pull the membrane off.)
- Cut the ribs into sections 2 ribs wide.
- Season the ribs with salt and pepper or if using, season with optional rib rub seasoning.
- Place the ribs into the basket/tray, bone side up in a single layer.
- Air Fry at 350°F/175°C for 30 minutes, then flip the ribs to bone side down.
- Continue to Air Fry at 350°F/175°C for 10-15 more minutes or to your preferred doneness.
- Coat the ribs with BBQ sauce.
- Air Fry at 350°F/175°C for an additional 3 minutes to glaze the BBQ sauce on the ribs.
- For serving, coat with additional sauce or serve with sauce on the side.
If your air fryer is preheated or if you are cooking multiple batches, you may need to reduce timing by a few minutes (unless preheating is called for in the recipe).
Nutrition Information per Serving
Different Sauces for Basting Ribs
With all the non-bbq bottled sauces out there the possibilities are endless. But if you want something homemade, try one of our homemade sauces:
Is it necessary to remove the pork rib membrane ?
It’s worth it to spend a few minutes to remove the membrane. If not, the ribs can be touch and keeps the ribs from absorbing more of the sauce and seasonings. But if you like a chewy bite full of firmer rib meat, then leave the membrane all! It’s a personal choice on what texture you want your air fryer ribs to be like. Here’s a great article about removing rib membrane and why it matters.
Freezing and Storing Leftover Ribs
Make sure any leftover ribs are completely cool. Then wrap them in air tight plastic bags or plastic wrap. Freeze them for up to 3 months but not too much longer than that. They can get freezer burn and you don’t want to ruin all your hard work on cooking air fried ribs. Plus, these beauties are not cheap so don’t waste any food by freezing them for too long!
How to Re-heat leftover ribs
If they are frozen, allow them to thaw first. Then microwave then for about 2-3 minutes so that they can warm through. Then re-heat them in the air fryer at 350F for about 5-8 minutes, depending on how big the ribs are and how many. Start at 5 minutes, then check the ribs. Then add additional time if needed for these cooked air fryer ribs.