The Most Delicious Air Fryer Ribs

Grey circle with the letters GFA grey circle with KF
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Calories
357

These tender and juicy Air Fryer Ribs taste as though they came right off the BBQ. A homemade seasoning rub is used before they become perfectly charred in the air fryer. Then they’re slathered in tasty barbecue sauce!

Juicy Air Fryer Ribs

Living in the south, you have to be well-versed in good BBQ. There’s no way around it! Fortunately, I’ve learned to embrace this part of our food culture and have worked on some really great BBQ recipes like my Baby Back Ribs and Instant Pot Ribs.

We love a good BBQ, but sometimes it’s not easy or ideal to heat up the grill. So, I’ve come up with this easy and quick Air Fryer Ribs recipe. I promise that they taste like they are straight off the grill! The hot air in the air fryer circulates around the ribs, charring them perfectly. They don’t dry out and the meat falls right off the bone.

A good BBQ meal usually is the result of the right seasonings and, of course, a tasty sauce! I use a homemade spice rub that’s a little sweet and salty for these ribs. For the sauce, I highly recommend using my Homemade BBQ Sauce. But you can also use your favorite sauce from the store, too.

a close up of cooked BBQ ribs

Why Use the Air Fryer?

Ah, the air fryer…it seems like the perfect kitchen appliance doesn’t it?! I won’t argue. The air fryer is a great cooking tool for so many things, ribs included. When you cook pork ribs in the air fryer a lot of (good) things can happen:

  • The moisture stays in the meat. Because the cooking space is so small, the meat won’t dry out and all of that moisture that makes the ribs so tender stays right in the meat.
  • The air circulates around the ribs, creating the perfect char. Hot air is constantly moving around the ribs so they char and cook evenly.
  • No gas grill is needed. There’s no need to go outside and heat up the grill. Simply break out the air fryer and put it on your counter!
  • It’s so quick! Because the air is moving so fast and in a small space, the ribs cook much quicker in the air fryer. It’s like a mini convection oven!
a close up of cooked BBQ ribs

Why You’ll Love This Ribs Recipe

Here is why you’re going to love this air fryer recipe. It will quickly become one of your favorite at-home BBQ choices!

  • Not a lot of ingredients. You really only need the ribs, the spice rub, and the BBQ sauce. That’s it!
  • Dinner can be ready in an hour. The total prep and cooking time is less than 60 minutes. This is a great quick dinner idea.
  • The sweet and spicy homemade rub. Adding a touch of cinnamon to the spice rub brings a little earthy sweetness to the rub. It’s amazing. You’re going to love it.
  • Make it anytime and anywhere! This BBQ recipe isn’t dependent on a sunny day. You can make it all year round and make it anywhere. No grill required.
a close up of cooked BBQ ribs

What You’ll Need

Here’s the list of ingredients that you need to make this recipe. Remember to check out the recipe card for the exact amounts for the spice rub!

For the Spice Rub

  • Garlic Powder: You could also use granulated garlic instead.
  • Paprika: Smoked paprika would also be delicious to try and would add a smokey flavor to the ribs.
  • Chili Powder: You can use more or less depending on the chili flavor you’d like.
  • Cinnamon: Adding cinnamon adds a distinct but “barely there” earthy sweetness to the dish. I highly recommend adding it to the spice rub.
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the Ribs

  • Baby Back Ribs: Baby back ribs have a lot of lean meat, which makes them great for this recipe. They cook quickly without drying out.
  • BBQ Sauce: Use my Homemade BBQ Sauce or your favorite kind!
Baby Back BBQ Ribs next to a BBQ brush and side of sauce

How to Make Air Fryer Ribs

Here’s how to make these finger-licking good ribs!

To prep the ribs you’ll want to remove the membrane. Why do we do this? This ensures that the ribs are tender and cut apart easily. It also allows for the meat to cook evenly.

Then you’ll make the spice rub. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl.

Next, rub the spice rub all over the ribs. After that, preheat the air fryer for a few minutes so that it’s nice and hot for the ribs. . Also, don’t forget to cut the ribs into quarters so that they fit into the air fryer!

Cook the ribs in the air fryer. The ribs should start meat side down. And you’ll want to flip them about halfway through to ensure that they are evenly cooked.

Lastly, add the sauce. After about 35 minutes, you’ll want to slather some sauce over the ribs. Then cook them for another 5 minutes.

Repeat as needed! Remember that with air fryers it’s important to work in batches and not overcrowd the basket. So, repeat this process as needed until the ribs are cooked.

a close up of cooked BBQ ribs

Tips for Success

Here are a few things to keep in mind when cooking pork ribs in the air fryer.

  • For easy cleanup, spray the air fryer basket with a little non-stick spray. Depending on if you have a non-stick basket or not, it might be a good idea to spray the basket lightly with non-stick spray to avoid a sticky BBQ mess.
  • Let the ribs sit at room temperature before cooking. To reduce longer cooking times, you will want to let the ribs sit out on the counter for 10-15 minutes before you begin the recipe.
  • Don’t layer the ribs. Always make sure that they are laying flat in the air fryer so they cook evenly.

Common Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about using the air fryer to cook BBQ ribs.

Do ribs get tender in the air fryer?

They sure do! That’s why I love using the air fryer to cook BBQ ribs. They don’t dry out and cook up perfectly in the air fryer.

How long does it take ribs to cook in an air fryer?

The ribs shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to cook in the air fryer. Of course, that can change depending on the size of the ribs and whether or not they are chilled when they go into the air fryer. You can always check on the ribs during the cooking process to ensure that they are cooking correctly.

Should I wrap ribs in foil in the air fryer?

I don’t recommend using foil for this recipe. Why? Because the ribs will not get that grill-like char on the outside if you wrap them in foil.

However, there is a time when you should use foil. I suggest putting the foil on the ribs after they have developed the char on the outside but have NOT completely cooked on the inside. This will allow the ribs to finish cooking, but not burn the outside of the ribs.

What Goes with Air Fryer Ribs?

My favorite part – the side dishes! I love a good well-rounded BBQ feast! Here are some of my favorite sides to go with BBQ ribs.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

You can store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can reheat the ribs by using the air fryer again.

I again suggest letting the ribs come to room temperature before cooking again. They will cook quicker this way without burning.

Can I Freeze Ribs?

You could freeze these ribs, but I recommend eating them fresh for the best flavor. One option that you could do is simply prep the baby back ribs ahead of time (cutting them into quarters and removing the membrane) and freeze them like that.

That way, when you’re ready for a quick BBQ meal, you can pull them out of the freezer and some of the steps have already been done!

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a close up of cooked BBQ ribs

The Most Delicious Air Fryer Ribs

  • Author: Krista
  • prep_time Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • cook_time Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • total_time Total Time: 55 minutes
  • yield Yield: 4-6 1x
  • category Category: Pork
  • method Method: Air Fryer
  • cuisine Cuisine: American

Description

These Air Fryer Ribs taste like they’re right off the BBQ. The ribs are tender and perfectly seasoned with a homemade spice rub and sauce.

Scale

Ingredients

Baby Back Ribs

  • 2 full racks of baby back ribs, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup you favorite BBQ sauce (or my Homemade BBQ Sauce)

Spice Rub Blend:

  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Prep Ribs: Remove the membrane from the bottom side of the ribs. Starting on one side, gently slide a knife under the membrane and pull it off just a little bit. Once you have enough membrane to hold on to you should just be able to pull it all off in one pull. Just make sure you are pulling from one side all the way to the other to ensure you’re removing the entire thing.
  2. Prepare the spice rub: To a small bowl add garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  3. Season Ribs: Rub spice blend all over both sides of the ribs.
  4. Prep Air Fryer: Heat your air fryer to 375°F for maybe 2 or 3 minutes.
  5. Air Fry Ribs: Place seasoned ribs in the air fryer meat side down first. Cook for 20 minutes. Using tongs, flip the ribs to cook the other side for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Sauce it up: Open the air fryer and slather ribs with the bbq sauce. Air fry for an additional 5 minutes and remove.
  7. Repeat: Continue the same process with the remaining ribs racks and serve.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 rack
  • Calories: 357
  • Sugar: 16 g
  • Sodium: 1100 mg
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Cholesterol: 75 mg

Keywords: air fryer BBQ ribs, air fry ribs, pork ribs in air fryer

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Krista
Hi! I'm the recipe developer and food photographer behind all these easy healthy recipes! I love food, Jesus, morning lattes, and am obsessed with fantasy football!

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