Sous vide ribs that have been cooked for 24 hours and then finished on the smoker or grill are the best pork ribs you’ve ever had.
These ribs are meaty but tender, and they fall off the bone when you touch them.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS?
- Sous vide cooking keeps the ribs at a constant temperature for an extended period of time. The moisture in the sous vide bag will keep the meat tender.
- Get the bark and smoke of traditional smoked ribs without drying them out.
- This is a mostly hands-off cooking method that yields the most tender ribs.
- Cook the sous vide pork ribs ahead of time and then finish them when you’re ready to eat. This is a great meal to prepare ahead of time.
WHAT KIND OF RIBS SHOULD I USE?
This is a recipe for pork ribs. Spare ribs or baby back ribs will do! If you’re doing baby back ribs, stick to the 12 hour mark because this cut is typically smaller than spare ribs, which should be cooked for closer to 16 hours.
Porter Road has my favorite spare ribs, and they’ll deliver right to your door!
And if you’re lucky enough to get their Dino Ribs when they’re in stock, take advantage of it (and up the cook time to 24 hours).
WHAT IS THE WATER DISPLACEMENT METHOD?
The displacement method involves slowly immersing a ziplock bag in water and pushing the air out of the bag’s top (the bag should be slightly open at the top to allow air to escape).
Clip the bag to the side with a clip (I use binder clips) to keep it from floating and letting air and/or water inside.
HOW TO MAKE SOUS VIDE RIBS?
- Remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs and set aside.
- If you don’t have a roll of vac and seal bags on hand, cut between the ribs to make smaller potions that will fit into a gallon bag.
- Sous vide the ribs: Place the ribs in a sous vide water bath set to 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours.
- Prepare the sauce: To add flavor, combine the purge, or liquid in the bag, with the BBQ sauce you’ll be basting the ribs with.
- Finish the ribs by heating your smoker grill to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and smoking the ribs for one hour. After an hour, brush the ribs lightly with the bbq sauce. Close the lid and continue to smoke for another 15 minutes.
- Continue basting the ribs every 15 minutes, allowing the bark to form in between.
- Ribs are done when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit, but I let mine go to 190.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SOUS VIDE RIBS?
It takes a full 24 hours to properly sous vide ribs. They will be done much faster, but you need that time to really break down the fat and tissue to make them fall off the bone delicious!
I know 24 hours seems like an eternity, but don’t worry, you won’t overcook them! When you cook something sous vide, it is nearly impossible to overcook it.
And really, if you mess it up, it’s the texture that’s degrading, not the fact that it’s overcooked.
WHAT TEMPERATURE TO SOUS VIDE RIBS?
For ribs you want to set your sous vide to 155º F. There are recipes that call for temperatures ranging from 152o F to 165o F, but I find that 155o F produces the most tender and delicious ribs.
Technically pork is safe to eat at 145º F, so what you are doing with the temperature is really controlling how the fat and everything is going to break down and give you that tender, not chewy or tough bite.
HOW TO COOK FROZEN SOUS VIDE BEEF RIBS?
Defrost the spare ribs for 12+ hours before placing them in the sous vide bath to save time. One of my favorite ways to use the convenience of sous vide cooking is to cook ribs from frozen.
This means that you can buy meat in bulk, vacuum seal it with seasonings, and then sous vide BBQ beef ribs from frozen. To cook frozen ribs sous vide, add 1 hour to the total cooking time.
HOW TO FINISH SOUS VIDE RIBS IN THE OVEN?
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit / 150 degrees Celsius. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and insert a wire rack into each.
- Distribute the ribs evenly on the baking sheets, facing up. Transfer the ribs to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the ribs are thoroughly heated.
- Return the ribs to the oven for 15 minutes after brushing with sauce. Remove from the oven, brush with another thin layer of sauce, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until it is dry and sticky. Repeat until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 170-190 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the ribs from the oven, brush with a final layer of sauce, and serve with extra sauce on the side.
- As the ribs cook, keep the water bath covered. Water will evaporate over the course of a 24 hour cook time, so check your water level and refill as needed.
- If you enjoy the traditional smoke flavor of ribs, use the smoker method to finish cooking them. Put on the smoker for about 90 minutes at 180º F to impart great smoke flavor.
- Don’t skip the step of using a rub. The spices blend well together and enhance the flavor of the pork. If you have a favorite blend, you can certainly use it. I will like my favorite rub in the recipe card below.
- Be sure to use your favorite barbecue sauce when you are browning the ribs at the end.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is silver skin and how do I remove it?
Silver skin is white, sometimes with a blue/silver sheen, papery membrane on the back of the ribs. Start by using a small sharp knife to loosen it from the meat and then use a paper towel or clean dish towel to pull it off in a sheet.
Do I need to remove the flap or the sternum of the St. Louis Ribs?
You are welcome to remove the flap (tip) or the sternum (opposite the bone cut) but I am fine with sous vide and smoking those parts as part of the rack of ribs. Those are usually removed for asceticism. Because my family will eat them, I will prepare them.
Can I add a rub to my ribs before I sous vide them?
Yes you can! One method is to rub a dry rub on all sides of the ribs before cooking them sous vide.
Can I use liquid smoke?
If you don’t have a smoker but still want the delicious smoky flavor, add 4 drops or 18 teaspoon of your favorite liquid smoke to the bag before sealing and cooking the ribs.