Learn how to cook juicy, fall-off-the-bone pork spare ribs in the air fryer! This Air Fryer Ribs recipe takes only 40 minutes and is an easier cooking method for this barbecue classic.
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Learn how to cook ribs in a fraction of the time it usually takes! Thanks to this air fryer spare ribs recipe, you can have dry rubbed spare ribs in less than 40 minutes. Every bite is tender, juicy, and deliciously smoky.
Why this recipe works
- An easier way to cook ribs: Spare ribs are typically baked in the oven, braised on the stovetop, or grilled. They’re cooked at a low temperature to tenderize the meat, which can be tedious and time-consuming (despite the mouth-watering results). The air fryer speeds up the process while still leaving you with juicy ribs!
- Doesn’t dry out the meat: Spare ribs are naturally fatty, which makes them perfect for air frying. The fat adds more flavor while filling the meat with natural flavorful juices. That, plus a layer of oil, prevents the air fryer pork ribs from drying out.
- Ready in 40 minutes: No babysitting required! Let the ribs do their thing in the air fryer for 40 minutes while you work on all kinds of sides, like an heirloom tomato salad and oven roasted potatoes.
Pork spare ribs are the star of this recipe, while a handful of other ingredients enhance each bite. This is everything you need:
- Pork spare ribs – These ribs are marbled with fat, making them naturally juicy and flavorful. They’re cut from the ends of baby back ribs but are more budget-friendly than baby backs. You can learn even more about this tasty rack of ribs in my Instant Pot Spare Ribs recipe.
- Olive oil – Rubbing a layer of oil over each rib helps the spices stick to the outside as well as infuses fat and flavor into each bite.
- BBQ sauce – Feel free to use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce or make your own. Primal Kitchen Organic Barbecue Sauce is my favorite.
- Rib dry rub – I made a custom dry rub for ribs using a smoky blend of chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper.
How to cook spare ribs in the air fryer
You’ll love how easy it is to cook pork ribs in the air fryer. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1 – Trim the excess fat from the ribs, then slice in between each rib bone to separate them. Rub each rib with olive oil.
Step 2 – Make the rib dry rub by mixing the spices together in a bowl. Use your hands to rub a generous layer of the dry rub on each rib.
Step 3 – Place the dry rub ribs into the air fryer basket, then cook until they’re done to your liking.
Tip: Avoid overlapping the ribs in the air fryer because this can lead to uneven cooking. Instead, air fry the ribs in two separate batches.
Step 4 – Brush the cooked ribs with a layer of barbecue sauce once they’re done cooking. Let them air fry for another 5 minutes to help seal the sauce to the outside.
Step 5 – Garnish the ribs with fresh cilantro and serve with extra barbecue sauce on the side. Enjoy!
There is no shortage of side dishes that go well with pork ribs! I recommend serving them with all of the classics you would normally find at a backyard barbecue, such as quinoa chickpea salad, potato salad, strawberry spinach salad, roasted potatoes, and pasta salad.
Frequently asked questions
It took me between 20 to 25 minutes to cook one batch of spare ribs in a 375ºF air fryer. However, the time can vary depending on the meatiness of the ribs.
The easiest way to tell that the ribs are done cooking is with a meat thermometer. The pork ribs are ready to eat when their internal temperature reaches 145ºF.
A full rack of pork spare ribs has 13 ribs, which should be enough to feed two to three people. Plan on serving three to five ribs per person.
To store: Leftover ribs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
To freeze: Wrap the ribs in a layer of foil, then place them in an airtight freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 2 months.
To reheat: The microwave will warm up the ribs easily, but you can also reheat them in the air fryer.
Looking for more easy barbecue recipes?
- Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs
- New York Strip Steak
- Veggies and Sausage Kabobs
- Barbecue Chicken Pizza
- Grilled Eggplant Tacos
Air Fryer Ribs
- Air Fryer
- 2 lb spare ribs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- Prep ribs by removing extra fat as needed and slicing them between the rib bones. Rub ribs with olive oil evenly.
- In a small bowl mix together dry rub ingredients. Spread onto the ribs evenly using your hands.
- Place ribs in the basket of air fryer without overlapping it. It took me two batches to cook 2lbs of ribs in air fryer.
- Cook at 375F degrees for about 20-25 minutes depending on how meaty is your spare ribs and how well done you like. Flip ribs half way through.
- When done brush ribs with BBQ sauce and put back in air fryer for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with extra BBQ sauce.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.