Tony Roma's BBQ Baby Back Ribs (Copycat Recipe)

Here at BBQ Grilling Basics we provide number of BBQ recipes; like recipes for homemade BBQ rubs and marinades. However, we have also received more than a few requests for copycat recipes. One of the most popular requests is for Tony Roma's BBQ Baby Back Ribs. If you have ever eaten these, you know why they are so popular. If not, you are about to get your chance.

Now, before I wrote this article I went searching to see if anyone else had attempted to make a copycat version of Tony Roma's famous ribs. I found plenty of sites that claim to have copycat recipes but they were all quick, cheap knock-offs. None came very close to the real thing. So, I sat down and tried my hand at it. The result was really pretty stunning and I think you will agree.

I want to make to make the point here that any of the name brand products mentioned below can be substituted for some other brand but it may affect the flavor of the recipe.

Tony Roma's BBQ Baby Back Ribs Sauce

1 cup of Hunt's Fancy Ketchup
1 cup of Heinz Distilled White Vinegar
1/2 cup of Dark Corn Syrup
2 tsp of Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp of Sea Salt
1/2 tsp of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp of MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
2 cloves of Fresh Garlic (finely minced or pressed)
1/2 tsp of Onion Powder
1/8 tsp of Cayenne Pepper

To make the sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and allow it simmer for about 20 minutes until it becomes as thick as any normal BBQ sauce should be.

Now that you have the sauce it's time to actually make the ribs. This part is really more of a recommendation. I'm sure many of you would prefer to cook the ribs in your own normal and by all means, knock yourselves out. I'm sure it will be excellent but this is the procedure I use.

Tony Roma's BBQ Baby Back Ribs Procedure

3 slabs of Baby Back Ribs
Tony Roma's BBQ Baby Back Ribs Sauce

Start by preparing the ribs. This is quick and easy, if you have never done it. The only real consideration is to ensure that the membrane has been removed from the bone-side of the slab. If not, just slide a dull knife under the membrane and lift it up a small section of it. (You might have to pry it a little bit.) Then grab that section and peel the membrane off. It's pretty tough so it should come off in one piece. Finally, clean anyway any excess fat that may have been trapped underneath it.

Once the ribs are cleaned up, place them in a pot of water and boil them for about 30 minutes. Afterwards give them a generous coating of sauce and wrap them in aluminum foil suitable for baking. Don't use the super thin stuff, if it breaks, you are going to have a nasty mess to clean up. Make sure you sealed them up good and then pop them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

After that preheat the oven to 250°F and stick the ribs in. Let them cook for about 2 and 1/2 hours and take them out.

At this point you have two choices. The first is to coat the ribs with the remaining sauce and stick them back in the oven with the foil unwrapped (so they are exposed). Turn the oven on broil and let them cook for about 15 more minutes. This will give them a nice crispy top.

The other alternative (the one I usually do) is to allow the ribs to cool, seal them back up and put them back in the refrigerator. Later when you are ready to serve them; fire up the grill, coat them with the remaining sauce and cook them until they are warm and a little bit crispy. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes on each side.

There you have it. Tony Roma's BBQ Baby Back Ribs right at home. It's a fairly lengthy procedure but it's not the least bit hard, just time consuming. Below is a list of possible alternatives for you test out.

Alternative Procedures for making Tony Roma's BBQ Baby Back Ribs

There must be a hundred things you could do differently but here are a few that I like.

Try adding 1/2 tsp of Liquid Smoke to the sauce recipe. This gives a nice smoky flavor that is really quite heavenly.

You could forgo boiling the ribs at all and just bake them. In that case, bake them at 300°F for about 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours.

Make up a double batch of the rib sauce and use it as a dipping sauce as well (check out our honey-bbq dipping sauce recipe too).

You could also cook them in a smoker. In that case, smoke them at 225°F for about 3 to 4 hours.

Try adding other spices to the sauce; thyme, white pepper, mustard seeds and coriander all good candidates.

Place the ribs (in the foil) in a large casserole dish when baking them, to prevent spillage if they happen to leak.

A Quick BBQ Fact:

Did you know there are six different ways to spell barbecue in the english language? BBQ, Bar-BQ, Bar-B-Cue, Bar-B-Que, Barbeque and Barbecue. That's a lot of BBQs!