Step-by-Step Guide on How to Sous Vide Ribs

Sous vide ribs have taken the culinary world by storm, thanks to the innovative cooking method that guarantees mouthwatering, fall-off-the-bone results every time. Sous vide ribs involve sealing the ribs in an airtight container, usually a vacuum-sealed bag, and then cooking them in a temperature-controlled water bath. This technique has become increasingly popular among home cooks and professional chefs alike, as it consistently delivers tender, flavorful sous vide ribs.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of preparing sous vide ribs, highlight the benefits of this cooking method, and share expert tips to help you achieve the perfect sous vide ribs every single time.

Step 1: Choose the Right Cut of Ribs

When it comes to sous vide ribs, the cut you choose can make a big difference in the final result. The most common types of ribs used for sous vide cooking are baby back ribs and spare ribs. Baby back ribs are shorter and more tender than spare ribs, while spare ribs are larger and meatier. Both types of ribs can be cooked using the sous vide method, but the cooking time and temperature may vary slightly.

Cut of RibsCooking MethodTemperatureTimeNotes
Baby Back RibsSous Vide145°F (63°C)12-24 hoursTender and quick-cooking
Spare RibsSous Vide165°F (74°C)24-36 hoursLarger and meatier, requires longer cooking
St. Louis Style RibsSous Vide165°F (74°C)24-36 hoursTrimmed spare ribs, uniform in shape
Country Style RibsSous Vide165°F (74°C)18-24 hoursMeatier and more tender than other cuts
Baby Back RibsGrilling225°F (107°C)3-4 hoursWrap in foil after 2 hours for tenderness
Spare RibsGrilling225°F (107°C)4-5 hoursWrap in foil after 2-3 hours for tenderness
St. Louis Style RibsGrilling225°F (107°C)4-5 hoursWrap in foil after 2-3 hours for tenderness
Country Style RibsGrilling225°F (107°C)3-4 hoursWrap in foil after 2 hours for tenderness
Baby Back RibsOven275°F (135°C)2-3 hoursWrap in foil for the entire cooking time
Spare RibsOven275°F (135°C)3-4 hoursWrap in foil for the entire cooking time
St. Louis Style RibsOven275°F (135°C)3-4 hoursWrap in foil for the entire cooking time
Country Style RibsOven275°F (135°C)2-3 hoursWrap in foil for the entire cooking time

Sous Vide Products I Use Every Day

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Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
$99.00
$127.96
$24.99
$59.99
$18.99
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
$99.00
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
$127.96
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
$24.99
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
$59.99
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
$18.99

Last update on 2024-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


When selecting your ribs, look for a rack that has a good amount of meat on the bones and minimal fat. Avoid ribs that are too lean, as they may become tough during the cooking process. Look for ribs that are evenly sized, as this will ensure even cooking throughout.

Step 2: Prepare Your Sous Vide Cooker

Before you start cooking your ribs, you’ll need to set up your sous vide cooker. Fill a large pot or container with water and attach your sous vide cooker to the side. Set the temperature to the desired level (more on this later) and allow the water to come to temperature.

Step 3: Season Your Ribs

While the water is heating up, it’s time to season your ribs. You can use any seasoning blend you like, but a simple mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika works well. Rub the seasoning blend all over the ribs, making sure to cover every surface.

Listed below are some recommend rib seasonings:

Cut of RibsSeasoning MethodRecommended Seasonings
Baby Back RibsDry RubBrown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
Spare RibsDry RubPaprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder
St. Louis Style RibsDry RubBrown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, dried oregano
Country Style RibsMarinadeSoy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes
Baby Back RibsMarinadeApple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce
Spare RibsWet RubYellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper
St. Louis Style RibsWet RubDijon mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper
Country Style RibsDry RubPaprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, brown sugar, dried thyme, dried rosemary
Baby Back RibsWet RubTomato paste, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper
Spare RibsMarinadeOrange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, black pepper, olive oil
St. Louis Style RibsMarinadePineapple juice, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil
Country Style RibsWet RubBBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper

Step 4: Vacuum Seal Your Ribs

Once your ribs are seasoned, it’s time to seal them in a vacuum-sealed bag. Place the ribs in the bag, making sure they are in a single layer and not overlapping. If your rack of ribs is too large to fit in a single bag, you can cut them into smaller sections.

Use your vacuum sealer to remove all the air from the bag and create an airtight seal. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can use the water displacement method to remove the air from the bag. Simply place the bag with the ribs in a large bowl of water, leaving the top of the bag open. As you lower the bag into the water, the water pressure will force the air out of the bag. Once all the air is removed, seal the bag tightly.

Step 5: Set the Temperature and Time for Sous Vide Cooking

The temperature and cooking time for sous vide ribs will depend on the type of ribs you are using and your desired level of doneness. As a general rule, baby back ribs should be cooked at 145°F (63°C) for 12-24 hours, while spare ribs should be cooked at 165°F (74°C) for 24-36 hours.

Recipe/StyleCut of RibsTemperatureTime
Classic BBQ RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Classic BBQ RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Asian-Style RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Asian-Style RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Mexican-Style RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Mexican-Style RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Honey Garlic RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Honey Garlic RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Spicy Cajun RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Spicy Cajun RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Teriyaki RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Teriyaki RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Jamaican Jerk RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Jamaican Jerk RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Smoky Chipotle RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)12-24 hours
Smoky Chipotle RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)24-36 hours
Fall-Off-The-Bone Tender RibsBaby Back Ribs145°F (63°C)24-36 hours
Fall-Off-The-Bone Tender RibsSpare Ribs165°F (74°C)36-48 hours

If you prefer your ribs to be more tender and fall-off-the-bone, you can increase the cooking time. Keep in mind, however, that cooking your ribs for too long can result in a mushy texture.

Step 6: Place the Sealed Ribs in the Sous Vide Cooker

Once your water has reached the desired temperature, carefully lower the sealed bag of ribs into the water bath. Make sure the bag is fully submerged and not touching the sides or bottom of the pot.

Set a timer for the desired cooking time and let the sous vide cooker do its job. You can walk away and focus on other tasks, as the sous vide cooker will maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.

Step 7: Finish Your Ribs on the Grill or Oven

After the cooking time is up, carefully remove the bag of ribs from the water bath using tongs. Remove the ribs from the bag and pat them dry with paper towels.

At this point, your ribs will be fully cooked and tender, but they won’t have the crispy exterior that many people associate with traditional barbecue. To achieve this, you can finish your ribs on the grill or in the oven.

To finish your ribs on the grill, preheat your grill to high heat. Brush the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce and place them on the grill for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the sauce is caramelized and the exterior is crispy.

To finish your ribs in the oven, preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Place the ribs on a baking sheet and brush them with barbecue sauce. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce is caramelized and the exterior is crispy.

What is Sous Vide Cooking?

Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, is a cooking technique that involves sealing food in an airtight container and cooking it in a water bath at a precise temperature. This method allows for even cooking throughout the food, ensuring that it is cooked to perfection without overcooking or undercooking. Sous vide cooking has gained popularity in recent years due to its ability to produce consistently delicious results with minimal effort.

Why Choose Sous Vide for Cooking Ribs?

Ribs are a popular choice for barbecue enthusiasts, but achieving the perfect balance of tenderness and flavor can be challenging. Traditional cooking methods, such as grilling or smoking, require constant monitoring and adjustment to ensure that the ribs don’t become tough or dry. With sous vide cooking, however, you can achieve perfectly cooked ribs every time, with minimal effort and attention required.

What are the Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking?

Sous vide cooking offers several benefits over traditional cooking methods. First and foremost, it allows for precise temperature control, ensuring that your food is cooked to the exact doneness you desire. This is particularly important for proteins like ribs, which can easily become tough or dry if overcooked. Sous vide cooking allows for even cooking throughout the food, eliminating the risk of undercooked or overcooked spots.

Another benefit of sous vide cooking is that it allows for hands-off cooking. Once you’ve sealed your food in the vacuum-sealed bag and set the temperature on your sous vide cooker, you can walk away and let it do its job. This frees up your time to focus on other tasks, such as preparing side dishes or entertaining guests.

What Equipment Do You Need for Sous Vide Cooking?

To get started with sous vide cooking, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment. First and foremost, you’ll need a sous vide cooker, which is a device that heats and circulates water at a precise temperature. There are several types of sous vide cookers available, ranging from immersion circulators that clip onto the side of a pot to all-in-one sous vide ovens.

In addition to a sous vide cooker, you’ll need vacuum-sealed bags or a vacuum sealer. These are used to seal your food in an airtight container, which is essential for sous vide cooking. You can find vacuum-sealed bags and sealers at most kitchen supply stores or online retailers.

How Long Does It Take to Sous Vide Ribs?

The cooking time for sous vide ribs will depend on the type of ribs you are using and your desired level of doneness. As a general rule, baby back ribs should be cooked for 12-24 hours, while spare ribs should be cooked for 24-36 hours.

If you prefer your ribs to be more tender and fall-off-the-bone, you can increase the cooking time. Keep in mind, however, that cooking your ribs for too long can result in a mushy texture.

What Temperature Should You Use for Sous Vide Ribs?

The temperature for sous vide ribs will depend on the type of ribs you are using and your desired level of doneness. As a general rule, baby back ribs should be cooked at 145°F (63°C), while spare ribs should be cooked at 165°F (74°C).

If you prefer your ribs to be more tender and fall-off-the-bone, you can increase the temperature slightly. Keep in mind, however, that cooking your ribs at too high of a temperature can result in a dry and tough texture.

Can You Overcook Ribs with Sous Vide?

One of the benefits of sous vide cooking is that it is very difficult to overcook your food. Because the water bath is maintained at a consistent temperature, your food will cook evenly throughout and will not exceed the desired level of doneness.

However, it is possible to cook your ribs for too long, which can result in a mushy texture. As a general rule, baby back ribs should not be cooked for longer than 24 hours, while spare ribs should not be cooked for longer than 36 hours.

What Seasonings Work Best for Sous Vide Ribs?

When it comes to seasoning your sous vide ribs, the possibilities are endless. You can use any seasoning blend you like, from a simple mixture of salt and pepper to a more complex dry rub.

Some popular seasonings for sous vide ribs include garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. You can also add sweetness to your ribs with brown sugar or honey.

Keep in mind that because sous vide cooking allows for even cooking throughout the meat, you don’t need to use as much seasoning as you would with traditional cooking methods. A little goes a long way!

How to Serve and Pair Your Sous Vide Ribs?

Sous vide ribs are a versatile dish that can be served in a variety of ways. They can be enjoyed on their own as a main course, or they can be sliced and served as an appetizer or party snack.

When it comes to pairing your sous vide ribs, there are many options to choose from. Classic barbecue sides like coleslaw, baked beans, and corn on the cob are always a hit. You can also pair your ribs with a fresh salad or roasted vegetables for a lighter option.

If you’re serving your ribs as a main course, you may want to consider pairing them with a starch like mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, or potato salad. These hearty sides will help to balance out the richness of the meat.

No matter how you choose to serve your sous vide ribs, they are sure to be a hit with your family and friends. So fire up your sous vide cooker and get ready to enjoy some of the most tender and flavorful ribs you’ve ever tasted!