Oven Baked Five-Spice Ribs

Oven baked five spice ribs | Omnivore's Cookbook

When it comes to baking, I have to admit that I’m a beginner among beginners. I got my first oven only a year ago, and I haven’t used it to cook meat very often, since my family has a diet that is close to vegetarian. When I successfully made these baked five-spice ribs from scratch, I was really thrilled.

The truth is, I had had this nice rack of baby back pork ribs in the freezer for almost two months and had been feeling discouraged to cook them until today, because last time I tried to create some Asian fusion baked ribs it came out horribly. I made up some marinade myself, which was too thin to coat the meat. I used aluminum foil to wrap the ribs and baked them in the oven at a temperature that was too high. The ribs turned out pale, dry, chewy, and utterly flavorless. The taste was so bad that I had to throw them away. What a waste!

Oven baked five spice ribs | Omnivore's Cookbook

My last failure taught me a good lesson – do your research and learn from others before trying to invent something new.

Once I had been blogging for a while, I started to develop a sort of paranoia towards creating recipes myself. I was trying to stand out from thousands of bloggers and ended up forcing myself to do something totally new and different. And then I failed and learned my lesson.

This time, I decided to do some thorough research beforehand, like the time we made those super yummy prime steaks. After browsing tons of recipes online, I found it difficult to select the best one. There are too many ways to cook BBQ ribs in the oven, and every theory claims its ribs are the perfect ones.

While I was getting lost among all the great recipes, I suddenly remembered I had this book – In The Charcuterie. I flipped through the pages and found this Five-Spice Baby Back Ribs recipe. It looked interesting, was Asian style, and very easy to prepare. So I decided to give it a try. I adapted the recipe and made a few tweaks to the marinade and cooking process.

Oven baked five spice ribs | Omnivore's CookbookOven baked five spice ribs | Omnivore's Cookbook

The ribs turned out so tasty, and I’m so relieved that I finally made them right this time. I won’t say they’re the perfect ribs, but they tasted really delicious. (Updated on 9 July: I had a few leftover ribs. When I ate them the two days after, they tasted soooooooo good! The spices must has been blended into the meat, which made the ribs so flavorful and tasted perfect this time!)  The flavor was quite new and different from other BBQ ribs I had had before. The meat was crispy and springy, with a nice char outside. They had a pungent fragrance of spices – star anise, cinnamon and fennel. The taste had a subtle and smoky flavor that was at the same time sweet, salty and savory. It is a great snack by itself, and is also perfect to serve with steamed rice. For a wine paring, a glass of merlot would be a good choice.

If you don’t have Chinese five-spice, you could check out this one from Season with Spice. Reese and Mark are running this small business in the US and I really enjoy using their products. Their Chinese spices are as authentic as the Chinese ones that I buy in Beijing.

What is your favorite type of ribs? Drop a note below to share your secret recipe! 🙂

Oven baked five spice ribs | Omnivore's Cookbook

{Please take note} This recipe will generate some great ribs in a relatively short amount of time and there is not much fuss while baking. You can tear the meat off the bones easily, but it is not the super tender and “falling off of the bone” type of ribs. The ribs are baked directly in the oven without being wrapped in aluminum foil, which shortens the cooking time, but will increase the risk of giving the meat a dry texture. To avoid a long baking time, the thinner and more tender baby back ribs will be the best choice. If you’re using the bigger, meatier spareribs, you might want to use the baking method in this recipe, in order to cook for them a longer time without drying out the meat.


Oven Baked Five-Spice Ribs

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Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 1.2 kilograms 2.5 pounds rack of baby back pork ribs
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons five spice
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder


  • Place ribs on a cutting board, meat side down. Use a sharp knife to pry the membrane on the edge of the ribs to loosen it, then grab the membrane hand, tear it off by hand, and throw it away (See picture instruction here). Cut the rack into 2 to 3 pieces.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, rub the mixture over the ribs evenly. Place the ribs into a plastic bag or ziplock, then add in the rest of the sauce. Marinate in fridge overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 F). Line a baking tray with two layers of aluminum foil and place ribs on top, meat side up. Reserve the remaining sauce for later use.
  • Oven baked five spice ribs | Omnivore's Cookbook
  • Oven baked five spice ribs | Omnivore's Cookbook
  • Place the baking tray on the lowest level of the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the meat begins to ease its way back from the end of bone. During baking, baste the ribs with the juice from the tray after 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, baste the ribs with half of the reserved marinade. After 45 minutes, baste the ribs with all the remaining sauce.
  • Remove the ribs from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes. Cut the rack into individual ribs and serve with steamed rice as main course, or serve as a snack.

The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 4 servings produced by the recipe.

Oven baked five spice ribs nutrition facts | Omnivore's Cookbook


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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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9 thoughts on “Oven Baked Five-Spice Ribs

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Leah, thanks for stopping by! I totally understand the what you mean and I share the same feeling too. Cooking ribs require a lot of practice and experiments, and I feel so wasteful if I failed it.
      Have a great day! 🙂

  1. Meldy

    Just a question on the chili powder. Is it the chili powder normally used in Mexican cooking or Chile powder that is ground from Chile peppers (like ground cayenne pepper)?

      1. Meldy

        Thank you! Sorry for posting twice. I thought I messed up the first time and it didn’t go through so I posted a 2nd time. I will be making it this week.