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Can BBQ Ribs be Cooked in an Air Fryer?


If you are a fan of succulent and tender BBQ ribs, you may be wondering if it is possible to achieve the same delicious results using an air fryer. Air fryers have gained popularity in recent years for their ability to cook food quickly, evenly, and with less oil compared to traditional frying methods. In this article, we will explore whether air fryers can effectively cook BBQ ribs and provide tips and recommendations for achieving the best results.

The Air Frying Process

To understand whether BBQ ribs can be cooked in an air fryer, it is important to first understand how air fryers work. These appliances use rapid air circulation combined with high heat to mimic the cooking process of deep frying, but with significantly less oil. The result is crispy and well-cooked food that is healthier and more convenient to prepare.

Preparing Ribs for Air Frying

Before delving into the cooking process, it is crucial to properly prepare the ribs for air frying. This involves seasoning and marinating them to enhance their flavor and tenderness. You can use a dry rub or a wet marinade, depending on your personal preference. Ensure that the ribs are coated evenly and allow them to marinate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight, to let the flavors penetrate the meat.

Air Frying BBQ Ribs

Once the ribs are adequately prepared, it is time to start air frying. Here are some steps to follow for optimal results:

  1. Preheat your air fryer to around 375°F (190°C).
  2. Remove excess marinade from the ribs, as too much liquid can hinder the air frying process.
  3. Place the ribs in a single layer in the air fryer basket, ensuring that they are not overcrowded. You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
  4. Cook the ribs for approximately 25-30 minutes, flipping them halfway through. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the ribs and the specific model of the air fryer you are using.
  5. Check for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C) for pork ribs.
  6. Once the ribs are cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove them from the air fryer and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Achieving BBQ Flavor

While air frying can produce deliciously cooked ribs, some enthusiasts might argue that the smoky BBQ flavor associated with traditional grilling or smoking methods is missing. However, there are ways to enhance the flavor of air-fried ribs:

  1. Consider using a smoker box or adding wood chips to your air fryer to infuse the ribs with a smoky flavor during the cooking process.
  2. Baste the ribs with BBQ sauce during the last few minutes of air frying to add a tangy and caramelized finish.
  3. Alternatively, you can finish the ribs on a traditional grill or under the broiler for a short period to achieve the desired smoky flavor and charred crust.


In conclusion, while air fryers may not completely replicate the classic BBQ flavor and texture of traditional grilling or smoking methods, they can still be used to create delicious and tender BBQ ribs. By properly preparing the ribs and following the recommended cooking steps, you can achieve impressive results using an air fryer. Whether you are looking for a healthier alternative or simply want to save time in the kitchen, air frying BBQ ribs is definitely worth a try. With a little experimentation and personalization, you can tailor your air-fried ribs to your taste preferences and enjoy them anytime, all year round.

“Air fryers offer a convenient and healthier way of cooking BBQ ribs. While they may not replicate the exact flavor and texture of grilling or smoking, air-fried ribs can still be incredibly delicious.”