These Pork Riblets make a great party appetizer, finger food or snack and are just like the ones on the menu at the neighbourhood pub. They’re crispy, easy to make yourself at home and don’t need no fancy seasonings to be absolutely delicious.
There’s not a pub that the boyfriend and I don’t go to where we don’t make it a point to try their ‘Pork Bites’ or ‘Dry Ribs’ or ‘Riblets’ ….or whatever they wanna call them. And yes, I don’t know if it’s just where I live, but you can almost always find a variation of them on every single menu. I mean, I can totally see why. Pork riblets are the perfect party food or snack. Essssspecially alongside a cold beer and maybe a plate of nachos or chicken wings. They are THE perfect pub food and super cheap to both buy and make. Since discovering that their deliciousness is SO easy to replicate at home, they’ve got thrown into the category of ‘things to make when I don’t feel like cooking’ or ‘Friday night pub nights….without even having to go to a pub’.
We’re not the only ones with nights like those in our household… right?!
To say that Pork Riblets are one of OUR favourite foods is an understatement. We just love them. Which sounds super weird coming from my boyfriend who firmly claims he hates pork at least once a week. *eye roll* We feel like not many people even know about these glorious little things. And that it is our duty, as the people who have proudly tried ’em in SEVERAL different establishments, to spread the word about how fingerlickin’-ly delicious they are. So, here’s us, standing on the rooftops and screaming: YOU REALLLLLLLY NEED TO MAKE THIS RIBLETS PORK RECIPE! DO IT! DO ITTTTT!
Or, at the very least, get an order the next time you happen to be sitting at your neighbourhood pub. Maybe I’ll see ya there! 😉
WHAT IS PORK RIBLETS?
Ok, so, embarrassing story. When I first went on my far and wide search for what cut of meat those tasty pub dry ribs are, I didn’t realize that they were actually in front of my face the entire time.
You’ll find pork riblets in the meat section of the grocery store. Or at your local butcher (ask them if you don’t immediately see them in the case). I find that (at least where I live) not every grocery store always has them stocked up and it’s a kind of hit or miss situation. You’ll know ’em when you see ’em as pork riblets are shorter and stubbier looking than your typical pork back ribs. Since pork riblets are popular in Asian cooking, the easiest place to find them is at Asian grocery stores or supermarkets. Sometimes they are labeled ‘Sweet and Sour Ribs’ as that is what they’re mostly used to make. And sometimes, they are sold in a long slab instead of individual pieces. But don’t worry, a sharp knife is all you need to cut the slabs into riblets yourself.
Pork riblets are basically chicken wings in pork form. Haha. They’re crispy, have a bit of bone and you can season or sauce them however you want. They’re made by cutting a slab of ribs in half lengthwise so you get two separate portions. Then you cut those portions into individual pieces aka riblets. Riblets also come from the pieces the butcher trims off the racks of ribs to make them look nice and uniform. If you can’t find pork riblets pre cut and packaged, most butchers will be happy to cut a slab of pork loin back ribs in half. Then, when you get home, you can easily handle cutting them into riblets yourself.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE SALT AND PEPPER DRY RIBS
You can’t get any more basic than this. Am I right?! Let’s discuss the exact ingredients you’ll need to make these Riblets Pork Recipe just like your neighbourhood pub in a little bit more detail down below:
- Pork Riblets: Like the chicken wing of the pork world, riblets are easy to eat, customize and make. They’re smaller than your typical baby back rib and usually come with a bit of bone. See the section above to get a more detailed description of what pork riblets are, where you can find them or how to order them from your butcher.
- Olive Oil: Adds flavour and helps the pork ribs crisp up beautifully as they cook. As always, good quality and extra virgin works best in this recipe. However, you can use a different oil instead, such as avocado, if you prefer.
- Salt and Pepper: A lot of menus around here keep things pretty basic as far as seasonings go with just some salt and pepper (cause really, that’s all you need!). However, you can season these babies with whatever dry rub or sauce you want. Go crazy…or don’t!
HOW TO MAKE PORK RIBLETS (KEY TIPS)
You can find full instructions for how to make these crispy Pork Riblets in the recipe card down below. But here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Pat the pork riblets dry with paper towel before coating with the oil and seasonings. This absorbs their excess moisture making them extra crispy as they cook.
- Don’t be shy on the seasonings, even if it’s just salt and pepper. You want each and every pork riblet to be covered in the oil and seasonings for maximum flavour and best results. EXTRA TIP: Use your hands to toss the riblets making sure each is nicely coated. I like to toss the riblets in salt and pepper then add more salt and pepper and toss again.
- Don’t overcrowd the sheet pan or air fryer basket. Work in batches if you have to. Minimal touching is okay, however, don’t overlap or pile the ribs on top of each other. They need room to breathe so air can circulate and they can cook properly all the way around.
- Season the riblets both before and after cooking for maximum flavour. If using just salt and pepper, there is no need to marinate the riblets beforehand. But again, be sure to be generous with the seasonings for best results.
- To cook the riblets (whether you choose to air fry to oven bake), use a tray with air circulation. For air fryers that means the tray with the holes in it. And for ovens that means putting a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. The holes allow air to circulate in a 360° motion and cook the food evenly without having to flip it. If your air fryer doesn’t come with the basket that has holes in it or you don’t have a wire rack, you’ll have to flip the pork riblets halfway through to ensure even cooking all the way around. EXTRA TIP: All ovens and air fryers are different. So, the time it takes your riblets to cook may slightly differ from mine. They should take anywhere from 20-25 minutes in a 375° air fryer and anywhere from 30-40 minutes in a 375° oven. The riblets are done when they’re crispy and browned all over and an instant read thermometer registers at 145° when inserted into the meat without touching any bone.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Typically when you hear the term ‘ribs’ when talking about food, you think of a rack of fall off the bone and tender baby back ribs, perhaps slathered in a bit of BBQ sauce. Am I right? And while those are equally as delicious as these glorious little pork riblets, they do have their differences.
Pork riblets are smaller and stubbier pieces of rib (still with the bone intact). They typically measure about 2-inches per piece… hence why they make the perfect party food or appetizer! They’re what you get when you cut a rack of ribs in half to get two separate portions. They’re also amongst the pieces that the butcher trims off of a rack of ribs to make it look nice and uniform. Think of pork riblets as mini baby back ribs since they are simply smaller pieces that have been cut from a full rack. Since riblets are about half the size of regular ribs, they take way less time to cook making them a great alternative.
If you can’t find riblets readily available (precut and packaged) at the grocery store or market, don’t be afraid to ask your butcher. Most are happy to cut a slab of pork loin back ribs in half. Then when you get home, you can easily cut each slab into individual riblets yourself.
No, riblets and short ribs are two different cuts of meat. Short ribs are the continuation of the baby back rib section as it extends into the shoulder. While riblets are the trimmings off a rack of ribs or what you get when you cut a slab of ribs in half and then portion those halves further into individual pieces. Short ribs have a meat to bone ratio more than twice of regular ribs. While riblets have a meat to bone ratio of about half of regular ribs.
Riblets are an amazing party food, snack or appetizer and go great alongside other traditional favourites like Chunky Guacamole or Restaurant Style Potato Wedges. They are SO GOOD served up with any kind of dipping sauce such as Tzatziki, Ranch, Chipotle or Spicy Mayonnaise. Pork riblets are popular in Chinese cooking such as in dishes like Sweet and Sour Pork or Pork Rib Soup. Don’t forget them at your next Superbowl party next to the chili or jalapeño poppers!
If stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge, this Pork Riblets recipe will be good for up to 4 days. To reheat, simply throw them in a 350° oven or air fryer for about 10 minutes or until warmed through. Alternatively, use a microwave or skillet on a stovetop with little oil.
- 2 pounds Pork Riblets*
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven or air fryer to 375°.
- Pat the ribs dry with paper towel then add them to a bowl. Add the oil and a generous amount of both salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss the ribs and coat them nicely in the oil and seasonings.
- To oven bake: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then place a wire rack on top (If you don't have a wire rack, you will have to flip the riblets once halfway through cooking). Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the riblets reach your desired crispiness and doneness.
To air fry: Lay the ribs out in a single layer in the air fryer basket with holes (if you don't have an air fryer that has this type of tray, you will have to flip the riblets once halfway through cooking). Air fry for 20-25 minutes or until the riblets reach your desired crispiness and doneness. Hit them up with a little bit more salt and pepper while they're still hot and serve immediately with all your favourite dipping sauces.
Pork Riblets are made by cutting a slab of ribs in half lengthwise so you get two separate portions. Then you cut those portions into individual pieces aka riblets. Riblets also come from the pieces the butcher trims off the racks of ribs to make them look nice and uniform. If you can't find pork riblets pre cut and packaged, most butchers will be happy to cut a slab of pork loin back ribs in half. Then, when you get home, you can easily handle cutting them into riblets yourself.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 600Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 200mgSodium: 203mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 60g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
MORE PUB STYLE PARTY FOOD FAVOURITES