Slow-Cooked Barbecue Spareribs Recipe

Succulent, lip-smackingly good spareribs take time—but they are worth every minute
Slow-Cooked Barbecue Spareribs

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Get ready for backyard barbecue season with this recipe for ribs sure to impress your family and friends. Succulent, lip-smackingly good spareribs take time—but they are worth every minute, says chef and cookbook author Molly Stevens, who created this recipe for Real Food. First, the ribs are coated in a dry rub and refrigerated overnight, then they cook slow-and-low in a gentle oven, and finally get brushed with a thick, spicy-sweet barbecue sauce before being grilled to caramelized perfection, says Stevens. Coleslaw and cornbread make ideal sides for these Kansas City-style ribs—and make sure to put out plenty of napkins.

Slow-Cooked Barbecue Spareribs

Makes 6 Servings

For the Spice Rub
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 racks pork spareribs (6 to 7 pounds total)
1 cup lager beer (or water)

For the Barbecue Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (with their liquid) or tomato sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce, or to taste

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all the spice rub ingredients. Massage the rub into the ribs, coating all surfaces. Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. Heat the oven to 300°F. Place the ribs in a roasting pan, meat side up. Add the beer (or water) to the pan, cover tightly with foil, and cook until meat is very tender and begins to pull away from the bone, about 2 hours. Uncover and let cool in the pan. (The ribs may be made ahead up until this point, wrapped in foil, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Discard the drippings.)
  3. Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, and salt, and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes (or tomato sauce), ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook at a quiet simmer until thick and flavorful, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Heat a grill to medium-high. Brush the ribs lightly with barbecue sauce. Grill, flipping, and basting with more sauce as needed until heated through and sizzling, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and cut between the bones. Heat any remaining barbecue sauce until warm and serve alongside the ribs.

Cook’s Notes:
• Spareribs come from the belly portion of the pig, and they are heftier—and meatier—than baby back ribs, making them more suitable for a main course. Shop for slabs that look well-trimmed with plenty of lean meat.
• If you don’t have access to an outdoor grill (or if the weather won’t cooperate), you can finish the ribs in the oven: Heat the oven to 475°F. Brush the ribs lightly with barbecue sauce and arrange them on a baking sheet. Cook, turning once or twice, until sizzling and browned, about 15 minutes.
• If you’re short on time, you can substitute a favorite store-bought barbecue sauce; you’ll need about 2 cups (16 ounces).

Nutrition Slow-Cooked Barbecue Spareribs (Per Serving): Calories 1070; Fat 66 (Sat. 26g); Chol 310mg; Sodium 2270mg; Carb 36g; Fiber 4g; Sugar 28g; Protein 87g

Slow-Cooked Barbecue Spareribs

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Hungry for More?

Looking for more grilling inspiration and delicious bites and drinks? Check out the 11th annual Minnesota Monthly Grill Fest, June 3 and 4 at CHS Field in St. Paul.


Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.