Cooking spare ribs – a few recipes to try

On ABC NSW radio 

There are many ways to cook spare ribs or sticky American style ribs.  Whichever method you choose it is all relatively easy.

Nothing quite like skipping formalities and eating the lot with your fingers!

Click on Cooking Tips then Spare ribs for details about quantities and what to buy.


Craig, one of our regular ABC NSW radio listeners, sent this email:

I have an enquiry so if you can assist it would be greatly appreciated – Cooking American Style Pork Ribs.   The type of Ribs recipes I am interested in are generally the slow-cooked ones which are basted/marinated in various sauces which can be bourbon based etc. I particularly like the Sticky based glazes.   There are a number of recipes available with different techniques for cooking them. ie. some say to pre-cook ribs by boiling them in water & then remove & slow cook on grill in oven or covered BBQ & baste etc. Others are to get pre-marinated ribs from the butcher then cook slowly for 2-3hrs.     Can you offer your opinion & some suggestions (and recipes or web sites) based on your experience keeping in mind that for me simple is best.

So for others who might have similar questions here ase some cooking tips and recipes:

  • Basically, there are 2 types of cooking. Either faster cooking at a high temperature or slower cooking at lower temperatures. You can do either in the oven or BBQ.
  • Although not necessary you can cover with foil for part of the cooking time but this should be removed for the last half of cooking time to allow the marinade to caramelise and ‘glaze’.I think it’s better to marinade for at least an hour but even better overnight.
  • Place the ribs on a rack over water to stop any dripping marinade from burning onto the pan.
  • If cooking uncovered, place ribs meat side down then turn halfway through cooking so meat caramelises.
  • You can brush extra marinade on ribs as they are cooking but once turned it’s probably better to only do it once or twice early on as the marinade has had raw meat in it so prevents any cross-contamination. But don’t waste the leftover marinade, simply put it in a small saucepan and bring to the boil to serve as a sauce.
  • Boiling the ribs is usually to remove excess fat. I don’t think this is necessary as it drains off as it cooks and the fat keeps the ribs lovely and moist.

To help get started, here are a couple of scrumptious recipes you might like to try.


Sticky American Ribs

Serves 4




½ cup tomato sauce

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons malt vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1kg spare ribs (beef or pork)


  • Combine marinade ingredients, pour over ribs and marinate for at least 1 hour.



  • Place ribs on a rack in a baking dish.
  • Pour in enough water to cover the base of the pan.
  • Put in hot oven 200°C and cook for 1 hour, turning once.

(Adapted from recipe by Dixie Elliott from Super Food Ideas Magazine August 2005, Page 82)


Oven Baked Sticky Chinese 5 Spiced BBQ Sauce

Serves 4

1kg pork spare ribs



150g hoisin sauce

3 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice


Dipping sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Dash of sesame oil

1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce


  • Combine marinade ingredients.
  • Add the ribs and coat thoroughly. Marinate for  30 minutes to overnight, refrigerated, turning occasionally.



    • Place the ribs, meat side down, on a wire rack set over a baking tray.
    • Add enough water to cover the base of the tray.
    • Cook for 20 minutes at 230°C then turn the ribs and cook at 200°C for 20 minutes.

Ribs cooking on a rack over water

  • Combine dipping sauce ingredients and serve with the ribs.

(recipe by Jill Dupleix on Times Online (


Slow BBQ Ribs

  • Stoke up the barbecue until nice and hot. When covered with a light ash push them to one side of the grill so strong indirect heat.
  • Cook the ribs for 2 – 21/2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.
  • Notes: Wrap about 2 cups hickory smoking chips in foil and poke some small holes in the foil with a fork. Place the foil package on the fire to add a smoky flavour to ribs.

Slow Baked Barbecue Sauce Ribs

Serves 4


1 1/2cups (375ml) barbecue sauce

1 cup (250ml) orange juice

1.8kg spare ribs



  • Place ribs in a single layer in a baking dish.
  • Combine barbecue sauce and orange juice and pour over ribs.
  • Cover with foil and bake 3 hours in a moderate low oven (150°C).
  • Uncover and increase oven to moderate (180°C). Bake for 1 hour, turning once.
  • Remove from oven and stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

Ribs with Marmalade Glaze

Serves 4


1.8kg spare ribs


4 tablespoons marmalade

4 tablespoons orange juice

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

Juice and rind of 2 lemons

Generous dash Worcestershire sauce


  • Mix marinade ingredients and pour over ribs. Marinate for 1-2 hours.
  • Barbecue over a moderate heat for 8-10 minutes or until meat is cooked and glaze is caramelised on each side.
  • Turn frequently and baste once with marinade. Serve hot or cold.

(adapted from NZ Beef & Lamb recipe (

Posted on March 19, 2010 at 8:06 am by Brigid · Permalink
In: Recipes, Meat · Tagged with: , , , , ,

One Response to “Cooking spare ribs – a few recipes to try”

  1. egypt - April 2, 2011

    Hi Brigid,
    how are you?
    do you have time for me to ask a few questions about your book?

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