Barbecued Spare Ribs

By Angela Patel

There are three simple steps to getting the most meltingly tender American-style barbecued spare ribs. The first is to marinate them in a flavoursome dry rub blend of brown sugar, salt, pepper and spices. The second is to cook them slowly in a low oven until the meat is almost falling off the bones, and the third is to smother them in a tangy home-made barbecue sauce and cook for a few minutes on a hot barbecue to give them that delicious smoky char-grilled flavour.

This may seem a little time-consuming, but all the effort will be well worth it, I promise.

Kitchen tools needed:

Cole & Mason London Salt and Pepper Mills in Acrylic

Cole & Mason Worcester Pestle & Mortar

Prep: 30 mins, plus marinating time

Cook:  2-2 ½  hrs

Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 4


1.5 kg baby back ribs (2 or 3 short racks)


  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper



  • 150g tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the ribs in a large shallow dish. To make the dry rub, finely crush the chilli flakes and cumin seeds using the Cole & Mason pestle & mortar. Place in a bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Spread the dry rub all over the ribs, rubbing it into the meat on both sides with your fingertips.  Cover with cling film. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/Gas Mark 3. Remove the ribs from the fridge and stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Line a large shallow roasting tin with a large sheet of foil allowing the excess to hang over the sides of the tin. Place the ribs in a single layer in the tin, then completely enclose with the excess foil, sealing the edges well.  Bake the ribs for 2 -2 1/2 hours until very tender (see Tips).
  5. Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and set aside (see Tips).
  6. Fire up a coal or gas barbecue. Remove the ribs from the roasting tin and place on the barbecue. Brush liberally with the barbecue sauce and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning once or twice, until char-grilled, brushing with extra barbecue sauce, as needed.
  7. Pour any meat juices from the roasting tin into the pan with the any remaining barbecue sauce and reheat gently for 4-5 minutes. Garnish the ribs with shredded spring onion. Serve with the hot barbecue sauce and barbecued corn cobs, if liked.



  • This amount of rub is just enough for 1.5kg of ribs but you can make up double quantity and store the rest in an airtight jar for use another day. The rub is also delicious on oven roast pork chops or gammon or beef joints.
  • The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the ribs. Check after 2 hours - the flesh comes away easily from the bone when pushed with the tip of a knife.
  • The barbecue sauce can be made a day in advance. Cool completely then transfer to a bowl, cover and chill in the fridge until required.
  • You can finish the ribs in a hot oven or under a hot grill instead of barbecuing. Place the ribs on a wire rack set over a shallow oven tray, brush with the sauce and return to a hot oven for 10-15 minutes or cook under a medium-hot grill for 8-10 minutes, turning once.


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