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Classic BBQ Ribs Recipe


Nothing beats the taste of classic BBQ ribs, whether they are baby back or spare ribs. This recipe combines a flavorful dry rub with a delicious homemade BBQ sauce to create tender, smoky ribs that fall off the bone. Perfect for summer cookouts or any time you crave that BBQ flavor.



For the Ribs:

  • 2 racks of pork ribs (baby back or spare ribs)
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for extra heat)
  • 1 cup apple juice or apple cider vinegar (for basting)

For the BBQ Sauce:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Step 1: Prepare the Ribs

  1. Remove the Membrane:
    • Using a paper towel, remove the thin membrane from the back of the ribs for more tender meat and better flavor absorption.
  2. Apply the Dry Rub:
    • In a bowl, mix the paprika, brown sugar, black pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper (if using).
    • Rub this mixture evenly over both sides of the ribs. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Step 2: Preheat the Grill or Oven

  1. For Grilling:
    • Preheat your grill to 225°F (110°C). Set it up for indirect cooking by placing coals on one side and leaving the other side empty.
  2. For Baking:
    • Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top.

Step 3: Cook the Ribs

  1. For Grilling:
    • Place the ribs bone-side down on the cooler side of the grill. Close the lid and cook for 2.5 to 3 hours, basting with apple juice or apple cider vinegar every 30 minutes.
  2. For Baking:
    • Place the ribs bone-side down on the wire rack. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake for 2.5 to 3 hours, basting with apple juice or apple cider vinegar every 30 minutes.

Step 4: Make the BBQ Sauce

  1. Combine Ingredients:
    • In a medium saucepan, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt.
  2. Simmer:
    • Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until thickened.

Step 5: Finish the Ribs

  1. For Grilling:
    • During the last 30 minutes of cooking, brush the ribs generously with the BBQ sauce. Move the ribs over direct heat and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes per side to caramelize the sauce, being careful not to burn them.
  2. For Baking:
    • During the last 30 minutes of baking, brush the ribs generously with the BBQ sauce. Remove the foil and bake uncovered to caramelize the sauce.

Step 6: Serve

  1. Rest and Serve:
    • Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with additional BBQ sauce on the side.

Cooking Notes and Tips

  • Slow and Low: The key to tender, juicy ribs is to cook them low and slow. This allows the connective tissues to break down without drying out the meat.
  • Smoker Option: If you have a smoker, consider using it to infuse the ribs with a rich, smoky flavor. Follow the same temperature guidelines.
  • Sauce Variations: Feel free to customize the BBQ sauce with additional ingredients like honey, hot sauce, or mustard for a unique flavor.


Spicy BBQ Ribs

  • Ingredients: Add extra cayenne pepper to the dry rub and hot sauce to the BBQ sauce for a spicier kick.

Honey BBQ Ribs

  • Ingredients: Substitute half of the brown sugar in the BBQ sauce with honey for a sweeter flavor.

Serving Suggestions

  • Sides: Serve these ribs with classic BBQ sides like coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread, or potato salad.
  • Beverages: Pair with a cold beer, sweet tea, or a refreshing lemonade.


Q: Can I cook the ribs in a slow cooker? A: Yes, you can cook the ribs in a slow cooker. Place the ribs in the slow cooker, add 1 cup of apple juice or apple cider vinegar, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Finish by brushing with BBQ sauce and broiling in the oven for a few minutes to caramelize the sauce.


Q: How do I store leftover ribs? A: Store leftover ribs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until heated through.


Q: Can I freeze cooked ribs? A: Yes, cooked ribs can be frozen. Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and place in a freezer-safe bag. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.


Classic BBQ ribs are a timeless dish that brings the flavors of summer to your table. With a perfect blend of spices and a rich, tangy BBQ sauce, these ribs are sure to be a hit at any gathering. Enjoy the process of making these delicious ribs and savor every bite