Sweet and Saucy Spare Ribs

Ribs are a great crowd pleaser, perfect for parties and gatherings at home.

In this recipe, we wrap with foil, part way through the cook (This is known as “The Texas Crutch” and is common practice in competition cooking) – You can cook great ribs without wrapping, but for this recipe, we highly recommend it, for getting super-tender, sweet and sticky ribs!

You can also use baby back ribs with this recipe, which will take less time to cook, but we prefer the extra meatiness you get on spares.


  • 2 racks of spare ribs
  • Light olive oil
  • Honey
  • Butter
  • Demerara sugar
  • Apple juice


  • ½ cup demerara sugar
  • ¼ cup sweet Spanish paprika
  • 3 tablespoons Maldon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon medium chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic granules
  • 1 tablespoon onion granules
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper


  • 1½ cups tomato ketchup
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup demerara sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses/black treacle
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rib rub (above)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup


Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs, using a butter knife and kitchen towel and then trim the rack to your preference. Mix together the rub ingredients. Brush oil lightly on ribs and sprinkle with rub; use about 2 tablespoons per side.  Let sit for half an hour. Store remainder of the rub in a screw top jar for next time.

Bring your BBQ smoker up to 250°F/120°C. Add a couple of fist-sized chunks of hickory and cherry wood. If you don’t have a smoker at home, you can easily follow these instructions using an oven – You just won’t get the smoke flavour.

Once the smoke thins and turns to a tint of blue, place the ribs, with the meat side up, on the grill grate.  After an hour, add another chunk or two of wood and then spritz with the apple juice every 30 minutes, for a further 2 hours.


Set up your foil – Lay two long pieces per rack to prevent tearing.  Sprinkle sugar, drizzle the butter and honey over the centre of each top piece of foil, then carefully remove your ribs from the smoker and lay each rack, meat side down on your drizzle mixture. Spray once more with the apple juice and drizzle the remaining butter, honey, and sugar over the bone side of the ribs. Now, carefully seal the foil around the ribs, being careful not to tear any holes. Return to grill and cook for 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat ingredients over a moderate heat. Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes.  Pour apple juice into a spray bottle; set aside.

Carefully unwrap the ribs. Add some of the liquid in the foil to your sauce and dispose of the foil. Baste the ribs on both sides with the warmed sauce. Return ribs to grill and cook for a further 30 minutes.

With a pair of tongs, carefully pick up your ribs from one end lengthways – If they bend/flop easily they are done; if not, keep them in the cooker. Once cooked, paint your ribs with more sauce and leave to rest for ten minutes.

Slice, serve and get messy!



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