Easy Backyard Spare Ribs Recipe

You don't need an elaborate setup to achieve barbecue perfection at home.
June 12, 2019, 12:00pm
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 5 hours


for the marinade:
2 cups ginger ale or ginger beer
2 cups orange juice
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 (1-ounce) packet dry ranch-flavored salad dressing mix

for the rub:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons mustard powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne


for the barbecue sauce:
2 cups ketchup
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

for the ribs:
4 racks St. Louis-style spareribs
1 recipe rib marinade
3 cups Jack's Old South Original Rub recipe or make your own (or buy one you like)
1 recipe Jack's Old South Hickory Sauce or make your own (or buy one you like)


1. Make the marinade: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir well to thoroughly incorporate. Pour into a quart-size container and store, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Shake well before using.

2. Make the rub: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely, but it'll begin to lose its strength after about 3 months - and if I had any left after 6 months, I'd make a new batch.

3. Make the barbecue sauce: Combine all ingredients in the base of a blender; pulse until thoroughly combined. Pour into a medium pot. Over medium heat, stir continuously until the sauce is heated through. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and use the sauce immediately, while hot. If reserving for later use, allow the mixture to cool, then pour it into a large bottle or container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.


4. Make sure your ribs are trimmed of all fat and are as uniform as possible in length, which you should've asked your butcher to do for you already. There should be no "silver" membrane on the back of them, either.

5. Set the racks of ribs in an aluminum baking pan and cover them completely with the marinade. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

6. When you are ready to cook the ribs, remove them from the marinade. Pat them dry with paper towels. Apply the rub lightly around the edges of the ribs, over the backs of them, and all over the tops. Then let the ribs sit uncovered at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour.

7. Prepare your smoker or grill and heat it to 275°F. (If using a grill, build a pile of coals on one side of the grill and ignite them; you'll cook on the other side of the grill. If you want to add smoke, soak wood chips overnight and scatter over your coals right before you put the meat on.)

8. Transfer the ribs to a clean aluminum baking pan. Put the pan in the smoker or grill and smoke the ribs for 3 hours. After 3 hours, remove the pan from the smoker. Pour about a cup of water into a clean aluminum baking pan. Place the ribs in the new pan, bone side down, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the smoker or grill and smoke the ribs for 2 hours.

9. Remove the pan from the smoker and shut off the heat in the smoker. Remove the foil from the rib pan and apply the sauce to the front and back of the slabs. Cover the pan with the foil again, return it to the smoker or grill, and let the ribs rest in the smoker or grill as the heat dies down, for 1 hour.

10. Remove the ribs from the pan and transfer them to a clean cutting board. Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes, uncovered. Cut the ribs to separate them, then serve immediately.

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