Recipe: Kansas City Barbecued Ribs

by James T. Gibson

Kansas City RibsWhat says summer barbecue more than a rack of Kansas City style baby back ribs? This recipe offers the best of all worlds -- you have a great, classic dry rub and a fantastic, spicy sauce for dipping.

This dish adds pizazz to your summer parties. Serve it with with traditional side dishes like pasta salad, coleslaw and cold watermelon.

Kansas City rib sauce, a classic tomato-based barbecue sauce, turns beef or pork ribs into that sweet, sticky, delicious tidbit you're looking for. Fire up the grill. It's time to start a taste sensation!

Kansas City Barbecued Ribs

Prep time: 30 minutes | Total time: 6 hours | Yield: 2 to 3 servings per slab as a main dish


• 2 to 4 slabs pork spare ribs, about 3 pounds each
• Spicy Rub, recipe below
• Kansas City Barbecue Sauce, recipe below

For the Spicy Rub
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon onion powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
• 1/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
• 1 tablespoon chili powder or seasoning
• 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed dried sage
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
• Pinch ground cloves

For the Kansas City Rib Sauce
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 1 small onion, finely diced
• 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar; more to taste
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
• 1 tablespoon chili powder or seasoning
• 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
• 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
• 2 gloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons honey or molasses
• 2 cups tomato sauce


Make the rub: Spread the brown sugar on a cookie sheet and allow to dry for an hour to prevent clumping. (You can prepare the sauce while it dries.) In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, seasoning and salt and pepper.

Make the sauce: In a sauce pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until translucent.

In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix together. Add to the sauce pan and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Set aside some in a small container for glazing. Pour the remainder in a serving container.

Prepare the ribs: Remove the thick, white membrane covering the bone side of the slab. Trim off any loose fat and membrane. Sprinkle the spice rub over both sides or the ribs. Massage and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

Prepare the grill. Cook the ribs for about 2 hours, maintaining a temperature of 230° to 250°. After 2 hours, turn the ribs over. Add more coals or hardwood. Continue cooking another 2 hours. If you want to glaze the meat, brush it on both sides with barbecue sauce twice during the last half hour of cooking.

When meat is done to perfection, you should be able to easily pull the a rib away.

Remove the ribs from the grill and let them sit for 10 minutes. Cut the slabs into individual ribs and serve hot with extra barbecue sauce on the side.

Cook's Note

If you don't have access to a grill, you can still enjoy barbecued ribs. Preheat your oven to 425°. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place the prepared spareribs on the baking sheets. Bake, uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour off the juices.

Lower the heat to 350° Cover the ribs and bake another 1 1/2 hours or until tender. During the last half hour of cooking, uncover and brush the ribs with sauce every 10 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve hot with the extra barbecue sauce.

What kind of finger-licking sauce do you use?