Kansas City Spareribs

  • Yield 8 servings

Sticky, sweet and a little heat are hallmarks of Kansas City–style ribs.

High Cotton Food Styling & Photography


Kansas City Sweet Rub:
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup paprika
2 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 large racks spareribs (about 9 pounds), membranes removed
Kansas City Sweet and Hot Barbecue Sauce:
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 -- garlic clove, mashed
1/4 cup prepared chili sauce
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups oak or hickory chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and drained


  1. To prepare rub, combine all ingredients in a small bowl until well mixed. 
  2. To prepare ribs, sprinkle 2/3 cup rub evenly over ribs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Store leftover run in an airtight container at room temperature. 
  3. Unwrap ribs and sprinkle all over with half the remaining rub. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
  4. To prepare sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir and cook until sugar and butter melt and sauce is well blended. Simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, about 20 minutes. Use warm or cold. This will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 2 weeks. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
  5. Set up the grill for indirect grilling. Oil the grate.
  6. Add wood chips to the fire. Arrange ribs on grill away from heat, close lid and cook about 2 hours, maintaining a temperature in grill of around 275F. Add more wood chips every 30 minutes. After 2 hours, sprinkle ribs with remaining rub. Continue cooking about 1 hour longer.
  7. Start brushing with sauce every 5 to 10 minutes. Slather it on thickly; you’ll need about 1 1/2 cups. Cook another 30 minutes. Lift one rack of ribs with tongs. If it droops, the ribs should be done.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Fred Thompson's Barbecue Nation: 350 Hot-Off-the-Grill, Tried-and-True Recipes from America's Backyard (Taunton Press, 2007).



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