Main course

Sticky barbecue ribs

For barbecue ribs to end up in their de facto home of the United States, first of all, there has to be pigs.

Pigs are not native to the Americas. Domestic pigs are derived from the Eurasian wild pigs (boar) that have roamed the forests of Europe for half a million years. About 9,000 years ago, humans worked out how to keep pigs, and progressively bread the anger out of them until they became the pink, docile creatures they are today.

When colonists first stumbled on the Americas (apparently by accident), pigs were shipped along as a source of food. Quite what the hold of the ships might have smelled like is beyond imagination. Pigs were on the ship of Christopher Colombus in 1493. However, it was Hernando de Soto who landed in Tampa Bay, FL in 1539 with America’s first 13 pigs.

Hernando de Soto (c1500–1542)

de Soto’s pigs bred, escaped and bred again until America had a decent stock of both domestic and re-wilded pigs.

While the pig can yield many great cuts and offal, in summer, the king of all pork dishes has to be barbecue ribs. Ribs require a slow pre-cook in some kind of liquid before glazing and finishing over the flame. The glaze is critical to the final flavour, and The Nosey Chef has spent some time comparing a lot of glaze recipes to work out the basics. Essentially, most glaze recipes have a tomato ketchup base to which brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce are added. From there on, it is wide open for addition of soy sauce, paprika chilli, garlic, vinegar, more sugar, lime, lemon, herbs … the list is endless.

The recipe given here is adapted from that of the BBC’s Sarah Cook, and uses a lot of sugar to create a very sticky glaze.

Sticky barbecue ribs

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Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 4 hours


  • For the ribs:
  • 1kg rack of pork ribs
  • 3 tins of Coca-Cola
  • For the glaze:
  • 120ml tomato ketchup
  • 8 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy cause
  • 2 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the dip:
  • 300ml creme fraiche
  • 2 tbsp Heinz salad cream
  • Bunch of chives, snipped
  • 6 spring onions, sliced
  • To finish:
  • Handful of sesame seeds
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped


For the ribs:


Heat an oven to 160˚C.


Cut the rib racks into pieces able to fit in your roasting tin. Pour in the Coca-Cola and top up with water to cover the meat.


Place the tin in the oven for 2–3 hours, turning once halfway through. Remove and drain.

For the glaze:


Combine all the ingredients in a pan and heat until gently bubbling to dissolve the sugar. Cool.


once cool, smother the ribs in the glaze and refrigerate for 1 hour to marinate.

For the dip:


Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Easy.



Heat an outdoor grill on high and cook the ribs until staring to char, turning regularly. Remove the cooked ribs to a chopping board and separate each rib with a sharp knife.


Scatter over with the parsley and sesame and serve with the chive dip.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    18/07/2022 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the sticky barbecue ribs recipe.

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