These sticky pork ribs are oven-baked in a spicy honey, chilli and garlic marinade making them juicy and fall-apart tender. For maximum flavour, cut the rack into individual riblets before covering them with the marinade.
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Sticky oven-baked pork spare ribs
When I lived in South Africa, I used to make these pork spare ribs on the barbeque. They were cooked on the barbeque as a whole rack which was placed at the edge of the barbeque, away from the direct heat in the center, so that they could cook slowly. The sticky honey glaze caramelised beautifully and the meat was cooked to melt-in-the-mouth tender perfection.
Since coming to England and having to deal with the unpredictable weather, I’ve adapted the recipe to bake these ribs in the oven.
I cut the rack into individual ribs and marinate them in a special homemade rib marinade for at least half an hour to let all the flavours sink into the meat. The cornflour in the marinade acts as a tenderiser and helps to keep the meat soft and juicy. And the combination of honey, garlic, soy, and chilli provides the special taste.
If you look at the recipe you will see that these ribs take almost 2 hours to cook. Don’t let that put you off. The actual preparation time is only about 10 minutes. The rest of the time is hands-off – half an hour to marinate, and the rest of the time in the oven.
What you will need
You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions on how to make these sticky pork spare ribs on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
This recipe is sufficient for 4 people.
- 1.8kg pork spare ribs (or 4 pounds) cut into individual ribs. 1 rack provides 10 – 12 ribs, depending on how it has been trimmed by the butcher. You should allow for 450g (1 pound) of spare ribs per person. This takes into account the high bone content of a rack of ribs.
- Soy sauce – this is good quality dark soy sauce.
- Tomato puree – this is normally sold in tubes or small cans in the UK. You may also know it as tomato paste. Not to be confused with tomato sauce or ketchup.
- Honey – provides sweetness (and the stickiness 🙂 )
- Chilli – this is where the spiciness comes from. You can use chilli paste, chopped chillis from a jar, or even chop up a fresh bird’s eye chilli and use that. Use your own judgement as far as the amount of chilli is concerned – some people prefer more chilli than others.
- Cornflour (or cornstarch) – this helps to tenderise the ribs.
- Garlic – you can use finely minced fresh garlic cloves, or for convenience, you can use ready minced garlic from a jar.
- Sunflower oil – because this is added to the marinade, there is no need to use extra oil when baking the pork ribs.
- Salt and black pepper – for seasoning – use to your own taste.
How to make oven-baked sticky pork ribs
The first thing you need to do is to cut the ribs into individual riblets and get them into the marinade.
Combine all the marinade ingredients into a large bowl.
Add the ribs and mix well to coat them in the marinade.
Arrange the ribs in a baking tray. Pour over any remaining marinade.
If you want to save on washing up, you could line the baking tray with tinfoil before adding the ribs.
Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator to marinade for at least half an hour.
Cover the baking tray with tinfoil. Make sure to wrap the edges of tinfoil tightly around the edges of the baking dish so that the steam does not escape.
Place the baking dish in a pre-heated medium hot oven (170C / 340F) for 1 hour. Resist the temptation to open the tinfoil and peek. You want the ribs to cook slowly inside the sealed dish and opening the tinfoil will allow the steam to escape.
For those of you with an oven thermometer, the ribs will be fully cooked once the internal temperature reaches 63C / 145F. However, as there is a lot of connective tissue in spare ribs, they may still be tough at this point. At 88C / 190F internal temperature, the fat and collagen in the meat start to break down and the meat becomes more tender.
Allow the ribs to brown
Once the hour is up, remove the baking dish from the oven and turn the heat up to grill (or broil).
Remove the tinfoil lid – be careful there will be a lot of hot steam inside. Baste the ribs with the juices in the baking dish and brown them (turning occasionally) under the hot grill.
If the weather permits, you could even brown them on the barbeque, using the cooking juices as a basting sauce.
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Save time and freeze them
If you want to save time, you can follow the recipe up to the point where the ribs have been coated with the marinade. Then just transfer the ribs and marinade into a strong plastic freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to use them, let the ribs defrost in the refrigerator and then bake them as per the recipe instructions.
How to reheat
If you have any leftovers, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
To reheat them, spread them on a baking tray and place them in a hot oven for about 10 minutes until the ribs are heated through.
You can also reheat them in the microwave on full power for about 3 minutes.
Pin for later
Why not pin this recipe for pork ribs so you can make it later.
If you enjoyed these pork spare ribs you may also enjoy these other barbeque dishes.
- Chicken skewers with bacon
- Chicken wings
- Barbeque lamb chops with minted yoghurt marinade
- Barbeque chicken South African style
… and to serve with them …
- Sweetcorn fritters with cheese
- Scalloped potatoes
- Crispy fries
- Orzo pasta summer salad
- Potato salad with homemade mayonnaise
- Copper penny salad (sweet and sour carrots)
- Tomato and onion pasta salad
Sticky oven-baked pork spare ribs with honey glaze
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- 4 lb / 1.8 kg Pork spare ribs
- 6 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons sunflower oil
- 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chilli paste more or less, according to your own taste
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 Tablespoons cornflour
- Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a large mixing bowl6 Tablespoons soy sauce, 4 Tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 Tablespoons sunflower oil, 4 Tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon chilli paste, 2 cloves garlic, 2 Tablespoons cornflour
- Using a sharp knife, cut between the bones of the ribs to separate them4 lb / 1.8 kg Pork spare ribs
- Add the ribs to the marinade and mix well to coat thoroughly.
- Cover and leave to marinade for at least half-an-hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 170°C/340°F
- Line a large baking dish with tinfoil and arrange the ribs in the dish in a single layer.
- Cover tightly with another layer of tin-foil.
- Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 1 hour
- Remove the pan from the oven and turn the heat up to grill.
- Remove the tinfoil lid and baste the ribs with the cooking juices
- Place the ribs under the grill for a few minutes to brown, turning occasionally.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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