Chinese BBQ Ribs

This post is sponsored by the National Pork Board. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Delicious, fall-off-the-bone tender, and finger-licking good Chinese BBQ ribs are the way to shake things up for the holidays and other special occasions. Plus, they make delightful leftovers if you’re lucky enough to have any left! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Slow roast BBQ ribs

Whenever I talk to anybody about Chinese food, by far, the most adored option seems to be Char siu pork, or Chinese BBQ pork. Everyone loves this dim sum classic with tender meat coated in a sweet savory sticky glaze.

This recipe was inspired by the dim sum classic char siu pork. The main difference is that we’ll be using pork ribs instead of pork loin and a honey BBQ sauce which creates a much more festive appearance. You’ll love Chinese BBQ ribs for an appetizer treat or a centerpiece during the holidays!

Why this recipe

If you’ve tried my char siu pork recipe, you’ll find the difference between that and my Chinese BBQ ribs is that ribs don’t require maltose, which is a specialty ingredient commonly used to give char siu pork that sticky glaze everyone loves. Because I used a different roasting method, you can use honey instead of maltose. Yet, you’ll still get a wonderful glossy glaze that you’ll love licking off your fingers. It’s so good!

Frankly, I love the Chinese BBQ ribs even more than regular char siu pork, because the ribs have a good amount of marbling that results in an extra moist and tender result. The meat that’s closer to the bones is also tastier. Once I’m done roasting, I literally cannot cut the meat without it falling apart, because it’s SO TENDER.

While the slow roasting process does take some time, the recipe itself is super easy to put together. You’ll be able to bring your favorite Chinese restaurant dish of Chinese BBQ ribs to your home, and it’ll taste even better than takeout. 

Chinese BBQ ribs with sauce

Ingredients

All you need is a rack of ribs, a spice mix and a BBQ sauce.

For the ribs, I used St Luis ribs, but baby back ribs and spare ribs should work as well. When you’re shopping for the cut, try to find a piece that is well marbled with an evenly distributed meat layer that is not too thin or too thick. This will guarantee the best result.

The rest of the ingredients are quite common and you should be able to find them at regular grocery stores.

Ingredients for making Chinese BBQ ribs

How to make Chinese BBQ ribs

This recipe uses a low-temperature slow roasting in the beginning, with the ribs wrapped in the foil. Once the ribs turn super tender, you will roast them at a higher temperature to create the glossy glaze. No marinating needed, yet you will get the most flavorful ribs ever!

  1. Mix the BBQ sauce
  2. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs (Optional, for a better mouthfeel)
  3. Coat both sides of the ribs with the dry rub
  4. Brush a thin layer of the BBQ sauce onto the ribs
  5. Carefully wrap the ribs in foil and make sure to seal all sides, roast at low temperature
  6. Once the ribs are done, brush with the sauce again
  7. Roast at a higher temperature so the glaze turns sticky
  8. Rest for 10 mins. And you can further glaze it with the rest of the sauce before serving

Once you’re done roasting, the outer layer of the ribs will form a slightly firm and sticky shiny glaze, and the inside is so tender that you won’t even need a knife to cut it.

How to make Chinese BBQ ribs step-by-step
Chinese BBQ ribs close-up

Afterthought 

This holiday season, you can use pork as a way to transport you and your family to a new cultural experience, even if you aren’t able to travel. Plus, pork is such a simple and delicious pleasure. In this recipe, it simply melts in your mouth with a sticky texture and tender meat flavor that really helps you connect in that moment. Lose yourself in the moment with Chinese BBQ ribs for a new holiday tradition. 

Glazy BBQ ribs

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Delicious, fall-off-the-bone tender, and finger-licking good Chinese BBQ ribs are the way to shake things up for the holidays and other special occasions. Plus, they make delightful leftovers if you’re lucky enough to have any left! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}
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Chinese BBQ Ribs

Delicious, fall-off-the-bone tender, and finger-licking good Chinese BBQ ribs are the way to shake things up for the holidays and other special occasions. Plus, they make delightful leftovers if you’re lucky enough to have any left! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}
To make this dish gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce and dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine. Also make sure you get gluten-free oyster sauce and hoisin sauce.
Course Appetizer, Main
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword restaurant-style
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 4 to 6 servings
Calories 365kcal
Author Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

  • 1 rack (2.5 to 4 lbs) pork ribs (the one I used was about 3 lbs / 1.4 kg)

Dry Rub

  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon gochugaru (or chile powder) (*Footnote 1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder

BBQ Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic , grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • 6 to 10 drops red food coloring (optional)

Instructions

  • (Optional) Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs by loosening one end with a knife, and then tearing it away.
  • Prepare a large piece of foil (at least 2” / 5 cm bigger than the ribs on all sides) to layer over a baking sheet. Place the ribs back side up onto the foil.
  • Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle evenly over the back of the ribs and rub in. Flip the ribs and sprinkle on the top side, rub in the spice again. Set aside to marinate briefly while preheating the oven to 275°F (135°C).
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Mix well.
  • Once the oven is heated, brush a thin layer of sauce all over the ribs.
  • Place another piece of foil over the top. Crimp the bottom foil over the top foil and fold a few times to create a sealed parcel.
  • Place the ribs in the oven and bake for 2 to 3 hours depending on their size (*Footnote 2). Once done, you can use a thermometer or a fork to poke through the foil to test the doneness. The meat should feel very tender or read at least 160°F/71°C.
  • While cooking, prepare a baking tray lined with foil (or parchment paper) and a rack on top.
  • Remove the ribs from the oven and turn the heat up to 450°F (230°C).
  • Carefully open the parcel and move the ribs to the prepared baking tray. You might need to use 2 spatulas to help with this step because the ribs are extremely tender and might fall apart.
  • Generously brush the top and back of the ribs with the sauce, leaving a few tablespoons for after cooking.
  • Return the ribs to the oven and bake until beginning to char, 10 to 15 minutes. Check on the ribs every 5 minutes to prevent them from burning.
  • Remove the ribs from the oven and brush with a thin layer of sauce. Let cool for 10 minutes then slice the ribs and serve hot with the remaining sauce.

Notes

  1. I used finely ground gochugaru because it gives the meat an extra red color and it’s not too spicy. You can use other types of chile powder as well. It’s OK to use chile flakes (coarser than chile powder) and it will give the rib surface a slightly different look.
  2. Depending on the size of the ribs, the roasting time varies. I used a 3-pound rack of ribs and I roasted 2 hours and 40 mins. For under 3 pounds, roast 2 hours, and for 3.5 to 4 pounds, roast 3 hours. You can use a thermometer poked through the foil to test the temperature, but you can actually feel the doneness using a fork. The ribs should be super tender before roasting at 450°F.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.4g | Protein: 30.5g | Fat: 20.3g | Saturated Fat: 7.2g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 631mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 11.6g | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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5 thoughts on “Chinese BBQ Ribs

    1. Maggie

      This post contains some inspo: https://omnivorescookbook.com/20-asian-side-dishes
      I think a fried rice is great because it’s super simple and can be make ahead. A simple noodle dish is great as well.
      I would also do a green veggie dish (stir fry or a pickle) to add color to the table.
      If you have extra time, you can also make potstickers or fried egg rolls (make ahead and cook before serving). Both are quite labor intensive but very festive.
      https://omnivorescookbook.com/chinese-egg-rolls/
      http://omnivorescookbook.com/beef-dumplings/

      Reply
    1. Maggie

      Hi Brian, it’s the best to replace the guchugaru flakes with any other type of chili powder.
      Because it’s a dry rub, it’s hard to replace it with gochugaru paste without affecting its texture (it will stick together with other ground ingredients and hard to rub evenly).

      Reply