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Being from Kansas City, not much beats a good barbecue rib. Burnt ends, sure, but when it comes to ribs, around here, it’s usually barbecue. Now, I love barbecue ribs, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I really want to take it up a few notches and to do that, I have to get spicy. That’s when these spicy-as-heck sticky ribs come in.
Why spicy-as-heck? Because you’re using a whole heck of a lot of hot sauce on them. And why sticky? Because to offset all of that spice, you have to have a little bit of sweet, and that comes in the form of brown sugar that caramelizes on the ribs and makes these stick to your fingers (in the best way… you’ll be licking them clean, trust me). You can bake these in your oven or toss them on the grill and have these spicy ribs practically falling off of the bone.
To make these spicy-as-heck sticky ribs, you’ll obviously need some good pork ribs. I like baby back ribs, but you can get a full slab or whatever floats your boat. The thing about ribs is that it’s hard to pinpoint a recipe… I can’t tell you to use a quarter cup of brown sugar if I’ve got baby back and you’ve got a slab because that won’t work. And I can’t tell you to use a certain amount of hot sauce if you like it a little spicier than I do. Follow the pictures, and you’ll get a great tasting rib every time.
To start, you need to remove the membrane on your ribs. Just slice and peel back the membrane to expose the meat. Rub your ribs with garlic, steak seasoning, a little bit of salt, and some onion powder. Next, slather the ribs in hot sauce. You can use your favorite brand, but really coat it on. If the bottle says you need a drop to give it some heat, use a quarter of a bottle. Trust me, you’re going to want these spicy. Spread the hot sauce over the ribs, then cover the spicy ribs in brown sugar.
Keep in mind, not all of this will actually be left on the rib– this is your rub and marinade, and you’re going to wrap it completely in plastic wrap and stick it in your fridge overnight (or at least for several hours). That gives your hot sauce plenty of time to really penetrate the rib meat and give it that kick it needs.
To cook your ribs in the oven, place a cooking rack on a non-stick baking sheet. Set the oven to broil, and place your ribs on the rack. Broil them for 5 minutes, turn them over, and broil them for another 5 minutes. The cooking rack will allow for some of the heat to fully circulate around the ribs, but broiling on both sides gets you that crispier exterior that really holds in the juices from the ribs. Pull the ribs out and adjust the oven temperature to 200. Yes, you really do want it that low, because you’re going to cook the meat low and slow for 3-4 hours, depending on the size of the ribs you purchased.
Give the ribs a good coat of garlic, onion powder, steak seasoning, and a dash of salt, then add more hot sauce and more brown sugar. Place them in the oven and bake them.
Every hour to every hour and a half, pull the spicy ribs out and brush them with more hot sauce. After about 2-3 hours, pull the ribs out and brush them one last time. Rub the ribs with a final coat of brown sugar, and raise the temperature to 250. The low temperature before helped the ribs cook at a nice, slow temperature, but this final boost will heat the meat enough to get those connective tissues to break down, giving you the fall-off-the-bone tenderness you’re going for.
Bake the ribs at 250 for another hour, until the meat pulls back from the bones slightly. When you see that happen, the ribs are done, so pull them out of the oven.
After letting the ribs sit for about 5 minutes, it’s time to cut them. Serve with extra hot sauce for the daring times, and ranch dressing for the mild types who may need a little bit of cooling to make it happen.
These ribs are the perfect blend of spicy and sweet. You’ve got that really big KICK from your hot sauce, and then a great sweet, sticky exterior from the brown sugar. You’re going to want to be sure you’re using a strong hot sauce– varieties that have aged peppers and vinegar are great because the vinegar will help break down the meat while the peppers add spice, but you can go for something like sriracha or buffalo sauce, also. Basically, the idea is just to get nice and spicy, then tame it with the brown sugar to give it that stickiness.
These sweet and spicy ribs are the perfect pick for game day and tailgates, but they’re easy enough to make on any weekend you want some good classic ribs. If you’re going to grill or smoke them, use your favorite grilling and smoking method for the best result.
Sweet and Spicy Ribs Recipe
- Pork Ribs
- Garlic (at least 1 clove per rib, divided)
- Steak Seasoning (at least 1 teaspoon per rib, divided)
- Salt (to taste)
- Onion Powder (at least 1 teaspoon per rib, divided)
- Hot Sauce (hot sauce, sriracha, and buffalo sauce all work well, 1 Tablespoon per rib, divided)
- Brown Sugar (2 Tablespoons per rib, divided)
- Rub pork ribs with ¼ of the garlic, steak seasoning, salt, and onion powder. Slather in ¼ of the hot sauce, then rub in ¼ of the brown sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Place ribs on cooking rack on baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes on each side.
- Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees.
- Brush pork ribs with ½ of the garlic, steak seasoning, salt, and onion powder. Slather with ¼ of the hot sauce, then rub on ½ of the brown sugar. Bake for 2-3 hours, removing every hour to brush with more hot sauce.
- Remove ribs from oven, raise temperature to 250 degrees.
- Rub ribs with remaining garlic, steak seasoning, salt, and onion powder. Slather with remaining hot sauce and rub with remaining brown sugar. Bake one hour.
- Let rest for 5-10 minutes, then cut ribs apart and serve hot.
What is your favorite way to eat ribs?
Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget that if you really want to try this spicy-as-heck recipe, you can pin it on Pinterest for later!
Tools for Great Spicy-As-Heck Ribs
The perfect-sized baking sheet for ribs
A cooking rack that fits on the baking sheet perfectly
Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom from Andy Husbands and Chris Hart
You can order some of the ingredients in this recipe, like hot sauce, from PrimePantry without even leaving the house!