Barbecue Ribs

Pork Spareribs with homemade barbecue sauce in the front, Lloyds Spareribs with Original Sauce behind


Last summer I posted a comparison of store bought and homemade barbecue sauce and I made barbecued chicken to compare the two sauces. Since then, I’ve been meaning to do a comparison of another popular barbecue dish:  Barbecued ribs. Ribs are the ultimate in meaty, flavorful, messy outdoor dining. Their messy stickiness makes ribs a perfect candidate for preparing and eating outside while the robust flavor and texture of the meat pairs very well with traditional grilling side dishes. While I usually buy plain, unflavored pork ribs for grilling, I have noticed the packaged, pre-sauced barbecued ribs in the meat case and wondered if they would be less hassle to prepare. For this comparison, I bought Lloyds spareribs with original barbecue sauce and then made a rack of spareribs marinated in homemade barbecue sauce. I’ve reprinted my recipe for homemade barbecue sauce below as well as outlining the method I used to prepare the ribs, but it’s pretty much just grill ’em till their done!

Barbecue Pork Spareribs

Makes about 4 servings


1 rack pork spareribs (about 3 pounds)

1 recipe homemade barbecue sauce (recipe below)

1. Pour half of the barbecue sauce into a large ziplock bag or a large food container with a tight fitting lid. Add the pork spareribs (you may need to cut the ribs in half to get them to fit) and shake a little bit so that the ribs are well coated with sauce. Marinate the ribs for several hours or overnight.

2. Preheat a grill to medium heat. Add the ribs to the grill, reserving the extra sauce. Cook for about 45 minutes, turning over once, or until the ribs are cooked through and have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Brush the ribs a few times with some of the leftover barbecue sauce as they cook. Check them often to make sure the sauce isn’t burning too badly and turn down the grill a bit if it seems like they are burning.

3. Remove the ribs from the grill, tent them with some foil and let rest for about 10 minutes so that they reabsorb some of the juices. Cut the individual ribs apart and serve with extra barbecue sauce on the side.

Before grilling: Ribs with homemade barbecue sauce on the left, Lloyds pre-sauced ribs on the right

Honey Barbecue Sauce

Makes about 3 cups


1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 15 ounce can tomato puree

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 6 oz. can tomato paste

1/4 cup honey mustard

1/3 cup hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce

2 teaspoons chili powder

1.  Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium pot.  Once oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan (tomato puree through chili powder) and stir until well combined; bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer the sauce until it is thickened, about 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning.


There were four of us tasting the ribs for this comparison and we all came to the same conclusion:  Homemade are best! The store bought ribs weren’t exactly awful, but they definitely lacked the meaty flavor of ribs made from scratch. While the homemade ribs had lots of meat to sink  your teeth into, the pre-seasoned ribs had less meat and what meat they did have was a bit stringy. The sauce on the homemade ribs was also significantly tastier with a depth of flavor that the packaged ribs didn’t measure up to.

Of course, there are always drawbacks to creating flavorful food from scratch and this time the biggest negative is time. While the pre-seasoned, fully cooked ribs took only 15 minutes on the grill, the ribs made with homemade sauce had to be marinated, cooked for much longer and, on top of that, the barbecue sauce takes about half an hour to cook. Much of that time is “passive” cooking since the ribs are marinating or cooking on the grill, but the homemade ribs do take much longer to prepare.

Cost is not as much of a factor in this comparison. Both the homemade ribs (include the sauce made from scratch) and the pre-seasoned ribs cost around $5.00 a pound.

Bottom Line: Preparing pork ribs from scratch with a homemade barbecue sauce is a time consuming process but the results are worth the extra effort! Pre-seasoned, fully cooked ribs, on the other hand, are very fast to cook but are less flavorful and lack the meaty texture of those cooked from scratch.