Get grillin' with this recipe for BBQ spare ribs and a very special secret sauce from our very own Chef Gilligan!

Summertime is finally here - what better way to celebrate than with some positively tantalizing BBQ ribs?!

Even better, Chef Gilligan is sharing how to whip up his secret sauce.

There are three different ways you can put this tasty dish together. 

BBQ Spare Ribs recipe


  • 3 pounds of pork spareribs cut into two rib pieces
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 quart of the secret barbecue sauce

Oven Method:

Salt and pepper the ribs. 

Place the ribs in a roasting pan with the inside of the ribs down.

Place the ribs in a 300-degree F oven until browned (about 1 hour). 

Drain fat from pan. 

Spoon about 1 cup of the sauce over the ribs to coat them with a thin layer. 

Turn the ribs over and coat with more sauce. 

Bake 45 minutes. 

Turn and coat the ribs with the remaining sauce. 

Bake until tender (about 40-60 minutes more). 

Slow Cooker / Crock Pot method:

Salt and pepper the ribs. 

Brown the ribs in a skillet over medium-low heat. 

Pour enough sauce in the crockpot to cover the bottom. 

Put one layer of ribs in the cooker and pour a thin layer of sauce over the ribs. 

Put one more layer of ribs in the cooker and pour a thin layer over those. 

Continue layering until all the ribs are in the cooker. 

Pour the remaining sauce over the ribs. 

Cook on high heat for one hour. 

Turn heat down to low and cook for about 6 hours or until very tender. 

Boiling method (Spareribs are sometimes boiled and it does speed up the cooking time):

Place the ribs in a large stockpot and cover with boiling water. 

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the ribs are tender. 

Drain and place ribs in a shallow or low roasting pan. 

Pour my secret barbecue sauce over the ribs, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. 

Drain excess sauce into a bowl (do not leave excess sauce on the ribs or they may burn while grilling.)

Grill ribs for 30 minutes, basting with the sauce frequently the last 15 minutes of cooking. 

The Secret Sauce

And now for the sauce to make your ribs stand out! Whatever you wish to grill or barbecue, this sauce recipe is what you need to please your palate.

The restaurant recipe was developed by me and one of my chefs a number of years ago and has been a favorite restaurant recipe ever since. I even have restaurant guests who request to buy it in bulk for use at home.

Now they, and you can make this secret restaurant recipe at home.

Secret Sauce Ingredients (makes one quart): 

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cups of tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons A-1 Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Heinz 57 Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Cayenne to taste (optional – start with 1 teaspoon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a large sauté pan or saucepan over low heat. 

Add butter and onions and cook until the onions are soft. 

Add all other ingredients, turn heat up to medium-low and bring to a boil. 

Turn heat down to low and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes, until flavors blend. 

Remove from heat, taste and correct seasoning. 

Store in the refrigerator uncovered until cool and then cover or use immediately. 

To thin the sauce, use any of the following: water, beef or chicken stock, white or cider vinegar, apple juice, wine or beer.

To thicken the sauce, mix 1/4 cup cold water or other liquid (above) with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and add to the sauce a little at a time until you have achieved the correct consistency.

*Originally published in August 2016. Updated in 2023.