Sweet and Sour Ribs are sweet, juicy with fall off the bone saucy meat. Massaged in a dry rub before being oven baked then smothered in sauce and grilled they are a deliciously indulgent dish. Easy to make with mouth watering results these sweet and sour pork ribs will make your life complete 😉👍!
The Slow Cooker Lamb Ribs offer a slow cooked ribs recipe with an alternative protein.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Family favourite: these tender baby back ribs are a recipe that the whole family will love to get into! There is no knife and fork needed, simply pick them up and chow on down, licking the sauce off every single finger as you go 😉.
- Non BBQ ribs: if you like to make ribs regularly, it can be nice to have more than one option with BBQ sauce. These sweet and sour pork ribs offer the use of simple ingredients to create an alternative flavour combination than barbecue sauce ribs.
- Chinese inspired recipe: hugely popular sweet and sour recipes are loved by all for their unique balance combining both sweet and sour ingredients. Taking the notion of these flavours to a ribs recipe delivers a depth of flavour with delicious saucy tang about it!
- Taste and texture: the dry rub and sweet and sour sauce both deliver balanced flavour pairings for the sour ribs recipe that taste lip smacking delicious with a tangy sauce!! 😉😍.
- Versatile: be it game day, a BBQ, picnic, the super bowl, party, or dinner, you can serve these golden brown ribs as an appetizer, starter or main.
- Super easy: it takes minutes to combine the ingredients for the dry rub and coat the ribs in them. Once done simply pop them into the oven and let them cook whilst you go about other things!
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Pork ribs: either from your local butcher or supermarket. These are readily available and sold in a pair. You will find the meatier the ribs, the more juicy delicious results the recipe will deliver.
- Brown sugar: a sure fire way to bring the 'sweet' to a ribs dry rub!
- Garlic powder: this can dry out if the bottle is open, sealed, but not used in a while. So keep this in mind so that you don't go to grab it out and then have to pop out again to get another bottle.
- Onion powder: same as the above, a great ingredient, but needs to be used regularly so that the powder doesn't dry into a clump in the bottle.
- Mustard powder: soft and pale yellow in colour, this powder is an excellent choice for seasoning and making dry rubs.
- Paprika: a sweet, mild spice made from dried capsicums. (The 3 types are sweet, smoked or hot).
- Salt and pepper: we use a little of each to season the pork ribs and these get added to the dry rub ingredients.
🍖 Sweet and Sour Sauce for Ribs
- Tomato sauce (ketchup): this is the key ingredient for the sweet and sour sauce.
- Pineapple juice: another ingredient used for ensuring the flavor of the sauce is balanced by sweet and sour notes, we whisk this into the tomato sauce.
- White wine vinegar: a light, lively and bright vinegar with a sweet aroma. You will find it with the other vinegars in the supermarket.
- Worcestershire sauce: this condiment imparts great flavour and oomph to many recipes. Give it a shake before using as some brands have a gritty texture that absorbs when the bottle is shaken.
- Regular soy sauce: regular, not dark or light soy sauce. I also don't recommend the reduced salt versions as I find they lack the distinct flavour of traditional soy sauce.
Tasty Tip: I do offer a number of substitutions and variations to give you options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section before diving into the instructions on how to make the recipe below 👍😉.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by making the dry rub and then removing the membrane from the back of the ribs. You will need a small jug, mini whisk or fork and a chopping board.
- Gather dry rub ingredients (Photo 1)
- Combine them using a mini whisk (Photo 2)
- Gather sweet and sour sauce ingredients (Photo 3)
- Combine them in a jug using a spoon (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Sweet and Sour Ribs
To make the ribs, start by removing the packaging and laying them on a chopping board. Use paper towel to pat them dry. Then make the dry rub.
In a small jug add the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Use a mini whisk to stir these together then set them aside.
Next, make the sweet and sour sauce by combining the tomato sauce (ketchup), pineapple juice, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. Stir these until they are consistently combined, then set them aside.
- Remove membrane (Photo 5)
- Massage dry rub into ribs (Photo 6)
- Place on tray and pour water in to site in a layer underneath (Photo 7)
- Cover the ribs with foil and bake for 2 hours (Photo 8)
Use your fingers to grab (or paper towel) the edge of the membrane and pull to remove then discard.
🍜 Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs Recipe
Sprinkle the dry rub over the rack of ribs and use your fingers to massage it in. Flip and do the other side, then repeat the process for the other rack.
Place the separate racks into the oiled baking trays. Pour in water, not to cover but to sit in a layer beneath the ribs. Then cover the tray with aluminium foil and place into the oven.
Cook the ribs for 2 hours. Then use oven mits to remove them, place the trays onto a heatproof surface and pull back the foil.
Change the oven setting to grill and turn up the heat to 200 degrees (200°C 392°F6).
Use kitchen tongs to remove the racks and place them onto a silicon mat on a baking tray.
Use a pastry brush to liberally baste with the sweet and sour sticky sauce then place the ribs into the oven for 10 minutes on the top shelf.
- Baste with sauce, repeat 2 to 3 times (Photo 9)
Remove the ribs after 10 minutes and repeat the basting/grill process up to 3 times (total 30 mins grill time).
Once the ribs are finished grilling, you can use oven mits to remove the tray, place it on a heatproof surface, let the ribs rest for 3 to 5 minutes then use a knife to chop them into individual ribs.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Drizzling the ribs with leftover extra sauce and popping the rest in a bowl for dunking is a great idea, there is more than enough in the recipe to go around!
You can also have a read through all of my homemade sauce recipes for alternative sauce pairing ideas.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers ribs in a sealed, air tight container or plate with cling wrap. They can be refrigerated for 2 days.
How to Freeze
I don't recommend freezing leftover cooked ribs as they will never taste as good as when freshly cooked then grilled. You can however, purchase your ribs then freeze them (ahead of time) and thaw prior to using when you are ready to make the recipe.
How to Reheat
Place the ribs onto a silicon baking mat and reheat in the oven (moderate temperature) for 5 to 10 mins to reheat. If you are in a hurry, you can microwave them on high for 2 to 3 minutes.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- If you want to use white sugar in place of the brown sugar for the rub, it will work.
- I recommend sweet or smoked paprika, not hot. We don't want or need any 'spicy hotness' in the recipe as we want to ensure we have the sweet and sour party dance going on in our mouths instead 👍.
- You can use this dry rub and sweet and sour sauce for making pork spare ribs (individually cut ribs) also.
- Some sweet and sour sauce recipes include red food dye to colour the sauce. It is my preference not too, however, you do you and if you want to, you can add a couple of drops.
- Rice is another serving suggestion that pairs well with the flavour combination of this recipe. Jasmine, basmati or coconut rice will all partner well.
- You might want to carry the sweet and sour notion into the serving of the dish and serve with some freshly grilled pineapple.
- You can try the flavour combination, dry rub and sweet and sour sauce with beef short ribs also.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- Patting the ribs dry with paper towel to start with helps to make the surface dry and ready for the rub.
- Paper towel also helps when removing the membrane as you can grab the corner with this and pull to remove.
- Try and keep the dry rub away from any liquids or moisture. When you rub it into the meat, it will massage in easier if it is super dry.
- In between massaging one rack to the other, rinse the rub off your hands, it tends to stick and can get a little messy, so clean hands for the 2nd rack will help you.
- Ensuring that the oven is preheated will allow you to follow the cook times accurately. Otherwise placing the ribs into a cold oven will mean they miss out on the long cook time that makes them so tender and juicy.
- If you want to garnish the ribs other than with sauce, try using sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onions.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What is sweet and sour pork ribs?
Sweet and sour pork ribs are oven baked pork ribs that get covered in an Asian style sweet and sour sauce. The meat is tender and juicy and the sauce is sweet and tangy.
What are the 3 types of pork ribs?
The 3 types of pork ribs are:
- Pork spare ribs
- Pork baby back ribs
- Country style ribs
Why do people put brown sugar on ribs?
Brown sugar is an excellent ingredient to use in a dry rub for ribs as it helps to sweeten the meat and caramelise as the ribs are cooking.
How long to cook ribs in oven?
Cook the ribs for 2 hours in the oven, covered. Then remove, baste in sauce and grill the ribs for 10 mins. Repeat the baste and grill process a total of 3 times (30 mins). The total cook time for the ribs is 2 hours 30 minutes.
What should I rub on my ribs?
Here are 11 great spices that work exceptionally well as a dry rib on ribs:
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Brown sugar
- Mustard powder
- Ground ginger
- Kosher salt
- Chili powder
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Dinner can be super simple and easy to get sorted with some reliable and varied recipes to turn to. Here are some ideas that I think (hope 😉👍) you will love:
- Marinated Lamb Ribs
- Easy Greek Ribs
- Slow Cooker Pulled Lamb
- Slow Cooker Lamb Stew
- Air Fryer Roast Chicken
- Pork Bolognese
- Fettuccine Bolognese
- Rigatoni Gorgonzola
- Fusilli Al Pesto
- Fusilli Alfredo
It is time to get sweet and sour sauce all over your face and your fingers my friend!
Sweet and Sour Ribs
- 1 Paper towel
- 1 Small glass jug
- 1 Mini whisk
- 1 Medium size glass jug
- 1 Spoon
- 1 Chopping board
- 2 Baking Trays
- 1 Aluminium foil
- 1 olive oil spray
- 2 Kitchen Tongs
- 1 Baking tray with wire rack
- 1 Silicon Baking Mat
- 1 Pastry Brush
Sweet and Sour Dry Rub
- 1.5 kg/3 pounds pork ribs
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (cooking salt)
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 cup water Note 1
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
- ½ cup/125ml pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Preheat the oven: preheat the oven to 180°C / 350-375°F / Gas Mark 4-5.
- Baking trays: cover 2 x long rectangular baking trays with aluminium foil. Spray with olive oil. Then set aside.
- Dry rub: add the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, ginger powder, paprika, salt and pepper to a glass jug and use a mini whisk to consistently combine.
- Sweet and Sour sauce: add the tomato sauce, pineapple juice, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce to a medium sized jug, stir to combine. Then set aside.
- Ribs: place the ribs onto a chopping board with the underside facing up. Use paper towel to pat dry. Starting at one corner locate the membrane and gently pull this off. Use a knife for any tricky bits, cut and discard.
- Seasoning: working one rack at a time, place the ribs onto a chopping board (meat side up). Sprinkle the dry rub all over the meat to cover and massage into the ribs. Flip to the underside and repeat covering with rub. Then transfer seasoned ribs to oiled baking tray, pour in water to sit in a layer underneath, cover with foil and then repeat process for the 2nd rack.
- Oven bake: place the covered ribs into the oven and bake for 2 hours.
- Remove: use oven mits to remove each tray from the oven and rest on a heat proof surface. Gently unfold and discard the alfoil. (The ribs will easily lift off due to the water and olive oil spray).
- Baste: transfer the cooked ribs to a silicon lined baking rack with tray underneath. Use a pastry brush to liberally coat the ribs with the sweet and sour sauce. Repeat for other rack of ribs.
- Grill/broil: change the oven setting to grill at 200°C 392°F6. Place the baking rack into the oven on the top shelf. Grill the ribs for 10 mins (no need to flip). Repeat basting process followed by 10 mins grill time 3 times.
- Serve and enjoy: use oven mits to remove the baking rack from the oven and rest on heat proof surface. Allow the ribs to sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Then use kitchen tongs to transfer to a chopping board. Use a knife and cut the ribs into individual or pairs. Place bowl of leftover sweet and sour sauce on plate with the ribs for serving.
- Note 1 - Water: this gets poured underneath the ribs in the baking tray. It helps to create a moist (not dry) environment to cook the ribs in.