Chinese-Style Spare Ribs Recipe | Grilling

Each week Joshua Bousel drops by with a recipe for you to grill over the weekend. Fire it up, Joshua!

On the commute to work a couple weeks ago, my co-worker and I were lamenting that for each excellent Chinese restaurant in the city, there had to be at least ten horrible ones--and there's hardly any of those halfway decent standard Americanized Chinese joints that dot the suburbs. Unfortunately, the little Northeastern corner of Queens that we inhabit has no Chinese that we can find that is even passable, leaving me to turn to my kitchen if I ever want to fulfill a Chinese fix at home. Because of this, I've become adept at making lots of types of stir-fries and some noodle dishes, but I decided to take things a little further and try my luck at some grilled Chinese, take-out style spare ribs.

Based on my previous experience with home-cooking Chinese, I found a recipe that sounded like the right mix of ingredients to achieve the flavors I'm used to. So I whipped up the hoisin-based marinade, even adding the red food coloring to get that authentic take-out look, and let the ribs soak up the flavor overnight. On the grill, they cooked for a little over an hour over indirect heat at 350 degrees, then moved over direct heat until they got that caramelized crust that makes them so delicious. Everything with the recipe was spot-on: the flavors, the texture, and even the color. Luckily I made so many that I have a healthy portion still sitting in my fridge for those authentic Chinese leftovers.

Chinese-style Spare Ribs


  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons. sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon. red food coloring
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 2-pound slab spareribs, preferably St. Louis style, cut into individual ribs


  1. Whisk together hoisin, soy, sherry, garlic, sugar, food coloring, and spice powder in a large bowl. Place ribs in a large ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and toss to coat ribs evenly. Open and reseal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for one hour to overnight.

  2. Remove ribs from the refrigerator while preparing grill. Light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When the charcoal is fully lit and covered in gray ash, pour coals out and arrange them on one side of the charcoal grate, keeping the other side empty. Place the ribs on the cool side of the grill, reserving marinade. Cover and cook at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Baste ribs with reserved marinade; flip and baste again. Cover and continue to cook for 35 minutes more.

  3. Baste with remaining marinade and move ribs directly over the coals. Grill unto ribs are glazed and browned, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove from the grill, let cool for 5 minutes, and serve.