Kansas City Sticky Ribs on Charcoal Grill

Spare ribs that are slow-roasted all-day are the perfect welcome to summer. They are rubbed with spices, then put on the barbecue over indirect heat for 2-hours. They continue to roasted for another 2 hours wrapped in aluminum foil, the last 1-hour they are slathered with home-made barbecue sauce. Recipe.

Spare ribs that are fall-apart tender after 4-hours on the grill.

It’s definitely worth making home-made BBQ sauce, since you’re home anyways. Usually, I cut the recipe in half, because there is too much sauce to use. But today I made the extra for tomorrow’s barbecued burgers.  It’s as simple as sauteing an onion, adding the ingredients and stirring every 15 minutes for 1-1/2 hours.


  1. Sometimes the ribs are overcooked, so I’ve made two modification: First I used only 50-charcoals instead of 60. Second, I reduce the 3rd and 4th hour to 45-minutes (cutting a total of 1/2 hour off the cooking time). Today I used both methods because my guests were warning how black the ribs were becoming. But in the end, I should have only used one method. They still were delicious, but had some fat that hadn’t broken all the way down.
  2. Because I don’t buy St. Louis cut ribs, I can only fit one rack of ribs on my grill. For me, that attached brisket taste too good to let them cut it away at the butchers. If you want two racks, then you must buy the St. Louis cut, or they just won’t fit on a 21-inch Weber.
  3. I usually cut the BBQ Sauce recipe in half, because 4-cups is too much sauce for my one rack of ribs.
  4. The sauce recipe calls for it to simmer for 1-hour, but it always takes me at least 1-1/2 hours to get it to reduce to the correct amount.
  5. You absolutely must have a chimney starter for this recipe, because the second batch of coals need to be started 20-minutes prior to the 2 hour mark (i.e. after 1 hour and 40 minutes). Obviously one batch of coals won’t last for 4-hours.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $10 for single rack of ribs, about 3-1/2 pounds.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 12:00 PM. Dinner time 5:00 PM.

5 Responses to Kansas City Sticky Ribs on Charcoal Grill

  1. Kae says:

    I have a rib rack, which allows me to put several slabs on the grill on their sides…..not expensive, and quite useful.

  2. Wow, that’s a great idea!! Thanks

  3. lorri says:

    Hello – the “recipe” word appears to be a link but it’s not working. Sometimes your recipe links take me to the CI website and I sign in to see the recipe, and this time the BBQ sauce recipe opened up without me having to sign in. But the RECIPE link is blank.

    I went to CI and have searched for the recipe under various words, including just ‘ribs’ but i dont’ see it. can you please reconfirm the link for those of us who are (eventually) cooking some of these fab recipes, with you? Cheers, L

  4. Hi Lorri, thanks for pointing out the problem with my link. I fixed it.

    It was on America’s Test Kitchen a year or two ago, so that’s why it didn’t come up on the CI search. Only ATK’s site, but usually everything is at CI website too, but not always.


  5. […] Kansas City BBQ Beans Smokey Kansas City BBQ Beans are made together with the sticky ribs as part of one of America’s Test Kitchens greatest summer recipe. Perfect for a summer day […]

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