Rocky Mountain Cooking

Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs

Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs are better than what you can find at any restaurant. Grab extra napkins, you’ll need them.

This past week, I was looking at my calendar and realized that next weekend is Memorial Day. I’m not sure how this is possible as I thought that it was just Easter. Ugh, no wonder my hair is turning grey. It’s not from turning older, it’s from time going so fast. I’ll blame “time” on that. Lol!

On Memorial Day, it seems that barbecued ribs will be grilling away in countless backyards across America. Including mine. I am always on a quest for new ways to make rubs and sauces for ribs. This week was no exception. It was also my week to bring the main course to our tennis picnic on Thursday night and I thought that ribs would be a perfect addition since they are good at room temperature and I could recipe test them on the ladies. The gals are always good at giving constructive advice, although this week, all that happened was mouths full of ribs and I think, “yum” was muttered more than once.  So, I guess these ribs were a big hit and maybe I’ll do it again! I think that they would like that.

I came up with the Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs because I was craving those Chinese spare ribs that are found on just about every Chinese menu in America. For some reason they are addicting. Sweet, salty, and sticky all in one bite. Maybe it’s the crazy red color that attracts us like hummingbirds. Who knows but one thing that I know for sure is that everyone knows what I’m talking about.  Right?

The key ingredient to make these the signature flavor that you would expect from a sticky rib is Chinese 5 spice powder. It has a pungent warm flavor that you will totally recognize when you eat it. It goes perfectly with the sweetness of the glaze and a perfect accompaniment to the pork.

This dry rub and sauce would be a fun thing to surprise your guests with on Memorial Day. It’s a total 180 than the normal sauced ribs that we all love. Heck, forget the holiday. Whip these up for any time you are craving Chinese takeout.

Enjoy my friends!


This never gets old, ribs on the grill. It’s a beautiful sight!

Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs all cut up and ready to bring to the tennis league after potluck! Some gals were pretty lucky.

I know that I have been bragging about my garden over the past few weeks. Our absolutely stunning spring in Colorado has blessed us with an abundance of flowers (way ahead of schedule) that have been going gangbusters and more brilliant than normal. I had to include a couple of my favorite pictures from this week of our state flower, the blue columbine. The light was perfect when I shot these photos and pretty much captured their glory in one quick snap. Enjoy them. I think I’ll print them off so that I can enjoy them year round!

This blue columbine, Colorado’s state flower. I just happen to have an overabundance of them in my yard. First world problem. I am so lucky! 🙂

Sometimes I take a picture and kinda amaze myself. This is one of those pictures. The inside of a blue columbine. It hardly looks real.

Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs

Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs

Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs are better than what you can find at any restaurant. The best news is that you can make extra and have awesome leftovers! Grab extra napkins, you'll need them.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Chinese
Keyword On the grill, Rib Recipe, Sticky Chinese Barbecue Ribs, Summertime barbecue
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes


For the dry rub

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

For the sticky sauce

  • 1/2 cup low sodium tamari sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce found in the Asian section
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • a few drops red food coloring totally optional

Additional ingredients

  • 2 racks loin back ribs 3 1/2- 4 pounds each
  • apple juice


To make the dry rub

  • in a small bowl combine all the ingredients for the rub and combine well. Set aside. 

To make the sticky sauce

  • In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together all the ingredients. Place over medium-low heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally. 
  • Remove from the heat and let cool. The sauce will thicken and become "sticky" when cooled.  

To make the ribs

  • Remove ribs from packaging, rinse off and pat dry. Place the ribs on a cookie sheet and liberally cover all sides of both racks of ribs. 
  • Heat your smoker anywhere from 180-225 degrees. Place the ribs on the smoker and smoke for 1 1/2-2 hours (up to 3 hours if you like a smokier rib). Spritz the ribs every 1/2 hour to prevent from drying out. 
  • After the smoking process, place the ribs back on the cookie sheet. Pour about 2 cups of apple juice in the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with tin foil. 
  • Heat your grill to 325 degrees and place the covered ribs back on the grill and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from grill. This can all be done ahead of time if you are getting ready for a party. 
  • When you are ready to finish your ribs, set the heat high on your grill. Liberally brush all sides of the ribs with the sauce. Place meaty side down and cook for 5-8 minutes. Flip over and baste again. Repete this process of flipping and basting 2-3 times. 
  • Remove from grill and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy and make sure that you have extra napkins. 


If you don't have a smoker, don't fret. Just skip the smoking step and place the ribs on a cookie sheet with the apple juice. Cover with tin foil and place in a 325-degree oven add cook for 2 hours. Remove from oven and finish on the grill as noted in the directions. 
You can find Chines 5 spice powder in the spice aisle at most grocery stores.  
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