5 Ingredients or Fewer

1-2-3-4 Spareribs

August 11, 2011
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 for appetizers
Author Notes

A Chinese friend shared this recipe many years ago. It couldn't be easier! With the ribs cut apart at the outset, they become completely portable—suitable for eating on the run, and a sensational cocktail nibble. —ChefJune

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: ChefJune is a longtime community member and food and wine educator in the New York City area.
WHAT: Sticky-sweet-savory ribs—with just 5 ingredients and 40 minutes.
HOW: Cut apart ribs, and combine them with sherry, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce. Cover and walk away (well, returning to stir a bit)—then come back to ribs.
WHY WE LOVE IT: What could be better than a platter of ribs? A platter of ribs on demand! They require only minimal attention over their 40 minutes of cooking time. We found removing the lid in the last 10 or so minutes of cooking helped the glaze really thicken up (and gave the meat a nice color). An extra bonus? The ribs are equally delicious at room temperature as they are straight from the pan. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 pounds back side ribs
  • 1 tablespoon Fino Sherry
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons low-sodium Tamari sauce
  1. Wash and dry the ribs and separate them into individual ribs. Place them in a saucepan. Add all the other ingredients. Stir to combine. Cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has almost completely evaporated and has glazed the meat.
  2. Editors' note: If you notice the meat looking grayish in the last few minutes of cooking, remove the pan's lid and raise the heat, searing the meat a bit and thickening the glaze.
  3. Remove to a plate and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Austin Burges
    Austin Burges
  • Marnie Hyland
    Marnie Hyland
  • Margaret Waters
    Margaret Waters
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Jenya | BlueGalley
    Jenya | BlueGalley
30+ years a chef, educator, writer, consultant, "winie," travel guide/coordinator

33 Reviews

Austin B. August 12, 2018
Can I make this with regular dry sherry? Fino is a bit hard to find.
ChefJune August 12, 2018
You can use any dry Sherry, however Fino is one of those.
Austin B. August 13, 2018
Giving them a run right now.
Peter A. June 21, 2018
I made this once with beef short ribs that I had found on sale, then another time with pork baby back ribs. Both times they came out great and the recipe couldn't be easier. My wife loved it too. I'll try it with brown sugar next time.
Marnie H. February 11, 2018
Oops, spoke too soon! 15 min on med-high heat with the lid off and my ribs are sticky and delish! Thank you Chef June for sharing this fantastic recipe. We love it!
ChefJune February 12, 2018
Marnie H. February 11, 2018
Wondering what I did wrong? Mine became super watery! I used baby back ribs and all the proper ingredients in a large sauce pan. The heat was low. Thoughts??
Lorraine N. August 7, 2017
I had purchased an authentic Chinese Cookbook a few years ago and had previously made a Chinese Barbecued Sparerib recipe that was outstanding but took a lot more ingredients, including a marinade and basting sauce, and 90 minutes in the oven at multiple temperatures to cook. This recipe was by far superior in taste and ease of preparation. My original recipe used soy sauce and this one utilizes Tamari Sauce which I believe made a vast difference in the flavor. I did make a few changes. Since I don’t like the taste of sherry I substituted Cognac I had available, Remy Martin VSOP, and doubled the recipe and served it over rice as a main entrée. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. Everyone loved it. I will absolutely make this again. They were hands down the best sticky ribs I have ever tasted. Thank you Chef June for sharing your friends amazing recipe.
ChefJune February 12, 2018
Thank YOU! And every time I make it, I thank Dr. Lain-Yen Hu, the research biochemist who gave ME the recipe!
caninechef June 23, 2017
I like spare ribs but am not so much into barbeque sauce so this recipe was perfect, easy, relatively quick, and great taste. Heated up fine.
ChefJune June 23, 2017
so glad you like them!
Margaret W. February 7, 2016
Oops. I bought spare ribs instead of baby backs. Can I just extend the cooking time?
ChefJune February 7, 2016
I don't see why not.
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 30, 2016
This is a recipe that I remember fondly when my mother was alive. She used to have Tiki parties. I think I may have her recipe from a cooking class she took
from back in the day. All I remember was that it was 1-2-3- spareribs. Good luck.
Jenya |. January 30, 2016
Congratulations! Can't wait to try this!! I love how simple the recipe is :)
ChefJune January 29, 2016
Thanks everyone! Opening a bottle of my favorite Iron Horse Sparkling to celebrate being a finalist. Wish I knew how to get in touch with my friend Lain-Yen who shared this recipe with me in the first place. :)
Donna January 29, 2016
Congratulations finalist! These look so good (and easy).
lapadia January 29, 2016
Congrats, CJ! Must make for the Super Bowl :)
My mom use to make the short spare ribs with a sauce similar to yours, I know this will be delicious!!
QueenSashy January 29, 2016
This is an appetizer of my dreams! Congrats on the finals!
LeBec F. January 29, 2016
i'm adding star anise and i'm right there! congrats june; quite a major win with all those entries!
Alexandra V. January 29, 2016
I tested this recipe and everyone loved it! Great technique! Congratulations on being a finalist, this recipe deserved it!
ChefJune January 31, 2016
Thanks, Alexandra, for testing my ribs. I'm so glad you like them!
nomnomMKE January 15, 2016
I'm confused by the instruction to use "back side ribs." Are these baby back ribs or spareribs?
ChefJune January 17, 2016
Sorry for any confusion. I use baby back ribs.
nomnomMKE January 17, 2016
Thank you!
clemy May 13, 2013
Chef June
I can not wait to try this,it looks yumy.
QueenSashy April 21, 2013
I hope this gets shortlisted for testing, because I cannot wait to try this out :)
amadcook August 2, 2012
I was looking for an alternative to my 3+ hour barbecued ribs when I found this recipe. They came out really nice, the flavors really came together.

I just couldn't believe you can get tender ribs in 40 minutes so I cheated a bit. I cooked the ribs covered for 60 minutes before I took the lid off, and then cooked for another 40 minutes. I threw them under the broiler for a few minutes to get some char.

Not quite my falling-off-the bone on the grill, but the flavor more than made up for it, as did the ease of preparation. I'm really tempted to try these ingredients for my BBQ next time!
ChefJune April 20, 2013
amadcook: I hope you try them the way the recipe is written. They really work!
mrslarkin April 26, 2012
Thanks for pointing these out to me, ChefJune. How crazy-easy are these? OMG! Definitely trying them soon.