Sweet Daddy D's Sweet and Sour Spareribs are Country Style pork spareribs, slowly braised in a sweet and sour barbeque sauce until they are fall-apart tender and infused with a wonderfully delicious and tangy flavor. This ultra-simple recipe can be finished in the oven or on the stovetop. One thing is for sure, the family will love it!
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What are country-style pork spareribs?
Here’s what they aren’t: they aren't your traditional rack of ribs-a row of several long bones with attached meat like back ribs or spareribs. Back ribs come from high on the hog’s back meeting the backbone and are leaner than the spareribs. Spareribs come from the lower section of the rib cage around the belly to the sternum. Country-style pork ribs are taken from further toward the hog’s snout, where the loin meets the blade or shoulder.
Some people consider country-style ribs pork rib chops, not truly ribs. They can contain a mixture of lean meat from the loin, dark meat from the shoulder, and maybe part of the shoulder blade or rib bone. Depending on exactly where the butcher cuts them from, they may have characteristics of both shoulder and loin, making different portions of the ribs tougher than other portions. You can get boneless country-style pork ribs, but usually, the meat is attached to narrow slices of rib bones and feather bones. Like other styles of ribs, they can contain lots of connective tissue making them tough but very responsive to a low-temperature long cooking method.
Here’s What You Need
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
Note on the Country-style spareribs: This recipe calls for about 3 to 3 ½ pounds of sparerib meat. Buy about 4 to 4 ½ pounds of ribs to account for the bones and the fat you will trim off.
Here is some of the equipment I used in making this recipe:
Here’s What You Do
First…you have a beer. Want to enjoy the cooking process and guarantee success? Let’s do it the no-angst way. Open a beer and while you sip it, read the recipe all the way through. That way you’ll know what ingredients and equipment you need and what you’ll do with each. Then, do your mise en place and you are ready to go!
Mise en place
To prepare the spareribs:
- Trim any excess and hard fat from the ribs.
- Cut the ribs into serving-size pieces. (Size will vary depending on the bone)
- Pat them dry with paper towels and sprinkle kosher salt and black pepper on all sides.
- Set aside.
To prepare other ingredients:
- Have small prep bowls, measuring cups, or sections of your cutting board ready to lay out the prepared ingredients.
- Roughly chop the onions and the garlic.
- Chop bacon into approximately 1-inch pieces.
- Squeeze the lemon.
- Measure the remaining ingredients: apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Chili Sauce, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sear the spareribs
What happens in this step? While searing the meat does help retain some moisture, more importantly, it leaves fond in the pan which will provide deep flavor for the entire dish. Bacon renderings provide the fat needed to brown the meat and saute the onions and add a ton of flavor.
Place the bacon in a cold Dutch oven over medium heat. Fry until the fat has rendered, then remove the bacon from the Dutch oven, leaving the renderings in the pan.
Pro Tip: If you have some soft, white fat trimmed from the meat, use it along with the bacon. That's added flavor!
Increase the heat to medium-high. Place the ribs in the Dutch oven and brown for about 5 minutes on each side. Do this in batches, if necessary not to overcrowd the pan.
Remove the browned ribs from the pan and set aside.
Make the Sauce
What happens in this step? We will use the foundation started with the fond and bacon drippings to create a sweet and savory braising liquid.
Add the yellow onions to the bacon renderings and saute until starting to clear, approximately 5 minutes. Make sure to stir thoroughly so all the onions are coated in bacon fat.
Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
Next, deglaze the Dutch oven with the water, mixing all the fond into the onions.
Now we will add all the remaining ingredients: lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Chili Sauce, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly while you bring the mixture to a low simmer. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Braise the spareribs
What happens in this step? The long low-temperature cooking in this special braising liquid will infuse the spareribs with deliciousness while rendering their fat. This creates an unbelievable flavor.
Place the seared ribs in the braising liquid along with any accumulated juices. Make sure to coat the ribs completely with the sauce. Bring the sauce to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered.
Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the 325-degree Fahrenheit oven. This will cook until the spareribs are very tender and falling apart, which will take about 1 ½ hours. Stir the sauce and baste the ribs every 30 minutes.
Pro Tip: The spareribs are done only when they are extremely tender and fall off the bone. The recipe says to cook the spareribs for 1 ½ hours or until very tender, but this is just an estimate. Check for tenderness by poking the ribs with a fork, knife, or bamboo skewer (which I use). Start checking the tenderness after an hour and continue until the probe slides in without resistance. This also gives the sauce time to come together and be the most delicious.
When very tender, take the Dutch oven out of the oven and set aside. Let the ribs rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon off the excess fat, if desired, before serving.
Hints and Tips (FAQs)
Alternate cooking methods: You can finish the recipe on the stovetop, simmering on low covered, until extremely tender, about 1 ½ hours. Stir often and baste the ribs every 30 minutes. This recipe will also work in an Instant Pot. Pressure cook the ribs and sauce for up to 25 minutes depending on your desired level of tenderness. (Disclaimer: I am not experienced with Instant Pots and you should refer to your manual about pressures, modes, and all things operational or safety!)
Leftover Sweet and Sour Spareribs can be held in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Make sure to cool the leftovers down before placing them in the fridge. Reheat in a 300-degree oven, wrapped in aluminum foil, for about 30 minutes or until warmed through. Uncover for the last 10 minutes. You can also reheat them in the microwave.
To freeze leftovers, cool the Sweet and Sour Spareribs, then place them in an airtight freezer container or vacuum-sealed bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in a 300-degree oven for about 30 minutes or until warmed through. Wrap the Sweet and Sour Spareribs in foil, then uncover for the last 10 minutes. You can also reheat them in the microwave.
If desired: Substitute ketchup for the Chili Sauce; use light brown sugar, but dark brown is also fine to use, substitute white vinegar, cane vinegar, or lemon juice for the apple cider vinegar. Substitute lard, shortening, or vegetable oil for the bacon drippings.
What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Spareribs
Other great pork dishes from Sweet Daddy D
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Yeah You Right!
Sweet and Sour Spareribs
Here's What You Need
- 3 pounds country style spareribs trimmed
- 2 slices smoked bacon
- 2 cups yellow onions
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 6 tablespoon water
- 1 cup Heinze Chili Sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Here's What You Do
- Trim excess fat from the ribs. Cut ribs into serving-size pieces. Pat dry with paper towels, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper on all sides, and set aside.
- Roughly chop the onions and the garlic. Chop bacon into approximately 1-inch pieces. Measure the remaining ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit oven.
- Place the bacon in a cold Dutch oven over medium heat. Fry the bacon until the fat has rendered, then remove the bacon from the Dutch oven, leaving the fat in the pan.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and brown the ribs for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the browned ribs from the pan.
- Add the yellow onions to the bacon renderings and saute for approximately 5 minutes until starting to clear.
- Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
- Next, deglaze the Dutch oven with the 6 tablespoons of water, mixing all the fond into the onions.
- Add all the remaining ingredients: lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Chili Sauce, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly and bring the mixture to a low simmer and continue for 5 minutes.
- Return the ribs to the Dutch oven along with any accumulaeted juices. Completely coat all the ribs with the sauce.
- Bring the sauce to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
- Cover the Dutch oven and place in the 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 1 ½ hours or until the ribs are very tender and falling apart. Stir the sauce and baste the ribs every 30 minutes. (See Notes for alternate cooking methods)
- When the spareribs are very tender, remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon off excess fat, if desired before serving.