Dry Rubbed Barbecue Pork Ribs – Paleo Style

paleo barbecue pork ribs with sauceEver since the paleo diet unshackled me from the fear of eating animal fat I have been on a mission to indulge in foods previously avoided. Barbecued pork ribs is one of those foods. My goal with this recipe was to create something delicious that would be paleo, which means, among other things, having very little or no sugar. It was also important the dry-rubbed ribs be good enough to be eaten without sauce.  Of course, barbecue sauce is pretty indispensable in the minds of most people and my family is no exception.  So I have also included a spicy barbecue sauce recipe that contains no high fructose corn syrup and only 2 tablespoons of sweetener.  The dry rub recipe contains coconut crystals which is a low-glycemic natural sweetener that adds some sweetness and caramelizes when the ribs are grilled.  You can either leave this ingredient out entirely or replace it with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar if you like.

Dry Rub

  • 1/4 cup coconut crystals -optionalpaleo dry rub for barbecue
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dry basil (crushed)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Ribspaleo barbecue pork ribs

3 full racks of baby back ribs (a.k.a. back ribs, baby backs, loin back ribs, loin ribs, Canadian back ribs).

Each rack is usually 2-3 pounds, about half of which is bone.  I bought a three-pack from Costco which was 9 lbs for $3.99/lb. The bone side has a membrane covering it called the pleura. This membrane should be removed before applying the dry rub because it can be leathery and almost unchewable when cooked and prevents flavors from penetrating. Fortunately for me, the ribs from Costco already had the membrane removed.

Instructions for ribsdry rubbed baby back ribs paleo

Rinse the ribs and then pat them dry with paper towels. Place the ribs on large pieces of foil on shallow baking pans. Apply the dry rub evenly on both sides of the ribs. Wrap the ribs in the foil, making sure you have a good seal to keep in the juices.  foil wrapped bbq paleo ribsIdeally you should allow them to marinate for 30 minutes or more before cooking but this step is optional if you don’t have the time.

Cook the ribs at 200 degrees F for 4 hours.  If you have the time, you can turn off the oven and let the ribs “rest” inside for 30 minutes.  Preheat a gas grill for about 10 minutes and unwrap the ribs and pour off the cooking juices into a container for use in the barbecue sauce.  Place the ribs on the grill, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes with the lid closed.

paleo pork ribs on the grillTurn the ribs over and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cover with foil to rest for 15 minutes or until you are ready to serve.paleo dry rubbed pork ribs

Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups of cooking juices from the ribs (or beef stock)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions for barbecue sauce

While the ribs are cooking on the grill, combine drippings (or stock) and the diced garlic and simmer in a medium sauce pan for 5 minutes.  Whisk in remaining ingredients and simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or more if you like a thicker sauce.paleo barbecue sauce

Slow cooking resulted in extremely tender pork ribs that pulled right off the bone but were not overcooked to the point of falling apart.  In my humble opinion, the mark of truly good ribs is when they are tasty enough to be eaten without adding barbecue sauce and I honestly believe this recipe hits that high mark.  I served the ribs along with some brussels sprouts cooked with bacon and TOLERATION gluten free ale.  These dry rubbed paleo pork ribs would also be good served with a paleo coleslaw or collard greens and/or cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower.
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43 thoughts on “Dry Rubbed Barbecue Pork Ribs – Paleo Style

  1. Pingback: PALEO Spare Ribs...MMM-mmm good!!! | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

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  3. I made your recipe last night. It was astonishingly good. I didn’t expect the bbq sauce to be as delicious as it was. And it (the sauce) was a large enough quantity that I was able to freeze half of it for next time, which will be soon!

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  5. Made this recipe last night and it’s awesome! The dry rub adds great flavour and the sauce is amazing.Thanks for posting the recipe… will be using this one regularly!

  6. This recipe was amazing – it was beyond delicious and the BBQ sauce was fantastic too. Will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much.

  7. Paleo… Absolutely ignorant craze… But doesnt mean the recipes have to be crazy. Using this one for a sick friend. Looks good

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  9. Caution, following this recipe will produce outstanding ribs!
    I’m doing this on 9 racks of pork spare ribs for a wedding this weekend. The ribs were brined first for 2 days in soy sauce/apple juice blend. I tripled the dry rub recipe which was the perfect quantity for both ribs and tips. Smoked with a hickory/alder/mesquite blend at 200 to 250*F for 6 hours in a “smoke vault”. Extended the time because the upper levels in the smoker are much cooler and rotation is needed. Mopped both sides with the sauce, wrapped in foil and baked in oven @ 250*F for 45 min. Double the sauce recipe was good for mopping only 6 racks. I did substitute iodized salt for Celtic sea salt in the sauce. These were spicier than I had expected and are not sweet but the flavor is just top notch! I will caramelize by dusting brown sugar on both sides and broiling a couple minutes.

    • Craig,
      I’m totally fascinated by your process. I would LOVE to taste those ribs after they were in the “smoke vault”. I try to keep the sugar to a bare minimum for people who are avoiding it. But the idea of caramelizing with a little brown sugar sounds great and probably doesn’t add up to too much over the entire recipe. Thank you for giving me the feedback. I’m so glad it turned out well.

      • I used to put sugar in the rub and my meat would always burn! I’ve only tried broiling with brown sugar once but it adds a great crispy, “candied” texture. Thanks for your feedback, if you have any suggestions, please share them!

  10. Made the ribs a few weeks ago (with only the rub) and now just put in another few racks of ribs for Father’s Day! SO good. Best ribs we have EVER had–both paleo and pre-paleo days. The only change I made was no coconut crystals or sauce. Instead, I basted the ribs while on the grill with the leftover juices that were left in the foil/pan and added some pure pineapple juice, since pineapple tones down the spice factor. AMAZING. Thank you for this. :) love love love!!

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  12. Did I read this right? Cook the ribs for a total of 30 minutes on the gas grill? Am I missing something? I thought that it would take a few hours? I’m a “novice” chef and very new to paleo so trying to make this right…Thanks in advance!

  13. PS – Maybe its for the time after the oven? It’s hot and I’m looking to grill the ribs entirely, not use the oven anymore than necessary…

    • I can understand not wanting to use the oven this time of year. The recipe is for cooking the ribs in the oven on very low heat for about 4 hours. That’s why you only need 30 minutes on the grill. It results in extremely tender ribs that fall off the bone. If you don’t want to use the oven and only the grill, I’m sure you can do that. You would just get a somewhat different result. I have not tried making them on the grill entirely so I can’t say for sure how long you would need to cook them.

  14. My wife and I used your recipie for cooking ribs on our portable electric grill, turns out you can grill them at 200 degrees for the 4 hours instead of using the oven. Luckily our little grill has a built in thermometer. They fell off the bone they were so good, I’m trying it again today for dinner. Thank you!

    • Hey Ryan, You are welcome. And thanks for letting me know about the grill. I have never tried it that way but it would be a great idea for folks who don’t want to make their house hotter during the summer by using the oven.

  15. Made these for the long weekend and they were a massive hit. Have used smoked paprika for a long time but wrapping the ribs and slow cooking them first was brilliant. Used some fresh basil in the sauce and maple syrup instead of honey. Brilliant. Thanks.

  16. Just made your ribs but without the bbq and without the bbq sauce..the ribs are AMAZING!Well impressed.Thx for the recipe!

  17. I made these last night, and linked this recipe from my blog. The world should know about this recipe, lol. I had never made ribs before, and my hubs thought he had died and gone to heaven. You could seriously bottle that barbecue sauce, so so good.

  18. For people that have tried this recipe, how hot is it with the cayenne pepper? I would love to try these out but my girlfriend is sensitive to spicy food :P

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  20. When I cook any meat , chicken I cook it in the oven top shelf, in a cast iron heavy fry pan, I use cracked black pepper and a meat rub . I bake in tempature of 400 degree, I don’t use any oil in the pan, it will cook in its own juices ,turn it about 20 min cook another 20 min ,ribs esp taste awesome. With chicken u just need to adjust the time ,

  21. ahoy there –

    definitely a nubi paleo eater AND cook but these sound delicious and i’d really like to try them….2 maybe silly questions: in the first pic (instructions for the 4 hour oven cooking) the ribs are shown wrapped up one rib at a time; and then in the 2nd pic (instructions for the post oven electric grill segmant), there’s a whole rack pictured. ?

    2nd, can you do them all in the oven, without the finish off time on the grill? Anybody have any ideas what modifications would that take? I’m a urban small interior studio dweller…

    thanks in advance for any help anyone can give! My mouth is already watering….

    • Hi Ria,
      The first picture you are referring to is actually a photo of three full racks of ribs – not individual ribs. They are the same three full racks that you see later in the photos on the grill. I think you could finish them off without a grill. I would suggest you use your broiler to finish the cooking and just keep and eye on them to make sure you don’t burn them. I would imagine the time would be similar but you would have to be mindful of how far away from the broiler you place the ribs. Good luck!

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  23. OMG, these ribs were so good, and unbelievably tender!! Followed the recipe almost exactly and 2 out of the 3 ribs (also from costco) were eaten by 6 women. What a great and healthy 4th of July treat. And the sauce, as simple as it was, was incredible!

    • Hmm, I never thought about that but it sounds like a great idea. I don’t see why you couldn’t do it that way as long as you reheat the ribs a bit before grilling – or at least make sure they aren’t still cold. Mainly because the grilling part is fairly short so you want to make sure it warms through. Great idea!

    • There are plenty of things that don’t freeze well but I have found that ribs are not one of them. I prepared 12 racks in early May and kept them frozen until the 4th of July and they cooked up mighty fine! As with freezing anything, vacuum sealing is ideal. I’d image that freezer burn would diminish their quality.

      • Thanks so much! cooked them up to the grill part, vacuum sealed, froze and am taking them camping this weekend!! can’t wait!!

  24. Had this last weekend with friends. It was unbelievable! The sauce was lick-the-plate good. Instead of making my own rub, I picked up “Uncle’s Lu’au Coffee
    Rub & Seasoning” from the Aloha Spice Company. The subtle earthy coffee flavor went really nice with the meaty ribs. I’m craving it again.

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