Kansas City Ribs

Kansas City Ribs

Tatiana Volgutova / Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 5 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
828 Calories
40g Fat
53g Carbs
67g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 828
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 12g 61%
Cholesterol 203mg 68%
Sodium 1759mg 76%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Protein 67g
Calcium 151mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Although you will find variations to the recipe, Kansas City ribs have a distinctive style all their own. They are sweet and sticky pork ribs with a bit of spice and just the right amount of smoke. We can credit Kansas City's railway system for the birth of these barbecue beauties. Over 100 years ago, workers from the deep South brought their barbecue traditions to the city at the same time that butchers became more prevalent and ribs were the meat of choice. Henry Perry is considered the father of Kansas City barbecue, emigrating to the city in 1907 and opening a restaurant with the Bryant brothers years later; by the 1950s, Arthur Bryant's became the place for ribs.

In this recipe, the ribs are first coated with a rub made of brown sugar, paprika, and chili, garlic, and onion powders, as well as a little bit of cayenne pepper. After the ribs have cooked a bit, they are brushed with a combination of ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, and spices to make the ribs nice and sticky, and quintessentially Kansas City.


  • 3 pounds pork spareribs
  • For the Rub:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • For the Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Steps to Make It

  1. Prepare ribs by removing the membrane from the underside of the ribs. Trim off any loose fat or meat.

  2. Prepare a smoker or grill. It will need to hold a temperature of around 225 F/110 C for 4 to 6 hours, so plan accordingly.

  3. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the rub. Season the ribs with the rib rub and let sit at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes. Then place the rack of ribs on the grill or in the smoker.

  4. While ribs are cooking, prepare the barbecue sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and sauté until light brown (make sure not to let it burn).

  5. Add the remaining ingredients and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes until thick.

  6. Brush on the sauce during the last hour of cooking. (The ribs can take up to 6 hours to smoke.) Cook the ribs until the internal temperature of the meat reaches about 185 F/85 C.

Recipe Tips

  • To remove the ribs' membrane, slip a knife under the membrane at one end of the rack and peel back enough to get a good grip. If you need a better grip, use a paper towel to hold the membrane, and then pull. You will get the hang of it after one or two times.
  • Many cooks wrap their ribs in aluminum foil during a portion of the smoking time. This helps the ribs from drying out. About halfway through cooking, wrap the ribs in foil and put back in the smoker for another hour. Remove the foil for the last hour or so of cooking time.