Spanish Barbecued Ribs: Costillas a la Parrilla

Costillas de Cerdo a la Parilla

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Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Marinate: 3 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
63 Calories
4g Fat
2g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 574mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 79mg 2%
*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.)

Pork is a big part of the Spanish diet, and preparing food a la parrilla (grilled) is a common practice in Spain, especially when families and friends go on weekend trips to the pueblo, or village, or to campgrounds. This recipe for barbecued ribs, or costillas a la parrilla, is a perfect example of these two traditional aspects of Spanish cooking. The pork ribs can be prepared in a variety of ways with different flavorings; this recipe calls for a spice rub made of garlic, Spanish paprika, and oregano along with red wine vinegar. The ribs are refrigerated in this mixture to marinate and then cooked on a hot grill.

Baby back ribs are best here as they have more meat and are more tender than spare ribs. They are leaner, however, and there isn't a lot of fat to help keep the ribs moist, so it's important not to overcook them. As you may expect, this recipe calls for Spanish paprika, versus Hungarian or the basic paprika we find in the grocery store spice aisle. Pimentón, as it is called in Spain, is sold in a few varieties: sweet (dulce), spicy (picante), and agridulce, which is a combination of sweet and spicy making for a sort of "middle of the road" paprika. Use whichever you prefer or the type you can find—the spice rub will be delicious regardless.

Keep in mind that this recipe for Spanish barbecued ribs takes several hours; they will need to marinate for at least three hours and then the cooking time is about one hour. Serve these ribs as tapas or as a main dish along with a vegetable, French fries or rice, and a few sauces (aioli, barbecue sauce, or hot sauce) for dipping.


  • 1 rack (about 2 1/2 pounds) baby back pork ribs, trimmed of extra fat

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon Spanish paprika, smoked or spicy

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Rinse and pat dry the ribs. Place in a rectangular glass baking dish, meat side up. Rub the garlic over the ribs and into the meat with your hands.

  3. Place the salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl. Crush the dry oregano between your fingers to release the flavor and add it to the spice mixture. Rub the spice mixture into the meat.

  4. Sprinkle the vinegar over the ribs. Turn the ribs over (so the meat side is down). Cover the glass dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to marinate.

  5. Bring the ribs to room temperature before cooking. Grill the ribs for about 30 minutes on each side.

  6. Remove the ribs from the grill and cut into single or double rib pieces.

  7. Serve and enjoy.


You may adjust the quantities of the spices to your taste. Keep in mind that you want to add flavor, but not overpower the meat.