This Chinese Spare Ribs recipe is just as good as the spare ribs you order for Chinese takeout! They are unbelievably tender, savory, and sweet. Plus, it’s so easy to make using the crockpot that you will want to enjoy them all the time.
BBQ Chinese Spare Ribs Recipe
One of my favorite foods, when I order Chinese takeout, is spare ribs. They are sweet, savory, and fall off the bone tender. I’ve always wondered what the secret was that made them taste so good. This recipe is really close and it’s easy! Since the ribs are cooked in the slow cooker, they don’t require a lot of work but are still so delicious.
Having the ability to recreate my favorite foods at home saves time and money while also allowing me to get creative and make the flavors my own. Plus, I can adjust spices so my kids enjoy them too. The first time I made Chinese spare ribs we didn’t have any leftovers!
What You’ll Need
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make the best Chinese ribs. For exact measurements, scroll to the recipe card below.
- St. Louis Style Spare Ribs: These are the best bone-in cut of ribs for this recipe.
- Soy Sauce
- Chinese Five Spice
- Brown Sugar: Light and brown sugar are both great.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Use as much or as little as you like. Omit it altogether if you don’t want any spice.
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic cloves or minced garlic from the produce section at the grocery store will work.
- Ground Ginger
- Red Food Coloring: This is optional to give the sauce the signature red color that you see with Chinese takeout.
- Cornstarch: This is essential to thicken the sauce for the spare ribs.
- Sesame Seeds
- Green Onions: Slice these up and sprinkle them on top as an optional garnish.
How to Make Chinese Spare Ribs
This is such a simple recipe! Once the ribs are marinated and cooked in the slow cooker, they get broiled to caramelize the outside (that’s the secret to getting that Chinese takeout feeling with these spare ribs).
- Step 1. Mix the soy sauce, honey, Chinese five spices, brown sugar, red pepper, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl until combined. If you are using the red food coloring, you can add that as well. Set it aside.
- Step 2. Cut the spare ribs in between the bones. You will want to do this every 2 bones.
- Step 3. Place the ribs in the slow cooker and pour the marinade over the top. Cook on low for 6 hours. I recommend an 8-quart slow cooker to fit all of the ribs.
- Step 4. Once they are cooked, remove the spare ribs and transfer them to a foil-lined baking sheet. Add the cornstarch to the remaining sauce in the slow cooker to thicken it.
- Step 5. Baste the spare ribs with the extra sauce and place under the broiler until caramelized. It should take about 5-6 minutes.
- Step 6. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions!
What is Chinese Five Spice?
It’s a signature spice blend often used in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine. It consists of star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, and Szechuan peppercorns ground up into a fine powder. You will see it used often as a dry rub for all types of meat but most commonly with different cuts of pork.
What is Hoisin?
Hoisin sauce is a Chinese barbecue sauce. It’s sweet and salty and often used as a glazing sauce in stir fry. The most prominent flavor is fermented soybeans but it is also made with garlic, fennel, and red chili peppers.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t want to wait? Cook on high for 4 hours.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F until warm about about 5-7 minutes.
More Chinese-Inspired Recipes
- Dynamite Shrimp – Copycat PF Chang’s
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli
- Easy Orange Chicken
- Crab Rangoon Egg Rolls
Chinese Spare Ribs
- 3 pounds St. Louis style spare ribs
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring optional
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- sesame seeds optional
- green onions optional
- In a small bowl mix, soy sauce, honey, hoisin, five spice blend, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, red food coloring (optional) and set aside.
- Cut the ribs between the bones, every 2 bones.
- Place ribs and marinade in an 8 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours.
- Remove ribs and place on a sheet pan lined with foil. Toss the cornstarch into the slow cooker with the marinade and stir, baste the ribs all over with the marinade from the slow cooker.
- Place under the broiler for 5-6 minutes or until caramelized.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions and serve!