Chinese BBQ Spare Ribs

Chinese BBQ Spare RIbs

Are you looking to learn how to make these delicious Chinese BBQ spare ribs that are different to your typical Western ribs? Then you’ve come to the right place. It’s such an easy dish to make – I think the hardest part of this recipe is finding all the ingredients rather than making the dish. 

These BBQ ribs are a favourite amongst my family and friends. My family has been making this dish for years and I don’t think I could ever get sick of it. It’s also a favourite amongst my friends who often buy these at Chinese takeaways.

How to make Chinese BBQ Spare Ribs:

When you order these ribs at a Chinese restaurant or takeaway, you’ll notice that the ribs are always really red. An ingredient often added to the ribs is red food colouring. I’m not exactly sure why or how this tradition started, but I think it’s used to make the ribs look more appetising.

On the pictures below I made two sets of the ribs – half with red food colouring and half without. You can definitely say that the red ribs look more appealing, but it really is not a necessity. When I make these at home I don’t usually add the red food colouring – it doesn’t add any extra flavour to the ribs. 

To marinate the ribs, I use light soy sauce, salt, sugar, garlic, five spice powder and star anise. Star anise and five spice powder can be found in your local supermarket – if not, you’ll be able to buy them from a Chinese supermarket. A great supermarket I like to buy my Chinese products from is Wing Yip. 

The longer you let the ribs marinate, the better they will taste, but you don’t have to marinate them for a full day. If you marinate them in the morning, the ribs can still be cooked for dinner and still taste delicious.

Why I like this Chinese Spare Ribs Recipe:

My family often eats these ribs with rice and a side vegetable dish. When I was at boarding school, we had a Chinese takeaway nearby. There were pretty much only two dishes I bought from the takeaway: Yeung Chow Fried Rice and Chinese BBQ spare ribs. I often ate Western food at boarding school – so lots of pasta and potatoes. It came to a point where my friends and I went to the Chinese Takeaway every Friday to get our Asian fix. 

Though I bought these ribs at the takeaway often, I definitely don’t think it was worth the money. I highly recommend making these ribs at home. Making these Chinese spare ribs from scratch taste so much better – it’s less oily and a lot cheaper than your typical Chinese takeaway. 

What to serve with these Chinese BBQ spare ribs:

These Chinese spare ribs are often served with plain white rice and some vegetable side dishes, such as garlic spinach. In big group gatherings, these Chinese spare ribs can often be found with other authentic Chinese dishes, such as duck, char siu and black bean spare ribs

Are Chinese BBQ spare ribs healthy?

Chinese BBQ Spare Ribs are not the healthiest meal to make, but it’s one of the most delicious authentic Chinese meals you can make.

Are Chinese BBQ spare ribs gluten free?

Yes, these Chinese BBQ Spare Ribs are gluten free. This dish mainly consists of different spices and sauces that are gluten free, depending on the brand you buy. 

Hints and Tips:

  • A good indication of when the ribs are ready is when about 5-10mm of meat shrinks from the tip of the ribs.

  • I’ve said that the recipe serves three… this is highly subjective. If you eat the ribs on their own then it can easily serve two, however if you eat it with some fried rice or other side dishes then it can serve three to four people.

  • When buying ribs, look for meaty ribs i.e. with more meat and white cartilage at the non-cut end. 

  • Marinate the ribs in a ziplock bag. It’s less messy and you can move the ribs around to ensure every rib is fully coated. 

Looking for similar Chinese recipes? Try these:

Chinese Barbeque Ribs

Recipe by YvonneCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • 600-700g ribs (6-8)

  • 1 star anise

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce

  • 1 tsp of salt

  • A drizzle of sugar

  • 6 garlic cloves

  • 1-2 tbsp 5 spice powder

  • 10 drops of red food colouring


  • Preparation:
  • If the ribs are not already pre-cut, cut the ribs into smaller, single pieces
  • Trim any excess fat off the ribs
  • Finely chop the garlic
  • Grind the garlic, salt, 5 spice powder and star anise in a mortar and pestle
  • Massage the mixture and food colouring onto the ribs
  • Cover and let this marinate in the fridge for one day
  • Cooking:
  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius
  • Place the ribs on a roasting tray
  • Roast ribs for 30-40 minutes
  • Once cooked, let ribs cool. Enjoy 🙂


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