These Honey Garlic Spare Ribs are known as “Dry Garlic Ribs” on Canadian Chinese restaurant menus. The recipe involves succulent pork spareribs in a Chinese style sticky honey garlic sauce. The ribs themselves are not dry at all. In fact, they fall right off the bone. I think they are called “dry garlic spareribs” because they aren’t very saucy.
What are Honey Garlic Spare Ribs (a.k.a. “Dry Garlic Ribs”)? Here’s Why You’ll Love Them:
Honey Garlic Spare Ribs, also known as Dry Garlic Ribs are a delectable Chinese Canadian restaurant specialty with tender pork ribs coated in a garlicky, sweet, and savory sauce, then baked to sticky perfection. This dish can serve as an indulgent main course for dinner or as a hit at your next barbecue.
Succulent ribs dripping with some kind of sauce are probably up in my top 3 favourite foods. These ones are less sauce-y than many of my go-to ribs recipes, but they’re still among best loved. You start by slowly simmering them in an onion broth stove-top, then when they’re meltingly tender, you transfer them to a baking sheet and bake, basting with a sweet garlic-soy sauce until caramelized. Still satisfyingly sticky, but more guest-friendly than the sauce-swimming varieties – you don’t need to go completely caveman to eat them.
The simmering method renders a lot of the fat and leaves it behind in the pot, so the ribs aren’t as greasy as they often can be. Still falling off the bone, still full of rich, meaty flavour, but without the heaviness (and heartburn) associated with the recipes that let them swim in their own fat. You can do the simmering part well in advance of baking the ribs – great if you want to serve them at a party.
This is my mama’s recipe (adapted for more garlic). She often makes them around the holidays as part of a Chinese food feast. In fact, it’s one of my favorite Christmas recipes.
Gather Your Ingredients for Honey Garlic Spare Ribs
This recipe brings together some fantastic elements to create a lip-smacking, finger-licking delight. Let’s check out the main actors:
- Pork ribs: This is the star of our dish, providing that juicy, tender bite.
- Onion: Gives a subtle sweetness and depth to the dish.
- Salt & pepper: Basic seasonings to enhance the flavors.
- Soy sauce: Gives the dish its rich, savory, umami flavor.
- Honey and Brown sugar: Balances the saltiness with a touch of sweetness and helps create that sticky glaze.
- Garlic: Brings a punch of flavor and aroma to the dish.
- Cornstarch: Helps thicken the sauce to make it perfectly sticky.
How to Make Honey Garlic Spare Ribs: Easy Step-by-Step Directions
Here’s your roadmap to make these delicious dry garlic ribs taste as yummy as any Chinese Canadian restaurant:
- Simmer the ribs: This step tenderizes the meat, ensuring it’s juicy and falls right off the bone.
- Preheat the oven: An essential step to ensure proper cooking of the ribs.
- Whisk the sauce: Combines the flavors that will define your dish.
- Prepare the ribs: This is where you cut the ribs into portions and prepare them for baking.
- Baste and bake: This process gives your ribs that glazed, caramelized finish.
Grab these Tools
Before you get cooking, ensure you have these kitchen tools on hand:
- Large stockpot: Essential for simmering the ribs and making them tender.
- Whisk: To combine the sauce ingredients smoothly.
- Tongs: A safe and effective way to handle the cooked ribs.
- Foil-lined baking sheet: Ideal for baking the ribs and making cleanup easier.
How to Serve Dry Garlic Ribs: Choose the Perfect Side Dishes
The best meals are all about balance. Choose sides that will contrast and complement your rich main dish.
Stir-fried Bok Choy: Keep things light and green with stir-fried bok choy. Toss it in my Easy 3-Ingredient Stir Fry Sauce.
Green Salad: A crisp green salad with Creamy Asian Dressing would be the perfect crunchy, refreshing side.
Steamed white rice: To soak up any extra sauce
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
You can simmer the ribs a day in advance, keep them refrigerated, and bake them when needed.
After cooking, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat them in the oven or microwave until heated through.
Variations and Substitutions
For a different flavor profile, consider swapping out the brown sugar or honey or maple syrup.
Expert Tips and Tricks
The key to perfect Sticky Dry Garlic Ribs is patience. Allow the ribs to simmer fully to become tender and let them bake until the sauce caramelizes for that beautiful sticky glaze. Finally, remember to baste the ribs multiple times during baking to ensure an even coating of the delicious sauce.
If you love Asian takeout-inspired recipes, you must also try:
Pad Woon Sen: A delicious Thai stir-fried noodle dish with vegetables and your choice of protein.
Gochujang Chicken: Flavorful Korean-inspired chicken dish featuring the spicy and savory gochujang sauce.
Hunan Shrimp: A tasty Chinese shrimp recipe with a spicy, garlicky sauce that’s done in under 30 minutes.
Thai Basil Pork: A classic Thai dish featuring ground pork, fresh basil, and a savory sauce.
Chili Oil Ramen: A comforting and flavorful ramen recipe with a rich and spicy homemade chili oil.
Orange Chicken: A popular Chinese-American dish featuring crispy chicken in a tangy and sweet orange sauce.
Honey Garlic Chicken: An easy and delicious chicken recipe with a sticky honey garlic sauce.
Honey Garlic Spare Ribs (a.k.a. “Dry Garlic Ribs”)
- 2 racks pork ribs about 3 1/2 lbs total
- 1 medium onion
- salt & pepper
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Place ribs in a large stockpot; fill pot with water until ribs are covered. Add onion, a couple of generous pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Bring ribs to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours, or until ribs are very tender.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and cornstarch.
- Using tongs, carefully remove ribs from water (discard cooking liquid). Cut into individual portions (about 4 ribs per person) and place ribs, meaty side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Brush with 1/3 of the sauce and bake 45 minutes, basting twice more with sauce (after 15 and 30 minutes).
Last Updated on July 3, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD