Sticky Dry Garlic Ribs

Succulent ribs smothered in some kind of messy sauce are probably up in my top 3 favourite foods. These ones are less sauce-y than many of my go-to 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 on New Year’s Day as part of a Chinese food feast.

Sticky Dry Garlic Ribs

Servings 4
Main Course


  • 2 racks pork ribs about 3 1/2 lbs total
  • 1 medium onion
  • salt & pepper
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 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 October 2, 2012 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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