Inspired by a dish we tried at a local Hawaiian restaurant, The Godfather created grilled root beer sticky ribs! With an addicting sweet and spicy flavor, this is a great unique grilling recipe to try.
While we lived in California, we had the opportunity to try casual Hawaiian food. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of how Cuban food is plated for lunch in South Florida: every meal comes with white rice, food is served in white Styrofoam plate containers, and while very tasty, you will likely need to cancel your afternoon plans. Actually, it’s not all that different from your “meat-and-three” plate lunches in the South as well. What the Godmother and I really enjoyed about Hawaiian food best though, was sharing the experience with the Godmother’s baby sister, who would request a trip to eat Hawaiian every time she came to visit.
Upon our move to the DC metro area, we wondered if we would have the same access to the foods and cuisines we were exposed to in California. To our delight, we found a wonderful Hawaiian restaurant in Arlington, and it was rather upscale by comparison (read: no Styrofoam plate containers). This place not only had all the things we would find in casual Hawaiian food, but also offered some new items we had not discovered yet. We finally had a chance to try it when the Godmother’s sister requested to have her birthday dinner there.
It was there that I saw their offering of root beer sticky ribs. I was intrigued at the thought of using root beer as the base for a barbecue sauce. I ordered a plate of those ribs, and I was not disappointed, and I resolved to replicate the recipe.
While many barbecue experts claim to not rely heavily on the sauce (liars!), making a quality sticky root beer barbecue sauce is the focal point of this recipe. I recommend using a quality root beer not made with corn syrup (look for the kind that says “old fashioned” or “made with cane sugar”) and to exercise patience when making/reducing the sauce so you allow it enough time to get thick enough to become “sticky”. The latter is especially true as you apply the still-reducing sauce to the ribs with every flip.
Enjoy, and keep the wet wipes handy!
- 2 racks of spareribs (approx. 3.5 lbs each)
- 24 oz root beer (two 12 oz bottles)
- ¼ c soy sauce
- ¼ c ketchup
- ¼ c yellow mustard
- 2 T honey
- 1 T Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 t cornstarch
- ½ t ground black pepper
- Remove spareribs from refrigeration and let it rest on the counter as you prepare the sauce and grill. If you can, cut and remove the thin membrane that may be present on the bony-side of the ribs.
- In a large saucepan, mix all other ingredients except for the cornstarch. Bring mixture to a boil, add the cornstarch, and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce throughout cooking time.
- Set your grill temperature between 225 and 250 degrees. Be sure to arrange the heat source in a way where the ribs will sit beside it (not directly over the coals or burners). Place the meat bony-side down on the grill, brush with sauce and let it cook for 45 minutes.
- Flip the ribs in a way where the side farthest away from the heat source is now the closest. Brush the top side with sauce and let it cook for another 45 minutes.
- Repeat the last step three times before removing from the grill. Apply final brush of sauce to the ribs before serving. If there is sauce remaining in the saucepan, use for dipping.