Competition Barbecue Spare Ribs

Competition Barbecue Spare Ribs, Oven, Instant Pot or Smoked

These are the spare ribs you’re going to want again and again; classic flavors in a “dry” rib and fantastic smoked on the grill, from the oven or in the Instant Pot.



For the Ribs:

  • 1 to 4 racks of ribs, trimmed, membrane removed. See note.

For the rub:

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/3 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons table salt or 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


  • Depending on how many racks of ribs are being made, you may have extra rub. Store tightly covered in a dark, cool, cupboard.
  • If you’re cooking in a 6 quart instant pot, only 1 rack of ribs plus the trimmings will fit at a time. If not cooking trimmings,  2 racks will fit. IAll other methods, use one to four racks.


Prepare as directed on the site by trimming if necessary and removing the membrane. Sprinkle with three or four tablespoons of the rub if using the Instant Pot, a little more if oven roasting or smoking. Gently pat on to ribs if needed; do not actually rub. If time allows, wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

To smoke: Set up grill for indirect heat (See PDF) with desired wood chips. Place ribs, bone side down over drip pan filled with two to three cups water. Cover and cook at 225 degrees F. for four to six hours, until done. Replace wood chips and water as needed.

To oven roast: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place ribs on a rack over a large foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and add a cup and a half of water to the pan. Roast until done, adding more water as needed. Cover the ribs with additional foil after one hour of cooking. Total time will be about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove the pan with the ribs from the oven. Drain the liquid (save if making soup) and place ribs back on the pan. Turn on broiler and broil ribs, about six inches away from the element, until the rub becomes bubbly and caramelized.

To cook in instant pot:

Add one cup water to the bottom of the Instant Pot and rack if there is room. Curl ribs and place in Instant Pot vertically, trimmings in the center. Seal and cook on High Pressure for 25 minutes. Allow to go to the keep warm function and after 20 minutes, release the remaining pressure. Place ribs on a foil lined pan. Sprinkle with more rub, a little or a lot, depending on your preference. Turn on broiler and broil ribs, about six inches away from the element, until the rub becomes bubbly and caramelized.


There will be extra rub. Allow extra time to let the ribs sit in the rub. See PDF on setting up grill if you’re planning to rig your grill for smoking.

Keywords: Barbecue, Instant Pot, Pork, Pork Ribs, rib rub, ribs

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