Honey-Tamarind Baby Back Ribs


Naturally tart tamarind keeps the honey-based barbecue sauce from becoming too sweet for the luscious, slow-cooked ribs. Opt for dark, runny tamarind concentrate instead of tamarind pulp, which needs to be soaked and strained before using; it's available at Asian markets.

Honey-Tamarind Baby Back Ribs
Photo: © Quentin Bacon
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs


  • 2 racks baby back ribs (5 1/4 pounds)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup clover or other mild honey

  • 1/4 cup ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate

  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian chile paste, such as sambal oelek


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Put the ribs on the baking sheet and season on both sides with salt and black pepper. Bake the ribs, meaty side up, for 2 1/2 hours, or until tender.

  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend the honey, ketchup, soy sauce, ginger, tamarind, garlic and chile paste until smooth.

  3. Increase the oven temperature to 450°. Drain the fat from the baking sheet. Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce. Roast the ribs, bony side up, for 10 minutes, until richly browned. Turn the ribs over, brush with more sauce and roast for 5 minutes, until browned. Brush the ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce and roast for 5 minutes longer, until deeply browned and glossy. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut the racks into ribs and serve.


Variation: Grill the ribs over moderately low heat, turning and brushing frequently with the sauce, until cooked through.

Serve With

Asian coleslaw.

Suggested Pairing

For these sweet, tangy ribs, a red wine with luscious fruit character, like Grenache, is a good idea. It produces some of its best wines in northeastern Spain, where it is known as Garnacha.

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