St. Louis BBQ Spare Ribs Recipe by Pitmaster Chris Lilly

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Be the hero of your grill this summer with this St Louis BBQ spare ribs recipe featuring a Coffee & Cocoa Dry Rub. You just never know who’ll show up for your cookout when they smell this cooking!

This video how-to guide for perfect pork ribs by Chris Lilly is a great overview before beginning. It even shows you how to add a smoked flavor if you wish.

Smoking Ribs with Chris Lilly

St. Louis BBQ Spare Ribs

  • 7 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground coffee
  • 2½ tsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¾ tsp ancho chile pepper
  • ⅛ tsp coriander
  • ⅛ tsp turmeric
  • 2 racks Smithfield St. Louis Style Pork Spareribs
  1. Remove membrane from rack of ribs. Chris Lilly, “If you don’t remove the membrane, it takes on a waxed paper consistency and is not a great chew.” With a paper towel, grab the end of the membrane on the back of the ribs and pull.

Prepare Grill

  1. Build a charcoal fire for indirect cooking using the 2-zone fire. Situate the coals on only one side of the charcoal grill, leaving the other side void. Add a small aluminum pan to the void side of the grill and fill it halfway with water. (Leave burners off on one side or the front of a barbecue or electric grill.) For more info on the 2-zone method, see

Prepare Rub

  1. In small bowl, combine salt, brown sugar, chili powder, coffee, cocoa, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ancho chile pepper, coriander and turmeric.
  2. Generously apply the dry rub onto the front and back sides of ribs. Gently pat to ensure that the rub will adhere. (Even though it’s called a ‘rub’, there’s no need to rub it in.) Let them sit for 15-20 minutes.

BBQ Ribs

  1. When the grill reaches 250°F, place ribs meat-side up on grill grate above the void area, close lid and cook until ribs are tender, about 3 1/2 hours. (If you’re going to use wood chips or briquets for smoking, add them to the charcoal just before placing ribs on grill.)
  2. Remove ribs from grill and let rest, uncovered, 5 – 10 minutes to reabsorb its juices. Your meat will not get cold, it actually continues to cook while resting. Slice ribs between bones and serve.

Source: Recipe by Chris Lilly with

Want to see more of Chris Lilly’s recipes?

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See more of Chris Lilly’s recipes in his cookbooks.

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