Salt and pepper spare ribs recipe

(629 ratings)

These salt and pepper spare ribs are great as a starter for any Chinese cuisine. They would also be perfect grilled on the BBQ in the summer.

Salt and pepper spare ribs
(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)
Preparation Time2 hours
Cooking Time3 hours
Total Time5 hours
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories1349 Kcal67%
Sugar3.1 g3%
Fat91.2 g130%
Saturated Fat35.4 g177%
Salt5.28 gRow 4 - Cell 2
Protein127.4 g255%
Carbohydrates3.8 g1%
Salt5.28 gRow 7 - Cell 2

Our salt and pepper spare ribs are seriously sticky and mouth-wateringly moreish.

These salt and pepper ribs are a classic Chinese specialty. The secret to their melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and crispy texture is to cook them twice. First, slow-cook them in a slow cooker or casserole dish in a low oven, giving the meat time to leisurely fall off the bone. Then toss them in salt and spices and deep-fry to seal in flavour, and make them extra sticky. You will need to plan ahead with this recipe, as for the best results, we suggest marinating these salt and pepper spare ribs for a couple of hours beforehand in Chinese rice wine and light soy sauce. Enjoy them on their own as a decadent starter, or make a meal of it and serve alongside some easy egg fried rice.

Read our tried and tested reviews of the best slow cookers.


  • 1 rack pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs

For the spice coating:

  • 1tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • ½tsp Chinese five spice powder

For the marinade:

  • 1tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • Freshly ground black pepper




  1. Grind all the ingredients for the spice mix in a coffee grinder to a powder.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the marinade by mixing half the spice mix and the marinade ingredients in a freezer bag or bowl. Add the ribs and leave in the fridge for at least 2hrs, or overnight.
  3. Add a little water to a slow cooker and cook the ribs and their marinade on low for 2-3hrs, until the meat is very tender, almost falling off the bone. If you don’t have a slow cooker, put the ribs and a little water in a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid and put them in the oven at 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 for the same length of time.
  4. Drain the ribs and pat dry. Toss again in the other half of the spice mixture to coat.
  5. Fill a large frying pan or wok with sunflower oil to a depth of 2cm and heat on the hob. When the oil is smoking hot, deep fry the ribs in batches for 1-2 mins. Drain on kitchen paper. Transfer to a plate and serve.

Top tips for making salt and pepper spare ribs:

Be sure to buy ribs that have already been individually cut to save you the time and task. Independent butchers or meat counters at supermarkets should be able to help you out with this.

Why not serve these ribs as part of a Chinese feast alongside some sesame prawn toast and crispy duck pancakes.

Jessica Dady
Food Editor

Jessica Dady is Food Editor at GoodtoKnow and has over 11 years of experience as a digital editor, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the must-buy seasonal food hampers and advent calendars for Christmas to the family-friendly air fryers that’ll make dinner time a breeze, Jessica loves trying and testing various food products to find the best of the best for the busy parents among us. Over the years of working with GoodtoKnow, Jessica has had the privilege of working alongside Future’s Test Kitchen to create exclusive videos - as well as writing, testing, and shooting her own recipes. When she’s not embracing the great outdoors with her family at the weekends, Jessica enjoys baking up a storm in the kitchen with her favourite bakes being chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and a tray of gooey chocolate brownies