Spiced Sweet-and-Sour Ribs

Rubbed with toasted ground spices then lacquered with a sweet and tangy glaze of maple syrup and a duo of vinegars, these meaty ribs have a deep flavor and an irresistibly crackly crust. To work ahead, you can roast the ribs the day before then glaze and broil them just before serving. Trimming the meat away from one end of each rib lets the meat pull away during cooking, creating handles that make for mess-free nibbling.

Total TimeServings
3 hr10


  • 2 slabs baby back ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bottled balsamic reduction (such as Alessi)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup


Step 1

Preheat oven to 300°F with rack positioned 8 inches from heat source. Using a paper towel, pull membrane off back of ribs, and discard. Using a boning knife or paring knife, trim 1/2 inch of meat from the thin ends of the ribs to reveal the bones; scrape the exposed bones clean.

Step 2

Cook caraway, coriander, fennel, and cumin in a small skillet over medium, stirring and swirling skillet often, until toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a spice grinder. Let cool about 5 minutes. Process until ground into a coarse powder, about 30 seconds.

Step 3

Sprinkle ribs generously with salt and pepper to taste; rub ribs all over with ground spice mixture. Place ribs, meaty side up, on a broiler-safe wire rack set inside a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Step 4

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add onion and 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, balsamic reduction, and maple syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium-high; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 2/3 cup, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step 5

Remove ribs from oven, and heat broiler to high. Flip ribs meaty side down. Brush ribs with some of the onion glaze. Return to oven, and broil, watching carefully, until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven; flip ribs, and brush top with some of the glaze. Return to oven; broil until browned on other side, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven; flip ribs, and brush with remaining glaze. Continue broiling until ribs look sticky and shiny, 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 6

Transfer ribs to a carving board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut ribs between bones to separate, and mound ribs on a serving platter

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