Cider & Lager Spare Ribs

Posted on Nov 6, 2011

Download PDF Low and slow are the words of the day for this recipe–just the thing for surviving an October snowstorm. WHAT? Yeah, that happened, and were you ready with some warm, tasty comfort food? Well fear not, ‘cause now you have this recipe at the ready!

The cider, beer and multitude of spices combine to really infuse the ribs with amazing flavor all on their own. Reduce the sauce down a bit and add a little brown sugar, and you have a delicious BBQ sauce to glaze that succulent meat. I love pork spare ribs with this, mostly because I love pork, but also because it is a really cheap cut of meat that dresses up real spiffy after a few hours in the oven. Beef short ribs will work just as nicely.This is a great ‘make-ahead’ one pot meal, and it’s a perfect party meal, because you can stick it in the oven hours before the party, finish the sauce just before the guests arrive, and keep it warm in the oven until you’re ready to eat. It can also be adapted to a slow cooker, too.

Cider & Lager Spare Ribs

Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 3 hrs | Servings: 6 servings | Difficulty: Medium


3-4 lbs pork spare ribs (can use beef short ribs, too!)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 tart apple, Granny Smith or Fuji, cored and roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
salt & pepper
1 bottle lager or ale
1 cup apple cider
6 whole allspice
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp ground New Mexican chilis
1 6-inch sprig fresh rosemary (do not substitute dried)
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
For sauce:
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup Kansas City-style BBQ sauce
salt & pepper to taste


Heavily season the spare ribs with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a heavy dutch oven, sauté the onion and apple in olive oil over medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, allowing them to get some color. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beer and cider, the herbs and spices, sugar and molasses. Bring to a simmer. Add the ribs, adding enough water to bring liquid level up almost to the top (but not covering) the ribs. Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to a 325 degree oven.

Stir once an hour for 2 hours. Uncover and return to oven for 30 minutes. Take the ribs out of the liquid. Strain and de-fat the liquid (this is why you have that fat separator measuring cup; if you don’t have one, GO! They’re cheap and do this job amazingly well, and FAST). Return the liquid and ribs to the Dutch oven and return uncovered to oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Take the ribs out of the liquid. Add the brown sugar and bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat until reduced by a third. Add the BBQ sauce and salt & pepper to taste and cook until thickened, 1-2 minutes.
Add the ribs and toss to coat in the sauce
OR take out the bones and shred the meat with two forks, then add the sauce to taste.
Serve over risotto, rice, polenta, or shred it and put on a bun!