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Nana's Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs and "Barb"-ecue Sauce from The Food Charlatan

Nana’s Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs and “Barb”-ecue Sauce

This slow-roasted then grilled recipe for fall-off-the-bone pork ribs is famous in my husband Eric's family. His grandma, "Nana," has been making these ribs every 4th of July for decades. Her "Barb"-ecue sauce recipe (her name is Barbara) is absolutely incredible! 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Standing Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 883kcal
Author Karen


For the ribs:

  • heavy foil
  • 7 pounds racks of ribs
  • Applewood rub or your favorite dry rub

For the sauce:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4-8 drops Tabasco sauce


  • Lay out a generous amount of heavy foil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Lay one rack of ribs on the foil and rub generously with Applewood rub. You can be generous. I used 2-3 tablespoons per rack, but it is really up to you.
  • Wrap the foil around the ribs so that it is completely covered.
  • Repeat with the other rack of ribs.
  • Let the ribs sit for 30 minutes. Or overnight. Or no time at all, if you're in a hurry.
  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.
  • Put the ribs in the oven and roast for about 3 hours. Take the ribs out when they are fork-tender.

For the sauce: Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a 3 quart pot. Stir together over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.

  • Lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool. It will thicken more as it cools down.
  • When the ribs are done, take them out of the oven and unwrap the foil. Cut the ribs into 1, 2, or 3 piece sections, whatever you like.
  • Heat your grill to medium high, about 450 degrees F.
  • Generously brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce. Or pull an Eric and dunk them in the sauce completely. (The ribs are cooked. Stop looking at me like I'm a heathen.)
  • Grill the ribs for about 2-3 minutes per side, until there are grill marks.
  • Remove from the grill and cover with foil until ready to serve.
  • Serve ribs with the remaining sauce. Eat with your hands!


*You can use any kind of ribs that you like. Spare ribs or Baby Back are good. Spare ribs are what I used for these photos. They are a lot meatier than Baby Back, so they will serve more people.
A note on the sauce: I like to have this much sauce for 2 racks, but this is a generous amount. If you are doubling the recipe, you may only need to 1 and 1/2 the sauce recipe.
I made this once without grilling before we bought a grill. After removing the ribs from the oven and brushing with sauce, raise the temperature to 300 degrees F. Return it to the oven uncovered for 20 minutes. Brush with sauce again, cook another 20 minutes, or until fork tender.
Source: This recipe is from Eric's grandmother, Barbara Johnson, or Nana. She's also the contributor of this classic Beef Barley Soup.


Serving: 0.5rack | Calories: 883kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 65g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 222mg | Sodium: 1602mg | Potassium: 1068mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 475IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 4mg