How to Make Kansas City Style Ribs

5 from 9 votes

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Kansas City Style Ribs are typically characterized by the thick, sticky sauce brushed on in the last 30 minutes of cooking. The dry rub and sauce are on the sweet side using a brown sugar base, but are balanced with chili powder and pepper, producing some truly finger licking good ribs.

Kansas City Style Ribs are typically characterized by the thick, sticky sauce brushed on in the last 30 minutes of cooking. The dry rub and sauce are on the sweet side using a brown sugar base, but are balanced with chili powder and pepper, producing some truly finger licking good ribs.


I give you step by step directions to make the Kansas City Style Ribs dry rub that can be used on either baby back or spare ribs, a delicious Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce and how to grill, smoke or bake these killer ribs.

Be sure to ask your butcher to remove the membrane from the back of the rack, and trim the pork ribs of any excess fat.

How to Make Kansas City Style Ribs

If you pick them up already packaged simply make a slit on the back side and pull the thin, shiny membrane off the ribs. Below you can see these are cleaned and ready for the dry rub.

How to Make Kansas City Style Ribs

I believe this is the fourth in my Ribs Series this year and it’s a classic style of rib namely due to the Kansas City Style dry rub and sauce.

With a 2/1 ratio of brown sugar to paprika and the usual dry rub spices like garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper, chili and cayenne pepper, this is a great balance of sweet and savory with a slight kick. Use less cayenne if heat is not your thing. Bump up the heat if you like, too.

How to Make Kansas City Style Ribs

After the dry rub the baby backs are wrapped in aluminum foil and refrigerated to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, but feel free to do it overnight.

If the grill or smoker isn’t an option, I got you covered with instructions to make these in the oven, but just add a little liquid smoke to the Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce for the outdoor grill flavor.

Kansas City Style Ribs with BBQ Sauce

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place the ribs, bone side down, on top of a wire rack set in an aluminum foil lined baking tray and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours for spare ribs or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for baby back ribs. Halfway through, cover ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out.

In the last hour of grilling/smoking, baste the top of each rack with the reserved marinade or BBQ sauce every 15 minutes and close the lid. At this point they should be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 195°F. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes prior to cutting.

What to do with any leftovers?

If there are any leftover ribs, I typically make my BBQ Pork with Cheesy Grits. Leftover pork ribs get shredded and simmered in your favorite BBQ sauce and top creamy, cheesy grits for a Southern inspired dinner that’s sure to satisfy.

For other killer rib ideas, learn How to Make Baby Back RibsHow to Make St. Louis Style Ribs, or these How to Make Memphis Style Ribs. Enjoy!

How to Make Kansas City Style Ribs
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Kansas City Style Ribs are typically characterized by the thick, sticky sauce brushed on in the last 30 minutes of cooking. The dry rub and sauce are on the sweet side using a brown sugar base, but are balanced with chili powder and pepper, producing some truly finger licking good ribs.

How to Make Kansas City Style Ribs

5 from 9 votes
Kansas City Style Ribs are characterized by a brown sugar spice dry rub and thick, sticky sauce brushed on in the last 30 minutes of cooking. Nutritional info is for ribs only. See other recipes for Nutrition info for Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce and Dry Rub.
Servings: 6
Prep: 2 hours 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Whisk together the Kansas City Style Dry Rub spices together and set aside.
  • Remove the membrane from the back of the rack, and trim the pork ribs of any excess fat. Rub each rack liberally with the rub on both sides. Wrap ribs in foil or large container and refrigerate over night (optional, minimum 2 hours).
  • Remove the ribs from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Soak wood chips and start your grill or smoker.
  • Mix together the Kansas City Style barbecue sauce recipe and set aside or use your favorite.

For the Grill:

  • If you like it low and slow, set up the grill and preheat to 225°F. Add smoker chips per manufacturer’s instructions if using.
  • Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate, cover the grill and and cook the ribs about 4 to 5 hours for baby backs or 5 to 6 hours for spare ribs.
  • In the last hour of grilling/smoking, baste the top of each rack with the reserved marinade or BBQ sauce every 15 minutes and close the lid. At this point they should be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers.
  • Remove from the grill and let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the ribs.
  • If you don’t have the time: Set up the grill and preheat to medium (325° to 350°F). 
  • Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate, cover the grill and cook the ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 hours for spare ribs or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for baby back ribs.
  • In the last hour of grilling/smoking, baste the top of each rack with the reserved marinade or BBQ sauce every 15 minutes and close the lid. At this point they should be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 195°F. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes prior to cutting.
  • Remove from the grill and let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the ribs.

For the Smoker:

  • Set up and light the smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat it to low (225°F). Add smoker chips per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Place the ribs in the smoker bone side down and smoke until cooked through, 4 to 5 hours for baby backs or 5 to 6 hours for spare ribs.
  • In the last 2 hours of grilling/smoking, baste the top of each rack with the reserved marinade or BBQ sauce every 15 minutes and close the lid. At this point they should be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 195°F.
  • Remove from the smoker and let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the ribs.

For the Oven:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Place the ribs, bone side down, on top of a wire rack set in an aluminum foil lined baking tray and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours for spare ribs or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for baby back ribs. Halfway through, cover ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out.
  • In the last 1/2 hour of baking, baste the top of each rack with the barbecue sauce, re-cover with foil, and finish cooking. At this point they should be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 195°F. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes prior to cutting.

For the Instant Pot:

  • Place trivet in bottom of pot and add 1 cup of water (or apple/pineapple juice, optional).
  • Set ribs upright on the trivet so they are not stacked on top of one another.
  • Close lid and vent. Select Manual Pressure and set timer for 24 minutes (25-28 minutes depending if they’re extra meaty). 
  • Once done, allow the Instant Pot to go through natural release.
  • Brush with marinade or barbecue sauce (or olive oil/seasoning for dry ribs) and broil or grill until slightly sticky and slightly charred.

Notes

  1. Only use the liquid smoke if baking in the kitchen. Add it to the BBQ Sauce before basting in last 30 minutes of baking, but this is optional.
  2. For pork, the accepted finished temperature is 145°F. However, the collagen inside your ribs hasn’t had time to become gelatin for that perfect bite, which happens when the internal temperatures reach 165°F. It’s recommended to continue cooking ribs until they reach an internal temperature of 195°F to 200°F for that fall off the bone goodness.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1096mg | Potassium: 211mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 2964IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Southern, Western
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
Kansas city style ribs

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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22 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Kevin,

    I have no doubt that your rub and sauce will surely rival that of the local purveyors, and I will definitely give it a try. 

    I’ve sent along a couple of links on the History of KC BBQ. Currently, KC BBQ has become rather diverse and has perhaps deviated somewhat from the original style. Only Arthur Bryant’s and Gate’s can trace their roots to Henry Perry, “the Barbecue King.” But I like Joe’s too! After all, the “best” BBQ is what YOU like best!

    The History Of BBQ In Kansas City – Learning Backyard BBQ (learnbbq.com)

    The history behind Kansas City-style barbecue and its star burnt ends | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports (fox4kc.com)

    Enjoy!
    “Raj”

  2. I am right here in Kansas City looking up these ribs…crazy me, but this recipe is spot on the money. Thanks for posting, I usually have the hardest time figuring out how much salt….that’s why I came a-looking. Mine are just waiting for me to remove cornbread from the oven and then I’ll pop these in. Thanks again

  3. 5 stars
    After the recent kerfuffle regarding Kansas City Style BBQ, I guess I really must give this a go. Oh, and hey, turns out the local butcher has “pork belly ribs” on special, I have all the ingredients and a quiet Saturday ahead…

  4. 5 stars
    I made these same ribs last weekend but FAST, in a 400 degree oven for about 3 1/2 hours! Brushed on bbq sauce and they fell off the bone!

  5. The key to this recipe is your spice rub. I checked out your Kansas City BB-Q sauce, and it’s the same as mine (yay!) But I am going to try out your rub. Yours has a bite to it, cayenne and red pepper flakes are different than my own and I’m really ready to try this out soon. My family likes savory/sweet with emphasis on savory. As we crack out our outdoor furniture slowly ( we live in rain country northwest) so goes our BB-que. Thanks for posting a recipe we haven’t tried before.

  6. 5 stars
    It’s almost lunch time, and now I’m craving these ribs, Kevin! These meaty bad boys most definitely look finger lickin’ good!!! Pinning! Cheers!

  7. 5 stars
    My son Casey gets home from college in a few short days and I’ll need to make him these ribs for sure Kevin! They look totally droolworthy and right up Casey’s alley!!

    1. A complete recipe from dry rub, to BBQ sauce to rib recipe. And a BIG congrats to Casey for graduating UMich!