Cajun-Rubbed and Sugarcane-Glazed Spareribs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
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Serves: 4
Sugarcane Mopping Sauce (makes about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup sugarcane molasses, such as Steen’s
  • ¼ cup sugarcane vinegar, such as Steen’s or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard, such as Zatarain’s
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ¼ cup water
Acadiana Table Cajun Rib Rub (makes 2 cups)
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 4 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 racks St Louis style pork spareribs (3 to 4 pounds each), trimmed with membrane removed
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups apple juice
Sugarcane Mopping Sauce (makes about 2 cups)
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, add all the ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Keep warm until ready to use. Any excess should be stored in a jar with tight-fitting lid and refrigerated for up to a month.
Acadiana Table Cajun Rib Rub (makes 2 cups)
  1. In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients and combine. Pour into a clean, dry Mason jar and seal. Stored in a dry pantry, it should keep for six months or longer.
  1. Rinse the spareribs and pat dry. Move them to a tray and inspect that the tough membrane has been removed. Rub the ribs with oil and coat evenly with the dry rub mix. Place on the tray, cover with foil and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat your gas grill by turning on the burners on one side of the grill only. Clean the grill on the other side where the ribs will cook. Place an oven thermometer on the grill and cover.
  3. In a disposable 6-inch deep aluminum foil pan, fill halfway with a combination of hickory wood chips and chunks that have soaked in water for at least 1 hour. Seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil and poke a few holes in the foil cover. In another aluminum foil container, pour the water and apple juice to the halfway point.
  4. On the cold side of the grill, add the ribs meat side down. On the hot side of the grill, remove the grates and place the aluminum foil pan containing the hickory wood directly over the burners. Reduce the burners to low and replace the grates. Position the pan of water/apple juice on the grates directly over the burners and wood. Check the thermometer and adjust the gas burners to bring to and maintain a temperature of 275ºF. Close the grill and let cook watching to see that smoke is ventilating from the closed grill as it cooks.
  5. After 1 hour, the smoke should no longer be ventilating and it is time to check the first cooking. Open the cover, check the inside temperature and replenish the hickory wood as well as adding more liquid, if needed. Cover the grill and cook for a second hour of smoking.
  6. After 2 hours, the smoke will have done its job. Open the cover and remove the water pan as well as the hickory wood pan. Turn the ribs over to the bone side and continue cooking for another hour.
  7. At this point (3 hours of cooking), uncover the grill and wrap the ribs in aluminum foil. Again, check to see that the temperature is maintained at 275ºF. Cover the grill and continue cooking for 1 hour.
  8. Uncover the grill and unwrap the ribs. With a knife, remove one of the ribs to check for doneness. Well-cooked spareribs should not “fall-off-the-bone”, but rather should tug away from the bone and still have enough texture to bite into. There should also be a crimson colored smoke ring around the meat. If the meat is not sufficiently cooked to a tenderness, then rewrap in foil and cook longer checking for doneness each half hour.
  9. Once the ribs are tender, mop on the sugarcane sauce with a generous coating on both sides. Place the ribs (in the aluminum foil uncovered) back on the grill, close the grill and let cook just until the sauce warms through and the glaze sets, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Note: control your heat and be sure not to let the sauce burn.)
  10. Remove the ribs to a tray, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. For serving, slice the ribs along each bone and pile onto a platter with more of the sugarcane sauce on the side. In South Louisiana, we serve barbecue with hot French bread, cold potato salad, and baked beans. Oh, and lots of ice-cold beer.
For the ribs, find a good butcher that specializes in pork. Ask him for the St. Louis cut spareribs. These rib racks are cleaned and trimmed by removing the tips, sternum bone, membrane and surrounding cartilage. NEVER parboil ribs to make them tender...enough said.
For the rub, you will see that this rib rub contains a healthy dose of salt for dry brining which helps retain moisture and form bark (crust) on the ribs. The other ingredients are pungent spices for pronounced flavor, not subtle herbs that tend to get lost in the smoking. This rub does not contain any sugar in order to prevent burning in the early stages of cooking. And remember, the ribs will be glazed with a sweet mopping sauce at the end.
For the glaze, this is a sweet, tangy sauce that should be added at the final stage of cooking. Watch carefully -- a properly sauced rack of ribs should have a warm sticky glaze but never burnt and blackened.
Recipe by Acadiana Table at