Sweet and Sour Ribs (An old family recipe)

My local store, New Seasons Market had pastured (grass fed) ribs on sale for $.99 a pound Father’s Day weekend. I bought ten pounds to make for my dad, my husband and our extended family and another 5 pounds for the freezer.  I borrowed my mother’s recipe (handed down from my great aunt) for sweet and sour ribs. Tangy and sweet, these ribs were a favorite among both the grown-ups and the kids when we did family meals together growing up in California. They are about as messy as you can get, but worth it.

While the snobby side of me complained a little with this recipe (“What is this? Doctored up ketchup?”), I contented myself by simply using better ingredients for the recipe. I used organic ketchup that didn’t use corn syrup (if I had time I would have made my own to save money), rapadura to sweeten it with instead of plain sugar (and reduced the amount as well), and apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar (which, unless organic, is often made with GMO ingredients). Still not the healthiest rib recipe out there, but it was well enjoyed by all of us!

I told you it was messy! This is how my dad looked at one point.

I served it with baked potatoes with sour cream, butter, chives and bacon bits and a large salad. It was really a simple meal, but super delicious. Definitely a meal to make the men happy (and really was pretty frugal too). I am labeling this is a $10 dollar main because that’s what it cost me to make one batch of it.

I doubled the recipe for ten pounds of ribs (it fed 7 adults and three kids with leftovers, as the ribs were very meaty).  Yum!


Sweet and Sour Ribs

1 onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through a garlic press
2 tablespoons coconut oil, lard, tallow, olive oil, or fat of choice
2 cups of ketchup (use a brand that doesn’t use corn syrup)
3/4 cup of whole cane sugar (rapadura, sucanat, or coconut sugar)
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
About 5 pounds of beef back ribs

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the ribs single layer on jelly roll pans, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour in the middle of the oven.

2) Meanwhile make the sauce: In a large saucepan, heat the oil/fat until hot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Sauté until soft, adding garlic in the last minute or two of cooking.

3) Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a low simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring once in a while

4) When the hour is done for the ribs, take out of the oven and cut into individual ribs (if you used two pans, you can now probably fit all of the ribs onto one sheet at this point). Pour the sauce over all of the ribs, turning to coat them well. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve with lots of napkins and enjoy!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Claudia Ritter says

    $.99 a pound for pastured meat!? Wow – I think the closest I’ve seen to that price locally (San Diego County, CA) is $3.99 a pound for grass-fed ground beef. I hope more consumers realize the value in pastured products and purchase it as much as possible to begin to drive the price down. I managed to get pastured eggs on the shelf of my local co-op and see pastured products at Whole Foods, but it’s pricey stuff.

  2. says

    These look great!!! I have a BBQ ribs recipe and BBQ beans recipe from my grandma that we had at every family picnic when I was growing up, and I pretty much did what you did with buying better ingredients! Some things, you just can’t mess with (all the way at least…) and .99 per pound for pastured ribs is awesome! Did you buy the whole store out? I would have!

  3. says

    Delicious! We love using Bison when making ribs. It adds a whole new layer of flavors to the end product. You should try it sometime!

  4. Leesie says

    Wow, great price and great store! Thanks for sharing another family recipe 🙂 you rock, Kimi. I hope all is well with the ‘little ones’ and you are feeling good.

  5. Anne Marie says

    Do you think this could be done on the grill? I was thinking of trying it here today (with temperatures over the 100s I didn’t want to use the oven).

  6. Anne Marie says

    Finally the weather allowed me to try this. Absolutely wonderful. When I was making the sauce I was scared because it was very acidic, but with the roasting in the oven it…(going into a food coma)… Just wonderful! My husband loved them and wants me to try the sauce on other things like tri-tip and roast. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Kelly says


    Just checking on the amount of the apple cider vinegar—is it really 12 tablespoons or is it 1-2 tablespoons?




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