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Cleveland BBQ Pork Ribs

Cleveland-style BBQ ribs
Yosef Herzog / TODAY

Chef notes

"Typical classic Cleveland BBQ is braised in a heavy acidic vinegar mixture, then mopped with a tomato-based sauce," says chef Rocco Whalen of Cleveland's Fahrenheit Restaurant.


St. Louis Cut Pork Ribs with Rocco's Rub
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 6-8 St. Louis cut pork sparerib racks
Old School Tomato BBQ Sauce
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1/3 cup garlic, chopped
  • 1 quart red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1/2 quart molasses
  • 6 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Thai chiles


For the pork ribs:

In a large bowl, add all of the rub ingredients. Stir to combine. Rub the ribs with the mixture completely. Marinate the ribs in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300 F to 350 F.

Place the ribs in a large braising pot and cover them. Roast the ribs for 2½ to 3 hours. After the ribs are roasted, lather them in the sauce religiously.

For the old school tomato BBQ sauce:

In a large pot, sweat and caramelize the red onion, peppers, apples and garlic until the onions are showing color. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring t a boil and then simmer for 35 minutes. Strain if your desired thickness is thin. For a thicker result, puree the ingredients and do not strain them.