The History Behind American Barbecue Ribs

Barbecue ribs in the United States are a delicious and beloved classic dish that is served at many American barbecues and gatherings. While barbecuing has been around since ancient times, the method of cooking ribs with long, slow heat has been adopted as a classic way to make ribs since the 1700s. The slow and steady cooking of the ribs ensures that the pork is cooked all the way through, making it extra juicy and tender.

Leading up to the 19th century, barbecuing was a slower, labor-intensive process, with ribs living the coals for hours. The sauce was often just molasses and vinegar, giving them a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. In the early 1800s, German immigrants brought their techniques, which included dry-rubbing the ribs and basting them in sauces.

By the 20th century, Barbecue became a staple in the South, with states like Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina all developing their own signature saucing and spice rubs. Kansas City-style Barbecue ribs are slow cooked, covered in sauces, and then oven-baked. Memphis-style Barbecue ribs are slowly cooked and then served dry, without any sauce.

These classic styles of Barbecue ribs still remain popular today and make a great addition to any gathering. Here is a classic American Barbecue Rib recipe.

American Barbecue Ribs


  • 4 racks of pork ribs
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce


  • Preheat your oven to 250 ˚F.
  • In a small bowl, mix the garlic powder, paprika, sea salt, ground black pepper and brown sugar together.
  • Rub the seasoning mix over the ribs and then place the ribs on a large foil-lined baking tray.
  • Pour the barbecue sauce over the ribs, making sure they’re sufficiently covered.
  • Cover the baking tray with foil and bake the ribs in the oven for 2.5–3 hours.
  • Once done, remove the ribs from the oven and let them cool down for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Nothing is quite as satisfying as the smoky, juicy, and tender Barbecue ribs that are synonymous with a great American barbecue. Whether you choose to make the classic Memphis or Kansas City-style, these ribs are sure to wow. Serve them alongside potato salad, cornbread, and other southern classics and your gathering will be complete.

To broaden your Barbecue rib knowledge, you can also try experimenting with different sauces, dry rubs, and woods to create your own unique flavor. For differentiating your Barbecue ribs even further, you can add fruit juice, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, or fresh herbs and spices to your rub or sauce. So get creative and have some fun with Barbecue ribs!