Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs Recipe

Welcome to the world of finger-licking deliciousness! If you’re looking for a recipe that will make your taste buds sing and your mouth water, then look no further than Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs recipe. This recipe is sure to satisfy even the most discerning carnivores out there.

The Neelys are known for their famous barbecue restaurant in Memphis, and this recipe is a testament to their skills as master grillers. The Kansas City-style ribs are typically characterized by their thick and sticky sauce, brushed on in the last 30 minutes of cooking. This style of ribs is the perfect balance between sweet and spicy, with just the right amount of smoky goodness.

I’ll be guiding you through the preparation of this succulent dish, detailing all the necessary steps along the way. By following my tips and tricks, you’ll be able to create a masterpiece that will have your friends and family begging for seconds. So fire up the grill, grab a cold drink, and let’s get started on making some mouth-watering Kansas City-style pork ribs!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Neely's Kansas City Style Pork Ribs
Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs

Are you a fan of pork ribs? Do you appreciate the perfect blend of sweet molasses and tangy apple cider vinegar? If so, you’re going to love Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs!

What sets this recipe apart is its mouth-watering combination of fresh ground black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, and molasses. The rub and sauce are made from scratch with only the freshest ingredients like tomato paste, water, and small onions. The result? A flavor explosion in your mouth!

This recipe is every bit as good as something you would order at a Kansas City barbeque. You’ll taste the delicious flavors that are typically characterized by thick and sticky sauce brushed over the ribs during the last 30 minutes of cooking. These ribs are perfect for family meals or even date nights.

Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or looking to impress guests at your next grill-out, these pork ribs are sure to be a hit! Don’t settle for mediocre barbecue when you can indulge in the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors in this dish. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you!

Ingredient List

 A juicy rack of Neely's Kansas City Style Pork Ribs fresh off the grill!
A juicy rack of Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs fresh off the grill!

Get your grocery list ready

Before firing up the grill, let’s make sure we have all the necessary ingredients. Here is what you need for Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs recipe:

  • 2 slabs (approximately 3 pounds) pork spare ribs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar

For the dry rub:

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter

With these ingredients, you’ll be able to make some fantastic pork ribs that are perfect for sharing with friends and family.

The Recipe How-To

 Get ready to impress your guests with these fall-off-the-bone ribs!
Get ready to impress your guests with these fall-off-the-bone ribs!

Preparing the Dry Rub

To make the dry rub, mix together 2 cups of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper, and 1 tablespoon of dry mustard in a bowl. Combine all ingredients until evenly distributed.

Apply the dry rub generously to both sides of the pork spare ribs, massaging it into the meat. Be sure to coat the ribs thoroughly and set them aside for at least half an hour or overnight in the refrigerator for best results.

Making the Barbeque Sauce

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups of ketchup, 1 cup of water, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, 5 tablespoons of molasses, and a small diced onion. Stir and blend all ingredients over medium heat. Add in ½ cup of brown sugar and continue stirring while making sure that everything is well-mixed. Once you reach medium-boil status, it’s time to add a dash of chili powder and cayenne pepper. This creates that spicy kick that we know and love.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for twenty minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally so that everything stays mixed up nicely. If you have tomato paste on hand, you may also want to add a tablespoon here to thicken it up slightly.

Set aside one cup or more if needed for later use on your ribs.

Cooking the Ribs

Preheat your grill to 275°F (135°C). Use your favorite smoking chip flavors like mesquite or hickory for additional smoky flavoring.

Place your prepared pork spare ribs onto the cooking grill bone side down. Cook for about an hour then remove them from the grill and brush on some barbecue sauce generously over one or both sides. Return back ribs back onto a spot in which they will not burn easily.

Now close your grill lid and let your ‘cue cook for another hour until tender yet firm to touch with tongs or wrapping pad. Brush with barbecue sauce every last thirty minutes for best taste results.

Once done with cooking process remove ribs from the grill and wrap in foil together with a few extra spoon fulls of that barbeque sauce from earlier made by Gina Neely kitchen fame couple Pat and Gina. Let those smoked babies rest in foil for at least twenty minutes before unwrapping and cutting into slices for serving purposes.

And voila! You now have your very own deliciously smoked pork spare ribs kansas city style recipe from home like they do down at (Kansas City Barbeque) joint!

Substitutions and Variations

 These ribs are worth getting a little sauce on your shirt for.
These ribs are worth getting a little sauce on your shirt for.

Are you looking to put your own spin on the classic Kansas City Style Pork Ribs Recipe? Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. Here are some ingredients you can substitute or add for a unique flavor experience.

– Dry Rub: The recipe calls for a dry rub with brown sugar, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. However, you can switch it up with different types of chili peppers or paprika for a smokier and spicier taste. Use a pre-made BBQ seasoning or make your own blend.

– BBQ Sauce: Gina Neely’s Kansas City Barbeque Sauce is the perfect complement to the pork ribs, but you can also try making your own sauce or experiment with other kinds of BBQ sauces. Add some fruit preserves like peach or raspberry to give it a sweet twist.

– Meat: While pork spare ribs are typically used for this recipe, you can also try using baby back ribs or beef short ribs for a different texture and flavor profile. Consider smoking the meat before grilling to enhance its smoky flavors.

– Sugar: If you want to cut back on sugar or prefer a healthier option, use a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup instead of brown sugar in the recipe.

Remember that cooking is all about experimentation and finding what works best for your taste buds. Don’t be afraid to add your own flair to this Kansas City Style Pork Ribs Recipe.

Serving and Pairing

Now that you’ve cooked up a perfectly smoky slab of Kansas City style pork ribs, it’s time to feast like a king. These fall-off-the-bone tender ribs are best served hot and fresh from the grill, still dripping with that thick, sticky sauce. If you’re serving a large group, consider carving the ribs into individual pieces for easy sharing.

Kansas City style ribs are a savory and satisfying meal on their own, but they’re even better when paired with complementary sides and drinks. Some classic side dish options include coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread, or mac and cheese. The creamy and tangy flavors of coleslaw bring balance to the richness of the ribs while the sweetness of baked beans echoes the molasses flavor in the sauce.

To complement the bold flavors of your pork ribs, reach for a glass of sweet tea, lemonade, or a refreshing beer like an IPA or lager. If you prefer wine, try pairing your ribs with a fruity red like Zinfandel or Petite Syrah–the tannins in these wines help cut through the richness of the meat.

No matter what you choose to serve alongside your Kansas City style pork ribs, be sure to take your time savoring every bite. When good food is on the table, there’s no need to rush.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

Now that you’ve enjoyed your delicious Kansas City Style Pork Ribs, it’s time to talk about what to do with any leftovers. If you end up with extras or even if you’ve made the ribs ahead of time, there are steps you can take to make sure they stay fresh and flavorful throughout the week.

First things first, let’s talk about how to store your ribs. Once the pork has cooled, wrap it tightly in foil or plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. For best results, try to eat the leftovers within three to four days, but remember that fully cooked ribs can safely be stored for up to a week.

If you’re short on time and want to reheat your pork ribs quickly, you can use a microwave set on high for 30 seconds per rib. However, we recommend heating them in the oven instead for better texture and flavor. Preheat your oven to 250°F , add a little bit of liquid (water, apple juice or barbecue sauce) to the container with your reheating ribs (to keep them from drying out) and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Place the covered container in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until heated through.

For longer-term storage beyond a week, consider freezing your leftover pork ribs. To do so correctly, wrap tightly in foil and then place into a freezer-safe zip-top bag or container before moving them into the freezer. They will keep well for up to three months stored this way.

When it comes time to reheat frozen pork ribs, first set them out at room temperature for around an hour before cooking. Preheat your oven again to 250°F . Then follow your normal reheating steps mentioned above. Just be aware that frozen meats will take slightly longer than usual to cook all of the way through.

By following these tips for storing and reheating Kansas City Style Pork Ribs, you’ll be able enjoy these amazing flavors again and again. Happy cooking!

Tips for Perfect Results

As someone who has tasted and prepared different pork ribs recipes, I can attest that a few tweaks can make a big difference in achieving exceptionally delicious pork ribs. Here are some tips to help you get perfect results for the Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs Recipe.

First, ensure you season the ribs thoroughly. Don’t shy away from using spices like fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt when preparing the dry rub for the pork ribs. These spices are essential in enhancing the flavor of the meat and adding that extra kick.

Second, marinate your ribs for at least an hour in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water before coating them with the dry rub. The marinade serves to break down the connective tissue in the meat and make it more tender while also adding some tangy flavor.

Third, give priority to temperature control when smoking or grilling your pork ribs. Consistent smoking or grilling temperatures allow for proper cooking of the meat without drying it out or overcooking it. You may also use damp wood chips for smoking as they will release steam that keeps moisture on the meat’s surface.

Fourth, apply a thick layer of barbecue sauce 30 minutes before your pork ribs finish cooking. Ensure you brush all sides of the slabs with sauce using a basting brush to seal in moisture and add some sweetness to your pork ribs.

Fifth, if you’re using spare ribs instead of baby back ribs, remove the membrane on its underside to avoid rubbery texture as it prevents fat and spices from penetrating through.

Lastly, carve your pork ribs diagonally for maximum tenderness and better presentation. Follow these tips, and you’ll undoubtedly achieve perfect results every time you make Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs Recipe.


As we head into the FAQ section, it’s important to address some of the top concerns that people may have when cooking ribs in the KC-style fashion. From understanding the right type of sauce to use to knowing how long to cook them, there are several issues that home cooks may face when trying out this recipe. To help you avoid any mistakes and ensure perfect results every time, we’ve put together a list of commonly asked questions and their respective answers. Without further ado, let’s dive into it!

What’s the difference between St Louis style ribs and Kansas City style ribs?

When it comes to BBQ ribs, there are two popular cuts: St. Louis Style and Kansas City Style. St. Louis Style Ribs are prepared by removing the sternum bone, cartilage, and rib tips, resulting in a rectangular shape. On the other hand, Kansas City Style Ribs receive a more thorough trimming process, making them slightly different than their St. Louis counterparts.

How do you cook pork ribs so they are not tough?

There’s nothing worse than biting into a delicious-looking rib and realizing it’s dry and tough. But fear not, because I have a solution that can turn those disappointing ribs into mouthwatering perfection. The key is to combine barbecue sauce and apple cider vinegar to create a wet, tangy mixture that will add moisture and flavor to the meat. Once the ribs are coated in this concoction, wrap them up tightly in foil and cook them low and slow in the oven (around 300°F) for about an hour. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to enjoying tender, juicy ribs in no time.

What is Kansas City ribs?

If you’re in the mood for some finger-licking good ribs, Kansas City Style Ribs are the way to go. These ribs are known for their thick, sticky sauce applied in the final 30 minutes of cooking, giving them that perfect combination of sweet and spicy flavors. The sweetness is derived from a brown sugar-based rub and sauce, which is balanced out by chili powder and pepper. So get ready to indulge in some truly delicious ribs!

What is the 3 2 1 method for pork ribs?

When it comes to making succulent 2 1 3 ribs, the key thing to remember is the three stages involved in cooking them to perfection. Initially, smoke the ribs directly on the pellet grill for three hours. Then, wrap them in foil and continue cooking for two hours on the same grill. Finally, spend the last hour of cook time slathering the ribs with tangy barbecue sauce while cooking them unwrapped.

Bottom Line

So there you have it – Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs Recipe. This recipe is the perfect way to bring a touch of Southern hospitality to your BBQ. With a flavorful dry rub and a rich barbecue sauce, these ribs are sure to satisfy even the most discerning of palates.

Whether you’re hosting a summer cookout, a fall tailgate party, or just looking for some hearty comfort food, this recipe is sure to hit the spot. So fire up your grill, dust off your tongs, and get ready to impress your guests with these mouth-watering pork spare ribs.

With a bit of patience and attention to detail, you can achieve restaurant-quality results right in your own backyard. So go ahead – give this recipe a try and taste the difference for yourself. And who knows? Maybe one day you’ll even give the Neelys themselves a run for their money!

Neely's Kansas City Style Pork Ribs

Neely’s Kansas City Style Pork Ribs Recipe

The Neeley’s have a cooking show on Food Network, and I love their recipes. If you love ribs like I do, you have got to TRY THESE!!! These ribs have some spice to them, so if you are making them for the kiddos or for those that don’t like spicy food, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper to your liking. PLEASE NOTE: The preparation time does not include the time it takes for the ribs to sit in the fridge with the rub on (1-24 hrs.) ALSO: It takes 3-4 hours, depending on whether you slow cook them on the grill or in the oven.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 large or 8 small
Calories 845.6 kcal


  • 2 slabs pork spareribs, 3 pounds each
  • kansas city barbecue sauce, recipe follows

Dry Rub

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

Kansas City Barbeque Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 about 2/3 cup small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup tomato paste (2 6-ounce cans)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


  • Dry Rub:
  • Remove the thin white membrane off of the bone-side of the ribs. Mix together the brown sugar, dry mustard, cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Massage the rub into the ribs and let sit for 1 hour or up to overnight.
  • If cooking on the grill, place the ribs meat-side down next to medium-hot coals that are about 225 degrees F. The indirect heat will cook them slower, making them tender. Allow to cook for 1 hour. Turn ribs every half hour and baste with the Kansas City Barbeque Sauce. Cook until the ribs are tender, about 3 to 4 hours.
  • If cooking indoors, place in a roasting pan with a rack. Slather the ribs with the Kansas City Barbeque Sauce and tent a piece of aluminum foil over them. In a preheated 350 degrees F. oven, place the ribs, basting with the sauce every 30 minutes and removing the foil for the last 30 minutes and cooking until fork tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  • Kansas City Barbeque Sauce:
  • In a small sauce pot on medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the onion, cooking until translucent.
  • Add the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Add to sauce pan and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Use to baste the pork spare ribs.
  • Makes 3 cups sauce.



Serving: 4609gCalories: 845.6kcalCarbohydrates: 178.8gProtein: 9.8gFat: 14.2gSaturated Fat: 1.4gSodium: 2915.1mgFiber: 8.5gSugar: 156.3g
Keyword Camping, Meat, Pork
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Shara @The Bird BBQ

Shara loves to experiment with different flavors and techniques when it comes to BBQ. She has been perfecting her craft for years and loves hosting backyard BBQs with friends & family. She often comes up with creative recipes that her guests rave about.