June 27, 2024

Sweet Tangy Lemon Ribs

Recipe: Chris Nuttal-Smith

“The lemon cuts through the natural fat of the pork and the sweetness of the barbecue sauce, giving you this bright, citrusy flavour.” – Chris Nuttal-Smith


At Home

  • 6 lemons, washed
  • 5 lbs. spareribs (a.k.a. “side ribs”) or St. Louis–style ribs
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 10 oz. bottled barbecue sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water

At Camp

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Prepared ribs (thawed)
  • 10 oz. bottled barbecue sauce
  • 2 lemons
  • Kosher salt


Yield: Serves 4 to 6

At Home: Prepare Ribs and Braise

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut each lemon into 1/4″ slices. Distribute two-thirds of lemon slices evenly on bottom of large roasting pan.
  2. Season ribs with salt, then coat them with barbecue sauce. Snug ribs in single layer over lemon slices. (Some minor overlapping isn’t the end of the world.) Top with remaining lemon slices and season well with pepper.
  3. Add hot water to pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake ribs until meat is tender and beginning to pull away from bones, about 2 hours. Remove from oven.
  4. Let ribs cool, drain and discard lemon slices. Pack in large resealable bag and freeze. Ribs will keep for 1 month, frozen. After thawing, ribs will keep for 3 days, kept cold.

At Camp: Make Fire

  1. Prepare medium-hot fire for grilling with direct and indirect cooking zones. Set grill 6″ to 8″ above coals, then clean grate and brush or wipe well with vegetable oil.

At Camp: Grill Ribs

  1. Lay ribs over direct heat and brush tops generously with sauce. Turn ribs every few minutes to heat and brown, about 10 minutes total. Brush each side generously with sauce when it faces up.
  2. When ribs are nearly ready, halve lemons and place over direct heat, cut-side down, to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Cut meat into individual ribs and season with salt. Serve ribs with grilled lemons, collards and corn.

Maya Visnyei


Recipes from Cook It Wild by Chris Nuttall-Smith. ©2023 Chris Nuttall-Smith. Photography by Maya Visnyei and illustrations by Claire McCracken. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved