Cranberry Barbecue RibsCranberry Barbecue Ribs

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Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

Just because it’s Christmas in July week over here doesn’t mean Man Food Friday isn’t happening. This week the husband whipped up some Cranberry Barbecue Ribs.

O.M.G. these ribs. So stinkin good. Cranberry sauce doesn’t sound like it would be an awesome ingredient in barbecue sauce, but holy cow! It is! The sweet and tart cranberry sauce (yes, the stuff that everyone buys at the holidays) makes the perfect background for the sauce. The sauce was the right combo of sweet and spicy in a finger licking sticky glaze. I’m obsessed.

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Husband did good. Despite toddler couch climbing and hyped up hero work.

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

No summer is complete without at least one barbecue that contains spare ribs. And no Christmas in July  is complete without a take on a classic (and fancy) main dish. Just in time for barbecuing this weekend, I present to you a fusion of Christmas inspiration and a summer must-have with our Cranberry Barbecue Ribs. The perfect dish to balance out all the sweet treats and frozen drinks happening here this week.

If your not quite getting the connection, let me explain. It’s simple really:

standing rib roast + cranberry sauce = cranberry barbecue sauce + spare ribs

Like I said, simple… and delicious.

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

And the simplest part? The cranberry barbecue sauce and ribs take about 10 – 20 minutes of prep time. Cook time will vary, but can be less than an hour.

I was able to cook the barbecue sauce and prep the ribs with a cranky, possibly suicidal toddler under foot (or worse, out of sight).

Let me set a scene here. It was around 5:30pm, our daughter had just awoken from a short nap. Jenna was not available. Deadline to get this recipe ready to go was approaching. I laid our daughter by my feet. And the timer officially started.

She sat up – I grabbed the pepper and can of peppers.

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

She awkwardly got to her feet – I had the jalapeno washed and on the board.

A something distracted her – I rough diced the jalapeno and dug out the chipolte pepper.

Distraction gone, she toddler sprinted towards the living room – I pressed garlic into a pot.

Couch reached – peppers dumped in. She started to scale the front of the couch – I rinsed my hands, measured out my oil, and set the burner to medium.

She reached the cushions and stood – I slow-mo ran yelling “NOOOOOO”, heroically (Jenna is rolling her eyes so hard right now. And apparently typing about herself in 3rd person) diving to save her from a certainly deadly fall.

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

Cranberry Barbecue Ribs

Jenna will tell you, she thinks I made that last part up. Jenna’s note: total baloney. I was in the office doing some writing while all of this mayhem ensued. There were so many bangs. SO MANY. I had to plug headphones into the computer and turn on music so I couldn’t hear the disaster outside my door and worry about what on earth was going on. Back to Nate now. But I stick to my story. My point is to show how easy it is to make this recipe. I finished my prep on the barbecue sauce AND ribs, while holding a now fussing toddler.

I ended up slow cooking the ribs over smokey charcoal four about 1 1/2 hours. Of course, you can cook them faster in the oven or a hotter grill. But if you have the time, slow cooking is the way to go.


Yields Serves 2 -3 people

Cranberry Barbecue Spare Ribs

20 minPrep Time

3 hr, 30 Cook Time

3 hr, 50 Total Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


    For the Sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or other oil
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper (diced)
  • 4 cloves crushed or minced garlic
  • 1 chipolte pepper (diced)
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or regular vinegar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For Ribs
  • 2.5 - 3 lbs spare ribs
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar


    For the Sauce
  1. Dice peppers and crush/dice garlic
  2. Add oil and diced peppers and garlic to a medium pot.
  3. Set burner to medium heat.
  4. Simmer for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
  6. Bring to simmer for about 2 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat and cook on low, stirring occasionally, for twenty minutes.*
  8. For Ribs
  9. In a small mixing bowl, mix spices, oil, and sugar together.
  10. Rub the spice mixture into the ribs.
  11. Optional: Let marinade for 1 - 24 hours.*
  12. Grill Method:
  13. Get a low charcoal fire going or attach a smoker to the grill. Cook low and slow over the indirect heat for 4.5-5.5 hours. Brush with sauce and let smoke for an 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
  14. Oven Method:
  15. Set oven to 300.
  16. Cook uncovered for about 1 hour, then cover and cook for an additional 1-1.5 hours.


*You can cook the sauce for longer on low heat, the longer it cooks, the more the flavors infuse. Same is true for ribs - the longer they cook over low heat, often the better the flavor. ** For safety, you should use a meat thermometer to make sure they are cooked all the way through.



79 cal


6 g


2 g


3 g
Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info



    • jfletcher
      It's amazing. The cranberry just gives it this background tart, sweetness.
  1. kali
    these sound delicious and your pictures are so cute! Xx Kali @love_laugh_explore
  2. Stacy
    I think the combo of cranberry and chipolte sounds amazing! Definitely trying these this summer!
    • jfletcher
      Honestly, it doesn't even really taste of cranberry. The cranberries just add a little tart sweetness in the background.

So, what do you think ?