Spiced Cocoa Rub Ribs

February 7, 2018

I LOVE ribs… and I think they love me back!

With Valentine’s Day one week away I’m starting to think about dinner plans. I’ve never been a fan of dinner out on Valentine’s Day thanks to overcrowded restaurants and overpriced menus. I much prefer the idea of making something extra special at home – something a little out of the ordinary! These ribs might fit the bill perfectly. Infused with a little cocoa powder in the rub, they are slow roasted in the oven and finished off on the grill or under the broiler. I’m curious…do you stay in and cook or always go out on Valentine’s Day? Swipe for the recipe! #kelseysinstarecipes #valentinesday

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Spiced Cocoa Rub Ribs

  • Author: Kelsey Nixon
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x




  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 racks (4 to 5 pounds each) pork spareribs

Tangy BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated


  1. For the ribs: Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil, enough to fold over the ribs, approximately twice the size of the baking sheet.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, and spices. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the rub and set aside.
  4. Place the ribs on the prepared baking sheet. Generously sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the spice mixture. Really rub it in! Place the ribs meat-side down and fold the foil tightly around the ribs to make a sealed packet. Bake the ribs until they become pliable but not falling apart, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. You know the ribs are done when the meat pulls away from the bone. Once the ribs are tender, carefully pour off 1/2 cup of the accumulated juices into a bowl and reserve. Keep the ribs wrapped in the foil to keep warm.
  5. For the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the tomato puree, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, reserved rub and the garlic. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking juices and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  6. Turn oven to broil; slather them with sauce and stick them under the broiler to char. Serve the ribs with extra BBQ sauce on the side.

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