These low and slow-cooked Hawaiian-style smoked ribs are utterly delicious! The teriyaki and pineapple BBQ sauce adds a nice sweet, umami finish. We love this sauce so much, we recommend making a little extra to serve on the side. These ribs are perfect for weekend cookouts and parties, so buckle up and let’s get started making these fantastic Hawaiian smoked spare ribs!
3-2-1 and 2-2-1 Method, and When To Use Them
For smoked spare ribs, we recommend using the 3-2-1 method. If you’re new to grilling and smoking meats, this means that the ribs are seasoned and cooked at a low temperature for 3 hours. Then they are wrapped in aluminum foil with a little fruit juice and brown sugar for 3 hours. Finally, the ribs are unwrapped, placed back on the grill, and sauced every 15 minutes until for an hour. The results are fork tender and simply fantastic.
If you are cooking baby back ribs, you will need to follow the 2-2-1 method. That means cooking the ribs for 2 hours, wrapping them for 2, unwrapping them, and saucing them for 1 hour. Spare ribs are roughly 1 1/2 times more meat than baby backs, and this recipe is designed for spare ribs. We recommend using 2 racks of baby back ribs and increasing the recipe by another half. Example: 1/3 of a cup of pineapple juice + 1/6 cup = 1/2 cup. Teriyaki sauce is 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons = 6 tablespoons, and so on.
Temperature and Wood Suggestions
For this these Hawaiian style ribs, we want to go low and slow. That means maintaining a low overall cooking temperature. We’ve found that 275 degrees work best for ribs, though some Pitmasters stick by 250 degrees or 285 degrees. It’s all a matter of preference and works best for the equipment you’re using. We made these using a pellet grill, so if you have a Traeger (or something similar), aim for a cooking temperature of 275 degrees. Refer to our in-depth recipe how-to guides if using charcoal or a gas unit.
- Doneness Temperature: Ribs are best when pulled at an internal temperature of 185-195 degrees F. The meat will be tender and have a slightly sweet flavor. Have an instant-read thermometer nearby, you will need it!
- Wood: We recommend using apple or peach wood for this recipe.
Ingredients for Hawaiian-Style Ribs
- 1 rack pork spare ribs or 2 racks of baby backs
- Pineapple juice
- Prepared teriyaki sauce: Use your favorite bottled teriyaki sauce. Or, make your own with a good quality soy sauce.
- Brown sugar: You can use either light or dark, though dark does provide a deeper molasses flavor.
- Ginger powder
- Hawaiian Pork Rib Rub: Use 1 tablespoon of rub per pound of meat)
- Green onions
- Apple juice or apple cider vinegar for wrapping
- Aluminum foil
How to Make Hawaiian-Style Ribs
- Phase 1: Preheat your grill to 275 degrees F.
- Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs by making a small cut at the edge.
- Grab the edge and pull the membrane away from the bone using a paper towel.
- Pat the rack of ribs dry with a paper towel. Apply a thin olive oil or mustard coating, and season with Hawaiian Pork Rib Rub. Let the rub sit on the ribs for at least 20-30 minutes.
- Stage 1: Place ribs, bone side down on the grill or smoker, close the lid, and cook for 3 hours. For baby back ribs, cook for 2 hours instead of 3 hours.
Making the Sauce
- Simmer pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger powder for 1 minute over medium-high heat in a small saucepan.
- Reduce heat to low, and continue simmering the sauce for an additional 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat, cover, and keep warm until ready to use. You might need to rewarm it before applying it to the Hawaiian-style ribs.
- Phase 2: After 3 hours (2 hours for baby backs), it’s time to wrap the ribs. This step helps the meat to retain moisture.
- Remove the ribs and place them onto a large sheet of aluminum foil (about 2 times the size of the ribs).
- Carefully pour 1/3 cup of apple juice around the perimeter of the meat. Sprinkle 1 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar on the ribs. Fold the ends of the foil over, and seal the ribs, leaving a little space for steam to build.
- Place the ribs back on the grill, and cook for another 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, carefully unwrap the ribs and place them back on the grill bone side down. Brush Hawaiian-style ribs with BBQ sauce every 15 minutes until they are done (about an hour).
- Once ribs have reached an internal temperature of 185-195 degrees, remove them from heat and loosely tent them with aluminum foil.
- Let them stand for 15-20 minutes. Slice between the bones into individual ribs. Place them on the serving dish, garnish with thinly sliced green onions (scallions), and toasted sesame seeds (optional).
Storing Leftover Hawaiian Style Ribs
Store leftover ribs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 300-degree oven until warmed through. You can also shred or chop the meat off the bones and use it in pasta dishes, rice bowls, or salads!
Like these Hawaiian Style Ribs? Try these recipes!
Hawaiian Style Ribs
- 1 rack pork spare ribs (or St. Louis cut ribs) (or baby back ribs)
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice plus extra for wrapping
- 1/4 cup prepared teriyaki sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed plus extra for wrapping
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 3-4 tablespoons Hawaiian Pork Rib Rub 1 tablespoon per pound of meat
- 2 medium green onion, finely chopped optional garnish
- Remove membrane from back of the ribs by making a small cut at the edge. Using a paper towel, grab the edge and pull membrane away from the bone. With any luck it will come off clean. If not, repeat process until membrane comes off.Pat ribs dry with paper towels. Apply a thin coating of olive oil or mustard, and season with Hawaiian Pork Rib Rub. Let the rub sit on the rib at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat grill for 275 degrees F. Place ribs, bone side down, on the grill, close the lid and cook for 3 hours.*see notes section for baby back ribs instructions.
- To make sauce: Simmer pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger powder for 1 minute over medium-high heat in a small saucepan.Reduce heat to low, and continue simmering the sauce for an additional 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.Remove from the heat, cover, and keep warm until ready to use. Rewarm if needed.
- After 3 hours, it's time to wrap the ribs. Remove ribs and place them onto a large sheet of aluminum foil (about 2 times the size of the ribs). Carefully pour 1/3 cup of apple juice around the perimeter of the meat. Sprinkle 1 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar on the ribs. Fold the ends of the foil over, and seal the ribs, leaving a little space for steam to build.Place the ribs back on the grill, and cook for another 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, carefully unwrap the ribs and place them back on the grill bone side down. Brush with BBQ sauce every 15 minutes until they are done (about an hour).
- Once ribs have reached an internal temperature of 185-195 degrees, remove them from heat and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Let them stand for 15-20 minutes. Slice ribs between the bones, place on serving dish, and garnish with chopped green onions.
- Store leftover ribs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.