Hoisin BBQ Ribs

My mother became intrigued with international cuisines after her move to the USA from France in 1954. It might have really begun when she purchased the set of cookbooks from Time-Life, called Foods of the World, that began publishing in 1968. After that, she set herself on a mission of culinary discovery.

I so wish there had been the concept of food photography in my youth, and digital photography would have been a plus, because I’d love to share photos of my mother’s creations. I remember a Russian salmon en croute, called coulibiac, that my mother turned into a fish, precisely carving the fins and scales out of pastry. It didn’t hurt that she was an artist and sculptor.

My mother also became a huge fan of Indian and Ethiopian cuisines. We probably had the best smelling house when those dishes were on the menu. Then, there was her Chinese phase, with my favorite meal being hot pot!

To learn about global cuisines, my mother followed lots of recipes, which I think is the best way to learn cooking techniques. But it also teaches about ingredients and seasonings, and what go well together.

That’s exactly how this sauce came about.

It’s simple, and probably not a unique combination for many home cooks, but for me, this sauce was over-the-top-good and I loved it. My mother’s “recipe” is based on hoisin sauce, using ketchup as a “carrier oil,” plus fresh ginger and garlic. Simple but sublime.

Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup hoisin sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
6 pounds baby-back ribs, at room temperature

Combine The first six ingredients and stir until well combined.

Set your slow cooker to HIGH, and spray the inside with Pam.

Cut the rib slabs into halves, then slather them with 3/4 of the sauce; refrigerate the remaining sauce for use after the ribs are cooked.

Place the ribs in the slow cooker for one hour, then reduce the heat to LOW and cook for 5 more hours.

Turn on the broiler and get the sauce out of the refrigerator. Get the ribs out of the slow cooker and lay them in one layer on a rack placed in a roasting pan, meaty side up.

Brush the remaining sauce on the ribs. Broil the ribs for a few minutes until there’s some serious caramelization.

Serve immediately; they’re also good at room temperature.

Cut the ribs into smaller pieces, if desired, although the meat is very delicate.

I served these ribs with plain white rice. Besides tasting the hoisin component, the ginger and garlic really stand out.

The sauce is equally good with chicken, pork, and even salmon.

The rib meat is so tender. Truly this technique is one of the best ways to prepare ribs inside, whether you’re using a marinade or a rub.

As a note, the hoisin in this marinade/sauce can be substituted with Gochujang to create a Korean-inspired version. It’s equally good!

By Published On: May 20th, 201938 Comments on Hoisin BBQ Ribs

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Ron May 20, 2019 at 6:27 AM - Reply

    Mimi, this is a lovely combination of flavors for a BBQ sauce. A must try for sure.
    I think I had coulibiac while traveling in Russia. It was like a giant pierogi filled with salmon and such. Now, I must make that dish, but without the artistry that your mother showed.

    • chef mimi May 20, 2019 at 7:10 AM - Reply

      I’m sure you did, I think it’s a pretty traditional dish if I remember right. I think I was in college when she made the coulibiac. I hope I complimented her artistry. Now I’m not sure she’ll remember having made it.

  2. chef mimi May 20, 2019 at 8:55 AM - Reply

    Thank you Mandy!

  3. Jess May 20, 2019 at 11:28 AM - Reply

    Looks delicious!

  4. Laura May 20, 2019 at 12:39 PM - Reply

    Mimi, this sauce sounds amazing – I love that nice chunk of ginger grated into it, makes my mouth water just thinking about it! Going to give this a try! Thanks!

  5. cookingontheweekends May 21, 2019 at 12:45 AM - Reply

    This sauce is one I’d love to always have at the ready. How delicious all of those flavors are together! Your mom must have made amazing culinary creations.

    • chef mimi May 21, 2019 at 6:20 AM - Reply

      She was pretty amazing. A while back I saw ketchup used in a few marinades (in a cookbook) and so I’ve actually started using it more. It’s a good, fairly neutral base.

  6. Tandy | Lavender and Lime May 21, 2019 at 2:05 AM - Reply

    Those look amazing. I love ribs and this marinade sounds perfect for them :)

    • chef mimi May 21, 2019 at 6:19 AM - Reply

      Thank you. Asian flavors are fabulous.

  7. sippitysup May 21, 2019 at 1:03 PM - Reply

    Of course I love the sauce, but my big takeaway from this post is that our mothers would have been fast friends. GREG

    • chef mimi May 23, 2019 at 9:23 AM - Reply

      I am trying really hard not to say anything terrible. But my mother never really had friends. So, probably not. A shame.

  8. Eva Taylor May 22, 2019 at 6:18 AM - Reply

    My dear Mom traded supper dishes with neighbours of similar sized families; this is the way we enjoyed cuisines of the world! I have a much more adventurous experience in the kitchen, but then Food Network and the internet was and is instrumental in teaching techniques. This recipe looks wonderful, sticky and sweet! Perfect for BBQ season.
    Sorry I haven’t been around much, been having some health issues that I’m still working through.

    • chef mimi May 22, 2019 at 12:59 PM - Reply

      Oh, I’m sorry. Get well soon!

  9. kitchenriffs May 22, 2019 at 10:15 AM - Reply

    Neat sauce! And I like the concept of ketchup as a “carrier oil.” We don’t use very much of the stuff — maybe a small bottle every year — but when we do, it’s as an ingredient in another dish as often as not. Sounds like your mom was an exceptional cook — your house must have been THE place to eat in town. :-)

    • chef mimi May 22, 2019 at 12:59 PM - Reply

      As I mentioned in another comment, I used ketchup according to a recipe from a barbecue cookbook, and it worked so well that I’ve been using it occasionally. It works really well.

  10. chef mimi May 22, 2019 at 12:58 PM - Reply

    Oh gosh, I don’t think I have any photos. Need to rectify that soon. Thank you.

  11. Jeff the Chef May 22, 2019 at 10:15 PM - Reply

    Those ribs look to die for!

    • chef mimi May 23, 2019 at 7:41 AM - Reply

      Very close!

  12. kathryninthekitchen May 23, 2019 at 3:59 AM - Reply

    Mimi I love hearing about your mum….she is a legend and an inspiration to me!
    Ethiopian food….I haven’t experienced it yet and would love for you to share a recipe or two! Also, my son bought me a slow cooker for Christmas but I haven’t got many recipes – so thanks for this one….

    • chef mimi May 23, 2019 at 7:41 AM - Reply

      Thank you Kathryn. Ethiopian food is so multi layered and fabulous. I did post on some dishes, but it was early on in my blog and I need to re-do the photos. I don’t use slow cookers much. I really don’t see the purpose. Even when I had kids at home I didn’t use it. Maybe because of the idea of the “crock pot” offended me. But I’ve made ribs twice using this technique and it’s truly magical.

  13. chef mimi May 23, 2019 at 9:22 AM - Reply

    I usually do them in the oven! With a little broiling at the end. This works so well, but obviously there are many choices regarding ribs and getting them tender. But I do love the marinade/sauce flavor!

  14. Healthy World Cuisine May 24, 2019 at 10:42 AM - Reply

    These ribs are melt in your mouth tender and delicious. Mom’s recipes are always the best. What time is dinner?

    • chef mimi May 24, 2019 at 12:22 PM - Reply

      You’re sweet! She was such a great cook. And for most of it I didn’t appreciate her skills, or what I was eating! Pretty typical for kids, though.

  15. neil@neilshealthymeals.com May 25, 2019 at 12:46 PM - Reply

    Oh my, I wish that I would have been able to smell your mothers house when she was cooking Ethiopian cuisines. I was very lucky when I was on holiday in Frankfurt once and there just so happened to be an Ethiopian restaurant across the road from the hotel we were staying at. The flatbreads served there and the spiced vegetable dishes were amazing! I digress….. Now can I come to your house and smell what it was like when you were cooking these ribs with your hoisin bbq sauce? The ribs looks so tender!

    • chef mimi May 25, 2019 at 4:13 PM - Reply

      Thank you! I wish I could have appreciated more what my mother did in the kitchen, but we were young, and I certainly didn’t love food like I do now! We’re probably all guilty of that. I was in college before I liked lettuce and tomatoes! This way of cooking ribs is pretty amazing, and I don’t really love using a slow cooker! Ethiopian food is really incredible. Such great flavors.

  16. FrugalHausfrau May 27, 2019 at 12:51 AM - Reply

    This looks and sounds fabulous and is going on my must make! Maybe I’ll make it while I’m down here at my daughter’s house in Georgia! I used to be kind of snobby about ketchup, but have a few things I like to use it as a base for, too.

    • chef mimi May 27, 2019 at 6:55 AM - Reply

      I know what you mean. But it really does work!

  17. Susan@savoringtimeinthekitchen May 27, 2019 at 5:56 PM - Reply

    This post is making my mouth water! I love those tender ribs and the sauce sounds like something I would love! Thank you!

    • chef mimi May 27, 2019 at 6:33 PM - Reply

      Thank you! The sauce is wonderful, and so is this cooking technique!

  18. chef mimi May 29, 2019 at 6:30 AM - Reply

    Thanks. My husband only has a bbq grill, so I’ve never used your technique. I’m sure this is where a gas grill comes in handy. The sauce is really nice. You taste the hoisin, garlic and ginger.

  19. Linger May 29, 2019 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    Mimi, you’ve always got the BEST recipes on your site. This BBQ sauce looks amazing. And BTW, these photos are gorgeous and they are making me so hungry right now. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • chef mimi May 29, 2019 at 5:49 PM - Reply

      Aww, thanks so much! I really appreciate that.

  20. chef mimi May 31, 2019 at 7:50 AM - Reply

    I’ve never had it on salmon, but I imagine it will be wonderful!

  21. Kelly | Foodtasia June 2, 2019 at 10:01 AM - Reply

    Mimi, it’s so cool that your mother cooked so many wonderful things. You are truly blessed in that. Everything we had was from cans or boxes or frozen dinners. I so admire that your mom cooked for you. This barbeque sauce looks fantastic! I love a sweet, sticky sauce!

    • chef mimi June 2, 2019 at 11:39 AM - Reply

      Of course my sister and I didn’t appreciate it. I especially hated Thanksgiving because my mother refused to cook a turkey!

  22. David June 5, 2019 at 7:03 PM - Reply

    Okay, making homemade hoisin sauce is going to be my summer project. I really love the stuff, but haven’t been able to eat it for more than 30 years! It’s got to be easy enough to do… Don’t you think?

    • chef mimi June 5, 2019 at 10:02 PM - Reply

      Sure! Just minus the garlic, right? Good luck. I’ve honestly never looked into a recipe for it.

  23. chef mimi June 9, 2019 at 1:02 PM - Reply

    Well, I have no idea either. So many odd occasional glitches with wordpress.

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