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Spare Ribs with Low Carb BBQ Sauce

Spare Ribs with Low Carb BBQ Sauce
Home » Low Carb Lifestyle » Low carb dinner ideas » Spare Ribs with Low Carb BBQ Sauce

While spare ribs themselves are low carb proteins, they are often slathered with a high carb BBQ sauce. One way to avoid the sugary BBQ sauces found in the grocery stores is to make your own. Options could include fruit-based BBQ sauces, or a really low carb vinegar-based sauce. This recipe is for low carb spareribs with a spice rub, as well as a low carb, low sugar, tomato-based BBQ sauce.

Spare ribs with low carb bbq sauce
Spare ribs with low carb BBQ sauce

Jump to: RECIPE | Ingredients | Tips for Adding Flavor | Berries in BBQ sauce

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Are any Store-Bought BBQ Sauces Low Carb?

Read the labels of the pre-made BBQ sauces in the store. Most of them are loaded with sugar, whether that sugar is in the form of molasses, honey, demerara, or other forms of sugar.  

So does that mean low carbers have to give up the beloved BBQ sauce?  Absolutely not, but you might have to make your own.

Spare ribs and coleslaw with a side of low carb bbq sauce
Spare ribs and coleslaw with a side of low carb bbq sauce

Here is a visual of the ingredients for spare ribs with a homemade low carb BBQ sauce. Detailed measurements can be found in the recipe below.

Ingredients for spare ribs with low carb BBQ sauce
Ingredients for spare ribs with low carb BBQ sauce

Tips for Adding Flavor to Homemade BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce in general is pretty simple to make on your own.  Basically you toss all the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer, stirring only occasionally.  

For a simple no-cook alternative, toss all the ingredients in a food processor, pour it over the ribs or whatever protein you’re making and let it cook in the oven with the ribs.

The main problem with making your own sauce is that most recipes call for ketchup as the base, and ketchup is full of sugar. To make matters worse many brands go on to add more sugar to the ketchup base.

It’s easy however, to get creative with ingredients when you make your own BBQ sauce. The beauty of a BBQ sauce is that it is difficult to ruin it.

To cut the sugar use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce or tomato paste and start adding vinegar and spices.  

If you want a smoky sauce add some liquid smoke.  

Spice?  I like chipotles with their added smokiness, but use cayenne or red pepper flakes for a brighter spice.

If you want a grocery store variety, I did find one brand in our local grocery with only 2 carbs per 2 Tbsp serving.  It is called Classic 2 Carb BBQ Sauce by Ken Davis.  It is “OK” in a pinch, but it’s not nearly as robust and tasty as your own sauce can be.

Adding Berries to Low Carb BBQ Sauces:

Since we grow blueberries at HeathGlen Farm, I have made and sold a blueberry BBQ sauce that was very popular in past years.  This year I bought 240 pounds of cranberries from a Wisconsin cranberry farmer that I know from the St. Paul Farmers’ market and used some of them in a cranberry BBQ sauce (pictured on the ribs below).  

Berries are one of the lower carb fruits that is often allowed on low carb diets, and they can add tremendous flavor to your sauce.

For another low carb recipe using short ribs, check out: Low Carb Mexican Braised Short Ribs

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Oven-Baked Spare Ribs with Low Carb BBQ Sauce

Spare ribs with low carb bbq sauce
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings 4
Calories 473



  • 2-3 lbs pork ribs spare ribs or country style
  • ¼ – ½ cup spice rub I like harissa or jerk rubs, but pick your favorite
  • 16 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar optional, can use Truvia brown sugar substitute
  • optional spices cinnamon, celery seed


  • Heat oven to 325 degrees
  • Wash ribs and pat dry. Line a large baking dish or roasting pan with foil for easy clean up. Arrange the ribs in the baking dish and use your hands to coat the ribs with the rub.
    2-3 lbs pork ribs, 1/4 – 1/2 cup spice rub
  • Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on thickness of ribs and your oven temperature range.
  • While the ribs are baking, make the BBQ sauce by adding all remaining ingredients to a food processor and pulsed until ingredients are finely minced.
    16 oz can diced tomatoes, 1 medium onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 Tbsp mustard, 3/8 cup apple cider vinegar, 2-3 Tbsp paprika, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp liquid smoke, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, optional spices
  • After ribs have cooked 1 1/2 – 2 hours, remove foil and spoon sauce over the baked ribs. Return to the oven, uncovered, and cook for about 15-20 minutes longer


** nutritional analysis is for ribs only. A separate one is needed for the sauce.


Calories: 473kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 26gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 1.306mgPotassium: 529mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1.842IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 89mgIron: 4mg
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  1. Dorothy Stainbrook says:

    5 stars

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