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byKelly Bejelly

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The best dry rub for ribs that gives your ribs a smoky flavor without the grill. The added bonus is that you can make these ribs in your oven!

best dry rub for ribs sugar free

We don’t have a grill.   No joke, seriously, every grill we have ever owned has turned into a rust pit after winter so when it comes to whipping up a rack of dry rub pork spare ribs, I have to turn to the oven.

I have two dietary issues to deal with also.  Mr. Bejelly does not do well with cooked tomato products and he will have a bought of heartburn if he eats them. 

We also are really trying to phase out all sugar in our diet as this  helps reduce and often eliminate any bouts of heartburn.  

I have yet to find a barbecue sauce that is tomato free and sugar-free so I invented the following dry rub for ribs.

best dry rub for ribs sugar free

I did swab it down in my Peach BBQ Sauce  so be sure to check it out.

What you’ll need for this Recipe:

How to Make This best dry rub for ribs Recipe:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix with a spoon until well blended.

Lightly apply this rub to both sides of your rack until it is well coated. There will be some rub left over which I typically don’t apply to the ribs. You can if you would like but it is a strong flavor.

Next take two sheets of aluminum foil and sandwich the ribs Place them in your oven to bake for 3 – 3.25 hours.

The meat should be falling off the bone by the time they are done. 

If you like this Dry Rub For Ribs recipe, you’ll love:

Cowboy Burgers

Copycat Gluten-free Instant Pot Hormel Chili

Hamburger Steak with Brown Gravy

Did you make and love this recipe?  Give your review below.

Dry Rub Pork Spare Ribs

Dry Rub Pork Spare Ribs

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

The best dry rub for ribs that is sugar-free and can be made in your oven.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix with a spoon until well blended.
  3. Lightly apply this rub to both sides of your rack until it is well coated. There will be some rub left over which I typically don't apply to the ribs. You can if you would like but it is a strong flavor.
  4. Next take two sheets of aluminum foil and sandwich the ribs Place them in your oven to bake for 3 – 3.25 hours.
  5. The meat should be falling off the bone by the time they are done. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 42 Total Fat: 3g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 9mg Sodium: 806mg Carbohydrates: 2g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 0g Protein: 2g

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  • June 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Okay, I have to try this! I actually love to slow roast ribs in the oven. Yummy!5 stars

  • June 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I LOVE ribs, but I have mastered home to cook them yet.5 stars

  • June 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    These sound amazing and like something I can manage as well. I love the use of cacao!5 stars

  • Don in Arkansas
    June 28, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Looks great but I wouldn’t mess it up at the end by putting sauce on it. I’m more of a meat, dry rub, heat/smoke, done kind of rib guy. I usually sear mine on the grill & then smoke for an hour or so and then finish in the oven for a couple of more hours but when its as hot as it is here right now (100+) I probably won’t use the oven at all. The cocoa sounds like a nice touch. A couple of tbs of instant coffee works too.

    • Author
      June 28, 2012 at 9:26 am

      I wish we had a smoker because it would get used daily in our household 🙂 Thanks for the tip about the coffee!

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:40 am

    This looks like a really unique rub! Yum!

  • Wenchypoo
    June 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Here I come to save your day…sort of: NoMato products http://www.nomato.com/

    They have a ketchup, a “tomato” sauce, and a BBQ sauce with no tomato in them. I too am allergic to tomatoes, and this is what I use myself.

    • Author
      June 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Interesting. I’m going to have to check this out 🙂

  • June 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Oh.my.goodness. Those look amazing. I love ribs so I will have to try that sometime.

  • July 1, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Ribs are so good in summer!

  • Shary
    July 1, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I’ve been making my own version of this recipe for years. However, I use a black enamel roasting pan (the kind that comes with most ovens). I line the pan with heavy-duty foil for easy cleanup, then flop in a rack of ribs and season as desired. You can also add onions, quartered turnips, carrots, asparagus, parsnips, etc. for a complete meal. Add about 3/4’s cup of water to the pan and cover tightly with another sheet of foil. Bake at 325 degrees for about 3-1/2 hours, or until meat is fork tender and falling off the bones. Uncover and bake at 375 degrees for another 15 minutes to brown the meat.

    We think ribs fixed this way are much better than grilled. Another advantage: If you have to be gone for a while, this dish can be prepared a few hours in advance with the oven set on Delayed Start.5 stars

    • Author
      July 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks Shary! I didn’t think to throw veggies in the mix. The foil makes for the easiest cleanup too.

  • Cap'n Salty
    July 1, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I tried these for the family Sunday dinner. There were ‘yumm’ noises around the room and very little conversation during the meal. We will be making them again, thank you so much for this different-from-our-usual take on ribs. PS..I live with a bunch that would have been disappointed if I hadn’t done this, so, with all due respect to your recipe we did add an ingredient: smoked paprika, about 1 teaspoon.5 stars

    • Author
      July 2, 2012 at 8:05 am

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed them and smoke paprika sounds like an awesome addition 🙂

  • George Mendez
    July 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Sorry, but this recipe has too much cacao for me and my wife; it overpowered all the other flavors. I’ll try a variation with 1 tsp. of unsweetened cocoa powder next time.2 stars

    • Author
      July 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you as is and I hope that by cutting the cocoa it works for you!

  • July 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve tried grilled, smoked, and slow cooked ribs, the best, by far, have been oven baked!5 stars

  • Dave
    July 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    If you do happen to have a grill, I would lightly rub ribs in olive oil, apply the rub liberally, and let sit over night. Add charcoal to the grill and light according to directions… while the coals are getting hot, place the grate for the grill on the rack so it is very hot. Place the ribs on the rack and let the ribs brown on both sides….. then slow coke them for 3-4 hours at 275F. This gives the ribs that charcoal smokey taste and flavor with the convenience of oven baking. 🙂 I use the mesquite coals since they will have a nice smokier scent.3 stars

    • Author
      July 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Hi Dave,

      We’re still without a grill but saving up for a Traeger. When we get it, I’ll have to try your method 🙂

  • July 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Looks like something my husband would love.

  • Neal
    September 7, 2012 at 7:21 am

    This rub is amazing. I even get my non paleo/primal friends to eat it almost every week!

    • Author
      Kelly Bejelly
      September 7, 2012 at 8:20 am

      Thank you so much Neal! I really appreciate the feedback. You’re either eating a mess of ribs every week or have been using it on other dishes. I’d love to hear more.

  • Wm. Tillis
    September 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    The rib recipe sounds good. I usually use country style ribs as they are meatier and cheaper. I will comment on the results.
    I have had the heartburn problem with coffee and sometimes tomatoes. I put a small amount of baking soda in the pot of coffee and that works. Since I have gone grain free and added probiotics to my diet , I no longer have the problem with tomatoes.

    • Author
      Kelly Bejelly
      October 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      Can’t wait to hear how they went

  • January 26, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Ribs are a huge hit in my house. I’ll have to try these!5 stars

  • January 27, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Oh my these look so good!!!

  • April 27, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Mine are in the oven now….I’ve never ever made ribs before, but was happy to see this sugar-less, grill-less recipe. I have some sugar less BBQ sauce I made, so I may use a bit of that towards the end, but I think I prefer a drier rib to a sloppy saucy one. Thanks! ~Missy4 stars

  • Lori
    February 9, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Tried these Saturday on some baby-backs. Did one rack using this cacao-based recipe, and another rack with a rub based on Coconut palm sugar and chili powder. Both were dry-rubbed, sat for two hours then smoked for 4 hours. All tasters liked this one best. It has a nice, rich taste that melds with the smoked pork beautifully without being overwhelming. Did NOT slather with sauce to eat, but I’m sure it would have been tasty that way too. I think I used a half-teaspoon of cayenne- it could have used a little more. Thanks Chica! Great post.

  • JS
    November 15, 2015 at 11:35 am

    What a hit! The flavor was delicious, not overpowering… Doubled the rub recipe for 3 racks of pork back ribs, and there was a bit left over. I didn’t have cacao or much time to cook, but had unsweetened cocoa, and adjusted the cooking time and they were fall of the bone delicious! Cooked at 350 for 30 mins, then at 250 for 90 mins, opened the foil placed the ribs meat-side up and broiled on high for a short amount of time until the outer layer of meat began to crisp. Easy and delicious!! Thanks for the recipe, it’s a keeper!5 stars

    • November 20, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Yeah! This is a favorite in our house too JS

  • Sylvia Stapor
    February 25, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Making it now….hmmmmm shall see lol

    • February 26, 2019 at 9:10 am

      This is my favorite rub for ribs, hands down!