Rib of the Week: Candied Maple Sesame Ribs

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I’ll say it again: I swear we eat more than meat.

The ribs I made the other night got me thinking about other seasonal, autumn-y things I could do with beef spare ribs.

These are a really interesting first course for a harvest-season dinner. Because they’re sweet, I think they’d be overpowering as the main meal. I love them, but can never eat more than one or two at a time.

The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and develops a caramelized, glossy crust from cooking in a relatively hot oven. The garlic, salt, and pepper balance out the maple syrup, so the meat is warm, spicy, and sweet—but not cloying. The sesame seeds provide texture, contrast, and a little nuttiness.

As they roast, your kitchen will fill with an amazing maple-nut aroma.

Ribs as a first-course
I like to serve ribs as an appetizer when we have folks over to dinner because it’s unexpected. The look on their faces when presented with a single, large, meaty rib never fails to make me have a little giggle fit.

This is a kind of Martha-ish thing to do, but I always make sure to set a bowl of warm, wet hand towels on the table when I bring the ribs out. You want folks to enjoy eating like a savage—then give them a way to instantly clean up so they’re not uncomfortable.

This is more technique, less recipe
That’s why are no measurements below. If you’re serving them as a first course, count on one rib per person, with maybe one or two extra for leftovers.

For technique, there’s a lot of imprecise sprinkling and slathering. The goal is to get the ribs coated and get them in the oven, so you can get back to whatever else you’re cooking.

You’ll get your hands sticky, but that’s a small price to pay for an impressive-looking appetizer that takes maybe 5 minutes to throw together. Your oven does all the hard work for you.

Candied Maple Sesame Ribs

beef spare ribs
kosher salt
garlic powder
grade-A maple syrup
freshly cracked black pepper
sesame seeds

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil. If you’re feeding a crowd, you might need two or more pans.

Lay the ribs out on your prepared pan.

Sprinkle them generously on all sides with kosher salt to taste. The salt serves to balance out the sweetness from the maple syrup.

Now sprinkle the ribs on all sides with garlic powder.

Drizzle each rib with a fair amount of maple syrup.

You want them to look about like this:

Use your hands to spread the syrup over each rib, getting all sides. Scoop up the maple syrup that’s on the pan and slather it back on. Like I said, this is fairly imprecise. The goal is to get each rib fairly coated with maple syrup.

Crack some black pepper over the ribs.

Sprinkle the ribs liberally with sesame seeds. I tend to like a lot of sesame seeds, but definitely adjust the coverage as you see fit.

Roast and serve
Put them in a 350 degree oven and roast for about an hour.

They’re done when the meat has developed a good brown crust and has shrunk slightly from the ends of the bones. The meat should come away easily when you pull at it with a fork. They should look about like this:

Sprinkle with a little kosher salt before plating. Serves one per person as a first course. Enjoy!


Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Looks awesome! I wish I were at your home for dinner! Keep the meat coming...I eat more than just sweets too, but that seems to be what I post the most about! :)
  2. HoneyB--Awww, come on over! Hehe. And sweets are great. Gotta cook the stuff you love. Dlyn--Thanks! And thanks for the link love. That squash looks amazing! Jason--I'd love to know how they turn out in the smoker! Jo--Thanks, hon. Kang--Amen. Juliet--Thanks so much! +Jessie
  3. I am now a hungry mouse addict. I had no intention of logging onto the internet today, but then I realized I had to see what you had cooking, and I wasn't dissapointed! Yum, yum...I just ate and you made me hungry again!
  4. Marilyn--Hehe, nothing wrong with that! Thanks! Laurie--Thanks so much! :D I hope you like them. Foong--Hehehehe...Thanks so much. :D Zena--Aww, I'm blushing. Thank you kindly. That's very nice of you to say. +Jessie
  5. I'm going to make these tonight, although with pork because that what I have from my meat CSA. I'll let you know how it turns out! Next we'll be trying the Chipotle Lime ones!
  6. Hi...can i do the same with pork ribs? (i have a couple racks in the freezer already). Would you change anything or adjust the cooking time? Thanks...Matt