Pork Ribs with Spicy Chili Adobo Sauce

Pork ribs are one of my favorite meat dishes but my enthusiasm for them has always been curbed by the disappointing taste of the various store-bought BBQ sauces that are usually served along with them. So I finally decided to come up with a sauce for ribs myself and I have to say I love it! This chili adobo sauce is nicely spicy (if you want it a little more mellow, just add less of the ground chipotle pepper), a little sweet, a little sour and a little fruity. It complements the melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone ribs perfectly and is very easy to make. Enjoy!

Melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs with a homemade spicy chili adobo sauce.
To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.


 Pork Ribs with Spicy Chili Adobo Sauce Recipe

serves 4


For the ribs:

  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 rack pork ribs

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, mined or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground red chipotle pepper**
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce



For the ribs:

  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Mix ground mustard seeds, paprika, garlic, salt and sugar together in a bowl, then rub on the ribs.
  3. Lay ribs on a baking sheet lined with two layers of aluminum foil.
  4. Lay two layers of aluminum foil on top and seal the edges tightly.
  5. Bake in the oven for 3.5 hours.

For the sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan.
  2. Add the onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for a minute.
  4. Add chili and chipotle powder and cook for one minute.
  5. Stir in crushed tomatoes, sugar, cider vinegar and soy sauce.
  6. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with the ribs.



*I used Penzey’s Hungarian style half-sharp paprika.

**I used Penzey’s ground red chipotle pepper.


Food Photography and Styling: I wanted to be sure to show the sauce prominently in this photo because it’s an important (if not actually the most important) part of this recipe. To do that I chose to shoot from an overhead perspective and that made the ribs a bit challenging. Showing just a chunk of four or five ribs in one piece looked too uniform and boring, so I cut individual ribs from the rack and showed some of them from the top, some from the bottom and some from the side to create a little variety. To tell the viewer that this recipe is spicy I placed dried peppers in the composition as well and luckily their color worked nicely with the rest of the set. I lit the scene from the side with my strobe and blocked the light in the top and bottom parts of the frame to create a spotlight on the ribs.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/11, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.


    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Kevin! I’m definitely planning on checking out many more of your recipes after your stuffed poblanos were such a success. :)

  1. mila furman says:

    I love this recipe. But I love your pictures even more! And I think it’s so terrific that you even list how you did this! Dark moody pictures like this are always a mystery to me so I am glad that you talked about the details!

  2. Nagi@RecipeTin Eats says:

    You made your own adobo sauce! OMG, I totally cheat and use the stuff that comes in the cans with the chili. I have to try this homemade version! Especially because chipotle in adobo sauce is actually quite hard to track down in Australia :) (Oh, goes without saying re: photos – JAW DROP as always)

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