Sweet and Sour Spareribs

These sweet and sour spareribs, made with pork ribs, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, rice wine, and ketchup, are a Chinese classic.

A blue and white Chinese bowl with sweet and sour spareribs in side, garnished with parsley

Pork is symbolic of prosperity and is a favorite dish served for Chinese New Year’s, which is why it’s sometimes called “good fortune sweet and sour spareribs.” The Chinese also like to serve sweet and sour dishes during this time since the word “sour” in Cantonese, syun, sounds like grandchild and portends the wish for offspring.–Grace Young

LC Playing Favorites Note

We can think of another reason why this dish is a traditional component of Chinese New Year’s festivities, and it has everything to do with how many ribs we just demolished.

Sweet and Sour Spareribs

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 2 to 4
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  • 2 pounds lean pork spareribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese red rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 1. Trim the excess fat from the spareribs. Rinse the ribs in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the spareribs in a 3-quart saucepan, sprinkle with sugar, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid.
  • 2. Add the regular and black soy sauces, vinegar, ketchup, rice wine, and cold water and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the sauce does not dry out (add a little water if necessary), until the spareribs are tender when pierced with a knife and the sauce is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 1 hour.
  • 3. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Skim any excess fat from the surface of the sauce and pour the sauce over the spareribs. Serve immediately.

Recipe Testers Reviews

If you’re looking for an easy and amazingly tasty recipe, this is for you. I made this last night and decided right away to double this recipe. The end result was a very juicy meat filled with flavor that was not overwhelming and not as sweet as I expected, which is a good thing. The cooking time was a tad longer, but that’s due to the fact that I doubled the recipe. The juices were just perfect to spoon over the meat and the mashed potatoes that accompanied the ribs.


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