Lamb Ribs with Spicy Harissa Barbecue Sauce

Step aside, baby backs.

  • Serves

    serves 4

  • Cook

    2 hours 10 minutes


By SAVEUR Editors

Published on June 24, 2021

Perfect for parties, these ribs pre-roast in the oven, then crisp up under the broiler. Ask your butcher for a Denver cut, the lamb rib equivalent of St. Louis–style pork spare ribs, which is a fatty portion from the belly side. The ever-dependable harissa—a North African garlicky chile paste—adorns this dish as a spicy, tangy, layered barbecue sauce.



For the ribs:

  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. smoked hot paprika
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 racks of lamb ribs (3¼ lb. total), cut Denver-style

For the harissa barbecue sauce:

  • ½ cups ketchup
  • 2-3 tbsp. harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Thinly sliced scallions or cilantro leaves, for serving


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 325°F and set a rack in the center.

Step 2

To a large bowl, add the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, and stir to combine. Add the ribs, and rub the seasoning evenly over them.

Step 3

Wrap each rack tightly in foil, and place on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the meat is tender when poked with a knife, about 1½ hours.

Step 4

Meanwhile, make the sauce: To a medium bowl, add the ketchup, harissa, honey, mustard, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk to combine, then set aside.

Step 5

Unwrap the ribs, discarding the foil and any rendered fat. Preheat the broiler, line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of foil, and place a wire rack on top. Set the ribs on the rack and broil, watching closely for burning, until browned and crispy, 5–10 minutes.

Step 6

Remove the baking sheet, brush the ribs with a thin layer of the prepared sauce, then continue broiling until the tops are glazed and sticky, 1–3 minutes more.

Step 7

Remove the racks from the oven, let cool slightly, then slice into individual ribs. Transfer to a platter, top with scallions or cilantro, and serve hot, with extra sauce for dipping.

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