Roasted Watermelon Pork Ribs

One of my favorite chefs, Floyd Cardoz, makes a dish that uses watermelon as a sauce for fish. When I first ate it, the whole concept delighted me: the little bit of sweet balanced out and complemented the savory. I have always loved watermelon with barbecue, so the fish dish inspired me to take the concept and flip it around with pork. It is unexpected but works so perfectly you’ll wonder why you weren’t making a watermelon sauce before.

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

Reprinted with permission from BRING IT! © 2018 by Ali Rosen, Running Press


For the Ribs

  • 3 racks of baby back ribs (about 5 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 6 cups (roughly 2 pounds) seedless watermelon
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey


Step 1

Blend the watermelon in a blender until there are no chunks left. Add the watermelon to a wide pot with the vinegar and bring it up to a boil. Let the purée reduce for 20 to 30 minutes until it has reached a thick ketchup-like consistency. The timing will depend on the size of your pot: if you want to speed it up, try using a Dutch oven or a large, wide skillet. Add in the honey and stir.

Step 2

While the sauce is reducing, turn on your broiler. Salt the ribs generously on both sides and place on a wire rack on top of a sheet pan. Put the ribs in the oven under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, with the meat side up. Remove once the meat has started to brown and let cool. Reduce the temperature to 300°F.

Step 3

Take the ribs off the rack and set them on a few large sheets of aluminum foil: you’re going to wrap the ribs tightly so be generous with the foil. Brush the watermelon sauce on top of the ribs, add another sprinkling of salt and some pepper, and then wrap the ribs in the aluminum foil. Be careful to wrap them well and with a few layers: if the juices start leaking out you can end up with a lot of burned sauce in your pan.

Place the wrapped ribs on a sheet pan and put in the oven. Cook them for 2½ to 3 hours (depending on their size and how tender you like them). Remove from the oven, unwrap, and serve.

photo by Noah Fecks

From the Kitchen

How other cooks made this recipe

I love the combination of garlic and honey. You will too after you've tried this recipe