Recipe Review: Sweet Cola Ribs

Do you enjoy cooking?  I do, enough so that I’d consider it a hobby of mine.  I don’t cook a lot – mainly on weekends.  We tend to eat pretty basic meals during the week when time is at a premium, while I whip up bigger meals on weekends.  I love scouring the internet for new recipes to try so I thought it might be fun to share the recipes I’ve tested with you.

A little sidenote here: I’m going to have to get better at making my pictures Instagram-worthy.  But honestly after cooking all day the last thing I felt like doing was putting a photoshoot together – I just wanted to eat!  I don’t know how these food bloggers do it!

So this past weekend I decided I wanted to attempt pork ribs for the first time.  Prior to this I’ve never cooked ribs before (aside from beef short ribs) – they just seemed intimidating. I think because I had seen recipes where you had to boil them for hours on end and then put them on the bbq or the oven after and I wasn’t really interested in doing that.  Thankfully I came across this Sweet Cola Ribs recipe by The Neelys on (one of my favourite websites for recipes!) that didn’t require boiling the ribs beforehand.  In addition, it sounded delicious and had some good reviews.  It did have a fair amount of steps involved (including making a homemade dry rub and bbq sauce!) but none of them seemed that complicated and I have to say that the end result was definitely worth the effort!

The Recipe

The Neelys’ Sweet Cola Ribs

Total: 15 hr 10 min

Yield: 4 servings

Level: Easy

Sweet Cola BBQ Sauce

Dry Rub



For the sauce

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add oil. Once heated, add the onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

For the dry rub

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. This can be stored up to 6 months in an airtight container.

For the ribs

Rinse and dry ribs. Place on a clean cutting board, pull off the membrane and trim the ribs of excess fat. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with rub. Wrap ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours so flavours can permeate.

Preheat grill to 250 degrees F. using hickory and charcoal. Set up your grill for indirect heat.

Place ribs, meatier side down, on the grill away from the coals. Close grill cover. Cook the pork ribs for 1 hour 15 minutes; flipping several times for even cook. Coat ribs with sweet cola barbecue sauce and cook for another 20 minutes.


This was the most difficult step of the entire recipe – I read online that it was important to remove the membrane/silver skin that lines the back of the ribs – otherwise the ribs can be chewy and lack flavour because the dry rub won’t permeate through to the meat. I watched a few videos on the process and it seemed simple enough – basically you take the blunt end of a knife and lift it under the membrane and it should just pull off.  However it wasn’t that easy for me – I couldn’t get a handle on it and it didn’t just pull off in one piece.  On top of that I don’t even know if it was the membrane that I was removing – I read online that sometimes Costco removes them for you (but not always).  After multiple attempts I just kind of gave up and went with what I had.  The ribs turned out tender so either I removed it well enough or it was already removed for me.



  • I used grapeseed oil in place of vegetable oil (because it’s the oil I cook with)
  • I swapped the can of Cola with a can of Dr. Pepper.  We only had Coke Life in the house which is made with stevia and isn’t as sweet.
  • Instead of 1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar, I used 1/4 cup of White Vinegar and 1/4 of Apple Cider Vinegar.  There was already a lot of sweet components in this sauce so I thought splitting it between the two would cut the sweet a little bit.
  • I used 1/4 of onion powder instead of 1/2 tablespoon as I find onion powder really overpowering (plus there’s already chopped onion in the sauce)
  • I added a generous sprinkle of Smoked Paprika
  • I substituted lime juice for lemon juice because I didn’t have lemon juice on hand
  • I simmered the sauce for probably around 4 hours rather than the suggested 1.5 hours.  I did taste it after the 1.5 hour mark and it was good but I felt the flavours were definitely intensified after simmering for longer
  • The recipe didn’t mention anything about straining or blending the sauce but I hate chunky sauces so I strained mine before serving


  • I added 1/4 teaspoon of Johnny’s Garlic Spread & Seasoning and a 1/4 teaspoon of Club House’s Italiano Seasoning.
  • I didn’t use all of the rub – I applied a generous layer to the ribs and then some, and still had some leftover (which I put it stored away for next time)
  • I let the rub sit on the ribs for about 6 hours before cooking


We cooked the ribs for 1.5 hours total, basting them in the last 1/2 hour.


We paired the ribs with a caesar salad, roasted baby potatoes and corn on the cob.


4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this recipe!  The ribs were very flavourful and tender.  Unfortunately I think we overcooked them a bit as they were slightly dry – I misread the recipe so I probably should have only cooked them for an hour tops (our ribs were smaller than what they listed in the recipe).  That’s not the recipe’s fault though!

Another sidenote – I picked up my ribs at Costco and I’d definitely recommend it.  I paid around $19 CAD for approx. 4 lbs/2 kgs of ribs.

I’m glad that I reduced the amount of onion powder in the bbq sauce; after simmering for 1.5 hours I found it very oniony (simmering it for longer seemed to help with that).  I liked the kick that the white vinegar added to it as well.

What I’d do differently next time

  • Cook the ribs a little less
  • Add a little more smoky paprika
  • Apply the dry rub the night before for more intense flavour

Do you have a favourite bbq rib recipe?  Please share it with me below!


  1. Chris says

    My goodness that looks delicious!! My mom does something with cola + meat, too, but not ribs. Why did I not think of that?!

    And yeah you can never overdo smoked paprika!

  2. stashy says

    This would a a life goal for the SO. I do not like ribs but he LOVES them. Being in a condo, there’s only a shared barbecue so there’s no way we could commandeer it for an hour and a half! XD

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