berbere spiced ribs

berbere spiced ribs


Cuisines of the world are as close as your BBQ grill and back yard with these berbere spiced ribs. Taste the intoxicating flavors of berbere spiced ribs!

When Summer rolls around and grilling outdoors becomes a great way to cook, there are smokin’ hot grills all over America with ribs on them! With eight types of ribs, you an get confused. Which do I want? Spare ribs, baby back ribs, St. Louis style, country style, short ribs, flank ribs, riblets, pork or beef ribs? You see how it can make you dizzy. Well, clear your head and run over to King of the Coals and all your confusion will become clear as a a bell on which ribs you want to cook!

Baby Back Ribs

For me, I’m loving pork baby back ribs. I like baby back ribs because they’re mostly lean, meaty and have little cartilage. The most important thing about baby back ribs, they’re easy and almost always come out great. So, for anyone who’s not sure, you might just try the baby back ribs. Success guaranteed!   

BBQ Ribs

BBQ ribs are the quintessential meat to throw on the grill for holidays like July 4th, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. It’s like hot dogs at a baseball game. You go with what is a natural companion to the event. BBQ ribs aren’t a lot of work and if you use a prepared BBQ sauce then you’ve saved yourself some timely steps in making your own. There are some might fine BBQ sauces out there, craft, artisan, mass produced and more. Most folks living in a neighborhood have at least one person who makes their own BBQ sauce, so hit them up for some! Now what makes these BBQ ribs different is that they’re a twist on Ethiopian food! 

Ethiopian Food

Most of the time, if you want to experience Ethiopian food you have to live in a well-diverse and, oftentimes, larger city. But, these BBQ ribs will let you have a taste of Ethiopian food without leaving home. Ethiopian food is most healthy and full of stews, vegetables, immense flavor and spiciness. Berbere spice is their most popular mixture, and everyone has their own recipe usually. Kind of like homemade BBQ sauces. Everyone has their recipe for success. Cuisines of the world are as close as your BBQ grill and back yard with these berbere spiced ribs! Check out my recipe for berbere spice mixture in my cookbook, Ally’s Kitchen A Passport for Adventurous Palates.

Berbere Spice

“Berberé is made from a cupboard-full of herbs and spices, fresh-ground, pan-roasted, and then packed into jars for storage. Among Ethiopian cooks there are many variations of which spices and what amounts. (In the recipe below, ingredients marked “optional” seem to be the least common.) Basic berberé is made by combining roughly equal amounts of allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, and salt with a much larger amount of hot red (cayenne) pepper. The combination of fenugreek and red pepper is essential to berberé; while one or two of the other ingredients may be left out, the fenugreek and red pepper are must-haves. Milder berberé can be made by substituting paprika for some or most of the red pepper. Berberé is sometimes made as a dry spice mix, and is sometimes made with oil or water to form a paste.” Congo Cookbook

Wiki explains berbere spice like this, Berbere (Amharic: በርበሬ berberēTigrinya: በርበረ berbere) is a spice mixture, whose ingredients usually include chili peppersgarlicginger, dried basilkorarimarue, white and black pepper and fenugreek.[1][2] It is a key ingredient in the cuisines of Ethiopia and EritreaBerberé (or Berbere) is an Ethiopian spice mixture that is the flavoring foundation of Ethiopian cuisine, a basic ingredient in Dabo KoloDoro Wat, and many other dishes.

You can also make this spice mixture into a paste by adding a little olive oil and tomato paste. Make it into the thickness you desire. 

Also, have a look at some of these spices:

Cumin & Ancho Chili Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Creamy Spicy Root Soup
Bohemian Lasagna with Veggies
skillet salmon with bleu cheese & dill
Chardonnay Raspberry Spicy BBQ
Sweet & Smoky Hibachi Peach Pork BBQ

berbere spiced ribs

berbere spiced ribs

berbere spiced ribs

Yield: Feeds about 4-7 folks

Cuisines of the world are as close as your BBQ grill and back yard with these berbere spiced ribs. Taste the intoxicating flavors of berbere spiced ribs!


  • 3 Tbl. berbere spice mixture
  • ½ tsp. hot paprika
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs. baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite store purchased)


In a small bowl, mix together the berbere, paprika salt and pepper.  Rub on both sides of the ribs.

Wrap ribs in foil or paper (brown grocery store bag) and refrigerate for about 6 hours. Remove and let them come to rest at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes.

Slather on top your favorite BBQ sauce and grill at a medium low temperature until done.  

The individual ribs will pull away from the bone without much effort.

Let rest about 10 minutes and serve with more BBQ sauce if you like.


My cookbook, Ally's Kitchen~ A Passport for Adventurous Palates, has my recipe for berbere in it! If you don't have it, you can buy on Amazon. Or you can use a substitute spice mixture like Harissa or Ras el Hanut.

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berbere spiced ribs

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  1. Anonymous says:

    gonna try this tonight with some BBQ chicken. Typed “Berebere mixed with BBQ sauce” and there it is! WA-LA.

    1. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Wish I was there! They’re gonna be soooooooooo good! Please let me know, luv, and don’t be a stranger!! Come hang w/me again soon! xoxx ally

  2. These ribs are incredible. We got a bit of a late start and didn’t marinate the ribs beforehand. We put them on the smoker at 300 for 2.5 hours and every half an hour we poured a bit of dry apple cider on them. We used bone suckin’ sauce for the BBQ sauce and it was absolutely incredible.

    1. Hi Betsy! My goodness, I loved reading your comment. Thank you so very much. I love the apple cider bath every about 30 minutes. My stomach is growing as I’m writing to you! Thank you, my friend, and please come back soon! xo ~ally

  3. Thanks for the recipe. I went to Ethiopia last year, Addis, and loved the food and spices. I wanted to try something new with ribs with the Berbere I got from an Ethiopian. They turned out real good. Nice and spicy. I basted them with a Ethiopian spiced bbq sauce I found online. It was ok. I will use a sweeter sauce next time.

    1. Ken! Oh, I’m so jealous that you got to go to Ethiopia! On my bucket list! Yes, I love the spiciness and different flavors of the Berbere. You could probably put together a concoction of things and make your own BBQ berbere using the spice mixture, too. Thanks so so much for sharing w/me~ ally

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am cooking for someone from the Congo and at some point I will try this. I have done one of ur recipes before and it was dead on but needed more salt and as an American I never use salt when cooking even when using fresh vegetables but usr was about 2.5 off. Everyone’s taste is different but as a white American I don’t want my food to be perceived as a typical Americans. I am serious about cooking so plz help any dish to be authentic and let me know what I need to do different. Thx

    1. Dear Anonymous Friend…thank you for trying my recipe. This is my interpretation of the spice mixture ‘Berbere’ and it’s always pleased folks. Yes, salt is a personal palate preference, so taste taste taste and make your food please your palate and those who you are cooking for! What can you do to be different? That’s a big question! Maybe just using different spice mixtures like this berbere. You might want to check out my cookbook where I give you recipes for making your own versions of spice mixtures like harissa, ras el hanut, dukkah. So glad you are serious about cooking and love it! I’m sure you’re just amazing! Many thank yous! ~ally

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I have never in my life used berbere.. however married someone who is half ethiopian and his mum keeps sending us jars and jars of the stuff and i have no idea what to do with it lol this is a good start will try this weekend. thanks

    1. Oh you are so lucky! Berbere is such a versatile aromatic spice mixture! Try putting a little in olive oil for a dipping sauce, season meat and veggies and more! ???

  6. Anonymous says:

    How much bbq sauce?

    1. Hey, luv! I used a about one cup…of course, it’s totally up to you and your palate as to how much you want to slater on! Thanks for asking!! Now come back soon! xo ~ally

  7. Our Book Club recently read Cutting for Stone and I’ve been wanting to try some Ethiopian food to go along with the theme of the book. This recipe looks perfect and the ribs look delish! Thanks for sharing it.

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