chinese food/dinner/meat/recipes

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe

Posted September 3, 2017 by Stephanie
Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

Labor Day long weekend vibes! What is it about the last long weekend in summer that makes me so absurdly happy and sad at the same time? Is it that in the early morning, I can feel that tell-tale fall chill in the air for about 5 minutes before the sun burns it off? Or is it that it’s still hot out but some people are trying to rock the cozy sweater look? Whatever it is, it reminds me that fall is coming, and I’ve got to take advantage of every last second of summer.

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

I’ve been feeling hopeful lately, which is funny because, as emo fifteen year old me would have said, fall is the season of things dying – dying prettily, but, autumn leaves are dead leaves. But, hopeful me says fall’s the season of sweaters and shorts at the same time, crispy fall days, and all the pumpkin spice things. Somehow, I grew up: weird emo kid to totally basic. Why, yes I have a pair of Uggs and I like the Chainsmokers. Growing up is all about owning the things you love and not being ashamed of who you are. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

So, with that, I unabashedly LOVE these ribs. Ribs are my jam. I used to make ribs at home all the time when I was in high school. Back then, it was a boil and bake situation with store bought bbq sauce and my family loved them. I am still a boil and bake ribs kind of girl because a.) we don’t have a smoker and b.) we don’t actually have a grill that will fit a whole rack of ribs. This time though, I skipped out on the boiling and broke out the sous vide because any recipe that will let me chill out and do nothing while it’s cooking is my kind of recipe.

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

Of course, as any good rib lover knows, ribs are all about the sauce and this sauce doesn’t disappoint. It’s an addictively sweet, spicy, vinegary North Carolina style barbecue sauce with Sichuan peppercorns. Mike came up with the idea of North Carolina sauce and I went on deep google dive. As far as the internet is concerned, Northern Carolina barbecue sauce is a sweet spicy vinegar ketchup based sauce. I put a little twist on it, adding in Sichuan chili flakes, as well as whole toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns. The result? One of the best (and only?) homemade barbecue sauces I’ve made. Sweet and tangy (thanks to a combo of ketchup and black Chinese vinegar), with that famous numbing delicate floral spiciness from the Sichuan peppercorns. Seriously finger licking good.

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe -

Happy Labor Day weekend – hope there are some sticky ribs and corn involved!
xoxo steph

PS – Mike did a redesign and I’m still swooning over everything. I’m in LOVE!

Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe
makes 1 rack of ribs


  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorn, toasted
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 rack pork back ribs


  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons black Chinese vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns, or to taste
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

To serve:

  • sliced red onions
  • sliced cucumbers
  • cilantro
  • extra Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted, optional

Note: I used Sichuan chili flakes, which is why they’re so vibrantly red, but if you don’t have them, regular crushed chili flakes will work too, but please don’t skip out on the whole Sichuan peppercorns. Go here for a source for Sichuan peppercorns and more info on how to grind your peppercorns. You should also be able to find Sichuan peppercorns (ground and whole) and chili flakes at your local Chinese grocery store.

Fill a large pot or heatproof container with water and set the sous vide machine to 165°F.

Mix together the rub ingredients.If there’s a thin membrane on the back of your ribs (when the ribs are placed meaty side down) loosen and remove. Cut the rack of ribs in half evenly and sprinkle on the rub evenly on both sides. Place ribs in a vacuum seal bag and seal. Place in the water and sous vide for 4 hours.

While the ribs are cooking, make the sauce: heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, cooking until soft, but not brown. Add the garlic and cook. Stir in the ketchup and water. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove the star anise, bay leaf, and blend until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and extra ground chili flakes and ground peppercorns to taste.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. When the ribs are done, carefully remove them from the bag and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Finish the ribs in the oven, brushing with the sauce and flipping, every so often for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, slice and finish with extra sauce, garnishing with cilantro, sliced red onions, sliced cucumbers, and extra toasted Sichuan peppercorns, if desired. Enjoy!


  1. Indie says:

    Long time reader, not big on posting but just had to say that the new design is incredible, and paired with your top notch photos has to be one of the best looking food blogs I’ve ever seen!

    1. Stephanie says:

      thanks so much for the kind words indie :)
      and thanks for being a long time reader!!!!

  2. Sam says:

    Here for the education in food photography as per :)

    1. Stephanie says:

      thanks for dropping by sam :)

  3. Bach says:

    The NC style sauce you made is Lexington style West-NC bbq sauce. Sauces in the Carolinas are very regional. In Eastern NC there is a more peppery vinegar sauce without ketchup that goes with chopped bbq – full of delicious crackling throughout. In South Carolina there’s four types including a mustard, vinegar, tomato, and a special orange sauce native to a town in the state. Lots of diversity!

    I love the idea of Sichuan peppercorns here though, I certainly see the appeal of adding a little spice to the classic NC version.

    1. Stephanie says:

      i love how there are so many regional varieties. i tried to find a good online source that detailed all the differences, but didn’t get very far.

      that chopped bbq with crackling sounds delicious! and the orange sauce sounds intriguing too. gonna have to do some more google research :)

  4. I have recently started making ribs and I so love it!! Can’t wait to try this sauce. I don’t have a sous vide so might be a boil and grill or bake and grill situation!

    1. Stephanie says:

      ooh i hope you try it! if you don’t have a boil and bake situation that you already love, you can always just bake them. i find this works well: do the dry rub and a little bit of sauce and wrap in foil and bake at 325°F for 2.5-3 hours. they should be nice and tender, then you can remove them from the foil and do the whole brush and bake sauce on situation. let me know if you try the sauce! :)

  5. um these sound FANTASTIC (plus yesss give me the corn). and i love the redesign! also super impressed that you guys do redesigns so frequently! that’s not even on my mind most of the time lol.

    1. Stephanie says:

      the grilled corn was SO good :)

  6. Mandy says:

    I’m here for the barbeque sauce. Practically drooling.
    And I love the redesign. Each one is better than the one before!

  7. Sophie says:

    I cracked up thinking about the weird emo kid growing up totally basic. I also grew up and just got tired of not liking things. When I recently told my O.G. hipster mom that I like Taylor Swift she shook her head and seriously stated “I don’t know how you turned out this way.” Ha!

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