As a rule, Oktoberfest is all about the beer, but not in my eyes, as I love feasting on pub fare, which goes so well with beer or strong apple juice served in humongous mugs, smacked on the wooden benches in front of my favourite dish – Austrian ribs with all its condiments – crispy potato wedges, pickled peppers and the most insane garlic sour cream dipping sauce that compliments the wedges and ribs.

My recipe is pretty close to the real thing using my homemade caraway and apple spice rub plus cooking the ribs “low and slow” for the most succulent, fall of the bone, tender ribs you could wish for. If you plan to serve them up at a BBQ, these can be made in advance in the oven and simply finished off directly over some hot coals on both sides to give it a more crisp appearance and smoky BBQ flavour.

Baby back pork ribs are the best ribs to use!! These come from the part of the ribs that are connected to the backbone, beneath the loin muscle, and are curved where they meet the spine. These are called babies due to them being shorter than standard spare ribs.

Austrian ribs are sold across the country from the ski slope huts to Vienna’s many beer gardens and taverns. What sets them apart from other ribs, is the addition of caraway seeds and apple puree. Caraway seeds, either whole or ground are used extensively in many Austrian recipes and give a distinct flavour to the ribs.

With our current Corona restrictive situations, it is a distant memory enjoying a meal and a drink in a crowded marquee with hundreds of thirsty and hungry “Oktoberfesters”, but at least the food can be replicated in your home…why not have an Oktoberfest occasion with your friend/family “bubble”. Buy one of the many “gluten-free” beer or ciders available and get busy making these ribs. Hopefully, you will all be singing and dancing. Preferably in your lederhosen or dirndl, but under the circumstances, pyjamas or tracksuits will do!

Gluten-Free Austrian Ribs with Potato Wedges and Garlic Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

  • 6 baby-back pork ribs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300-3500g store-bought or homemade apple sauce (see below) 
  • 1-litre clear or cloudy apple juice
  • 200ml store-bought barbecue sauce, optional (check for gluten ingredients)
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (only season once the ribs are cooked)
  • Pickled long green peppers, to serve (optional)

For the Austrian rib spice rub:

  • 4 tablespoons caraway seeds, whole or ground
  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

For the homemade apple sauce:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples or any variety of green apples in season, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder

For the potato wedges:

  • 500g potatoes, unpeeled, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour

For the garlic sour cream dipping sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
  • 250ml sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, finely sliced or snipped
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time for apple sauce: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time for ribs: 2 hours – 2.15 hours
  • Cooking time for potatoes: 40 minutes

1. If making homemade apple sauce, prepare the sauce by adding the small apple pieces to 100ml of water in a small saucepan.

2. Add the lemon juice, salt and cinnamon powder and mix together.

3. Cover and cook the apple mixture over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the apples are soft enough to mash.

4. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture until smooth.

5. Set aside to cool.

6. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F.

7. Mix all the Austrian ribs spice rub ingredients together in a medium bowl. If using whole caraway seeds, grind them to a fine powder and add them to the rest of the spice rub ingredients. Keep them whole if you prefer and don’t mind the texture.

8. Brush olive oil on the base of a deep-sided roasting pan and place the ribs on top of each other.

9. Pat the ribs dry with several paper towels to absorb any moisture.

10. Using plastic disposable gloves, rub in the apple sauce, massaging well into the ribs. Allow any excess apple sauce to fall to the bottom of the pan.

11. Rub the spice rub mixture into each rib.

12. Pour 500ml apple juice around the ribs.

13. Cover the roasting pan with foil and position it in the centre of the oven. Cook for one hour.

14. Remove the ribs from the oven and add an additional 250ml of apple juice. Cover and return to the oven to cook for another 30 minutes.

15. Prepare the potato wedges: Clean the potatoes well and cut them into wedges.

16. Mix them in a baking tray with olive oil, salt, pepper and flour. Set aside.

17. Remove the ribs from the oven and increase the temperature to 180°C/350°F.

18. Brush the ribs on both sides with the optional BBQ sauce if you like a thicker coating of sauce and add the remaining 250ml apple juice around the ribs.

19. Return the ribs uncovered to the oven on the lowest shelf for a final 30 minutes. Place the other tray with the potato wedges on the highest shelf.

20. Once the ribs look nicely browned and slightly charred on the edges, remove them from the oven, immediately sprinkle each rib with salt and cover them with foil to keep warm.

21. Continue roasting the potato wedges for another 10 minutes, or until they appear golden and crisp. Taste and season more if necessary.

22. Mix all the garlic sour cream ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until serving time.

23. Plate up each rib with the potato wedges, pickled long green peppers and garlic sour cream dipping sauce and more BBQ sauce. Serve with a side of fresh salad.

  • Makes 6 servings
  • Cooked ribs keep for 3 days chilled
  • Ribs are suitable to freeze raw or cooked


If you would like a crispier exterior, turn the grill on to 180°C/350°F and flash the ribs under the grill for 5-10 mins on each side.