Barbecued Baby Back Ribs Throwdown

Prep Time 30 min

Cook Time 3 hr

Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins

Two different sauces; both make for amazing barbecue ribs.


  • 6-8 pounds baby back ribs

Ingredients for the Dry Rub

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each cloves, garlic powder, tarragon, thyme, mustard, paprika (I think you can be real creative with these; next time want to try Chinese Five Spice

Ingredients for the Bourbon Maple Barbecue Sauce

  • 6-8 pounds baby back ribs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil combined with 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or put through a garlic press
  • 1 can (15-16 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Couple of dashes of hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup bourbon (duh, yeah I used a cup!)

Ingredients for the Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cherry preserves (I had so many cherries, I did a quick preserve but will also use a store product if cherries are not available
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from can (I originally made this with one chile to not make it too hot for more sensitive palates; despite it's popularity as is, I added more chipotle to this sauce the next day and I much prefer the slight additional heat
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


    To Make the Bourbon Maple Barbecue Sauce:

    1. Saute onion in combination of oil and butter til tender.
    2. Add garlic and saute for two minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook down til deep in color and thickened, 25-30 minutes.
    3. Using a food processor, blender or stick blender, blend all ingredients until just smooth; I like it just a little bit chunky.

    To Make the Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce:

    1. Bring ketchup, cherry preserves, lemon juice, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon peel, chiles, adobo sauce, liquid smoke, onion powder, and cocoa powder to simmer in medium saucepan, stirring often.
    2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

    To Make the Ribs:

    1. Pat ribs and rub dry mixture all over. Place in ovenproof dish (I used my turkey roaster; held three racks).
    2. Fill bottom of roaster with 1 cup of your favorite bourbon whiskey or beer with equal amount of water and 10-15 dashes of Liquid Smoke. Check occasionally; you always want some liquid in the bottom of the roaster.
    3. Cover tightly with foil and cook using ambient heat. Turn two burners on and place the roasting pan on top of the two burners that are off. One word of warning...the temperature control on my grill indicated 250 but wasn't accurate for the temp inside the pan so I had to turn up the degrees to get the meat cooking so be sure to check the internal temp of your grill. You want it to cook slow but still needs to be 200-250 degrees inside the grill.
    4. Cook for two hours, changing the direction of the pan occasionally to insure even heating and re-arranging the meat at least once to insure even cooking.
    5. Remove ribs from pan, empty pan juices, cut ribs into serving portions and cover with sauce. Cover pan and cook for an additional 30-60 minutes. I configured two separate chambers from heavy duty aluminum foil so I could keep all the ribs in one pan.

    Recipe Notes

    My personal preference is to not put the meat directly on the grill and char; the meat is moist and tender and not dried out like so many ribs I've eaten. If you want a bit of char; I would suggest you remove from the roaster and cook on each side for 5-7 minutes just to get some burn marks. Whichever method you prefer; serve by cutting into serving portions and pass the extra sauce.

    Sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate

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