Episode 303: Best Ribs Ever

Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs with Chipotle Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Spice Rubbed Baby Backs with Chipotle Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Other Recipes from Episode 303: Best Ribs Ever


Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs with Chipotle Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes 2 racks serving 2 to 4
  • Method: Smoking/Indirect


  • 2 racks baby back ribs (each 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

For the rub:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed

  • 1/2 cup apple cider in a spray bottle (optional)

Recipe Steps

1: Place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the papery membrane on the concave side of the ribs (pry it up at the end of the bones with the tip of the meat thermometer, then pull it off with a paper towel). Note: Some ribs come with the membrane already removed.

2: Lightly brush the ribs on both sides with mustard.

3: Combine the chili powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and celery seeds in a small bowl and mix with your fingers to make a rub. Sprinkle most of the rub on the ribs, coating both sides, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons for serving.

4: Place the apple cider in a spray bottle (if using). Make the Chipotle Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and set aside.

5: Meanwhile, set up your smoker for indirect grilling and heat to 300 degrees.

6: Arrange the ribs meat (rounded) side up on the grate. Cover the smoker.

7: Smoke the ribs for 1 hour. Spray on both sides with apple juice (if using), turning the ribs with tongs.

8: Continue smoking the ribs, rounded side up, until sizzling, browned, tender, and the meat has shrunk back from the ends of the bones by 1/4 to 1/2 inch. This normally takes 3 to 3-1/2 hours in all, but sometimes you’ll need a full 3 hours. The last 20 minutes, brush the ribs with some Chipotle Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. When ready, the meat should be tender enough so you can pull the individual ribs apart with your fingers.

9: Brush each rack with more barbecue sauce and smoke for an additional 15 minutes, or until the sauce sets.

10: Transfer the ribs to a platter for serving. Brush once more with barbecue sauce and sprinkle the ribs with the remaining rub. Serve the remaining sauce in a bowl on the side.

Recipe Tips

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Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2021 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein

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