Bourbon Baby Back Ribs Recipe

Baby back pork ribs get extra tender thanks to low and slow cooking on indirect heat. The bourbon-based barbecue sauce balances tangy, sweet, and spicy.

Recipe Facts



Active: 45 mins
Total: 14 hrs
Serves: 6 servings

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  • For Bourbon Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 bunches scallions, white and light green sections finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cup chopped white onion
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2/3 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup bourbon, such as Knob Creek
  • For Ribs:
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 pounds baby back pork ribs


  1. Make Sauce: Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add scallions and onions and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes.

  2. Add garlic and continue to sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.

  3. Add brown sugar, tomato paste, ketchup, mustard, water, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Ancho chili powder, and cumin to pot. Whisk until combined.

  4. Add bourbon and whisk until combined. Cook sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick sauce, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

  5. Make ribs: In a small bowl, whisk together cayenne, chili powder, cinnamon, mustard, cumin, cardamom, and salt.

  6. Rub ribs all over with olive oil. Rub spice mixture over ribs to coat. Let rest in refrigerator, covered, overnight.

  7. Preheat oven to 225°F. Wrap ribs in foil and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes.

  8. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to 225°F using indirect heat. To heat only one side on a charcoal grill, simply push the coals to one side. On a gas grill, turn off all the burners except one or two. Use an oven thermometer to make sure that heat stays constant throughout cooking.

  9. Place ribs on indirect heat side of the grill. Close the grill.

  10. Cook ribs on grill for 1.5 to 2.5 hours, until meat is tender. When picked up with tongs and lightly bounced against grill, the skin of the ribs should crack.

  11. Remove ribs to a platter and brush all over with sauce. Raise grill temperature to 400°F and place ribs on heat. Cook each until browned and caramelized, about 4 minutes per side.

  12. Slice meat into individual ribs. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

Special equipment

charcoal or gas grill

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