Baby Back Ribs with Sweet and Sticky Sauce

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


These ribs are based on ones served at the Smokestack restaurant in Kansas City. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2011 BBQ issue along with Brooke Kroeger's story Ribs and Ritual.


For the Rub

  • 12 cup sweet paprika
  • 13 cup onion powder
  • 14 cup ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. celery seeds
  • 3 tbsp. dry mustard powder
  • 3 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs (about 2 lb. each)

For the Sauce

  • 3 cups canned whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 13 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 14 cup molasses
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco hot sauce
  • 12 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 14 tsp. ground cloves


Step 1

To make rub, mix paprika, onion powder, pepper, salt, mustard, celery, and chili powder in a bowl. Rub the mixture all over the ribs. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Step 2

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Puree tomatoes in a blender; strain into a 4-qt. saucepan. Whisk in sugar, honey, vinegar, molasses, lemon juice, brown sugar, Worcestershire, soy sauce, salt, garlic and onion powders, Tabasco, pepper, and cloves, and heat over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Set sauce aside.

Step 3

Prepare your grill using the kettle grill, bullet smoker, or gas grill method, (see links for instructions) using oak wood chunks or chips (see Fuel and Flavor). Place ribs, meat side up, on grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-250° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook, turning once and basting with sauce, occasionally, during the last 45 minutes of cooking, until the tip of a small knife slips easily in and out of the meat, 2–4 hours. Serve with remaining sauce on the side.

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