Tuffy Stone’s Competition Ribs

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


George “Tuffy” Stone of A Sharper Palate catering in Richmond, Virgina, developed this recipe for ribs using his 3-2-1 method: cooking for three hours unwrapped, two hours wrapped in foil, and another one unwrapped. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2011 BBQ issue along with Dana Bowen’s story The Winner’s Circle.

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What You Will Need


For the Rub and Ribs

  • 12 cup light brown sugar
  • 14 cup sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 14 cup canola oil
  • 2 racks St. Louis-cut pork spareribs (about 3 lb. each)

For the Sauce

  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 34 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 12 tsp. cayenne
  • 12 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 12 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 12 cup apple juice
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 14 cup light brown sugar


Step 1

Make the rub: Mix sugar, paprika, chili, onion and garlic powders, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Brush oil on ribs on baking sheet and sprinkle with rub; let sit 1 hour.

Step 2

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Whisk together ketchup, sugar, vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire, chili powder, paprika, onion and garlic powders, cayenne, pepper, and 3⁄4 cup water in a 4-qt. saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook, stirring, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, measure 1 cup into a bowl, and stir in 1⁄4 cup honey and the apple cider vinegar; set aside. (Reserve remaining sauce for another use.) Pour apple juice into a spray bottle; set aside.

Step 3

Prepare your grill using the kettle grill, bullet smoker, or gas grill method, (see links for instructions) using apple wood chunks or chips (see Fuel and Flavor). Place ribs, meat side up, on grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-275° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook, spraying with juice every 30 minutes, for 3 hours. Remove ribs from grill; transfer to 2 large stacked sheets of foil. Drizzle butter, honey, and sugar evenly over both sides of ribs; position ribs meat side up and close foil around ribs. Return to grill and cook for 2 hours. Uncover ribs and discard foil. Return ribs to grill and cook, basting with sauce after 30 minutes, until the tip of a small knife slips easily in and out of the meat, about 1 hour. Serve with remaining sauce.

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