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Smoky Baby Back Ribs


Smoky, sticky, falling-off-the-bone ribs are easier than you think. Just cook them long and slow -- on the grill or in the oven.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

Source: Everyday Food, July/August 2012


  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Cajun seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. Prep the ribs: Depending on how the butcher has trimmed the ribs, there may be a tough, rubbery membrane on the underside. If so, score meat between bones (being careful not to cut the meat) and pull membrane away.

  2. Combine brown sugar, 1/3 cup salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper, Cajun seasoning, paprika, cayenne, and ground mustard. Reserve half the rub for later use (store in an airtight container, up to a month). Working with 1 rack at a time, lay a large piece of parchment-lined foil on a work surface, place rack on parchment, and liberally coat both sides with rub.

  3. Fold foil and parchment around ribs, crimping the edges together to form a packet.

Make the sauce

  1. Stir together chili sauce, chipotle chiles, and honey.

Cook on the grill

  1. Set up grill for indirect cooking: arrange heat source (charcoal or gas) on one side of grill and heat to medium-high.

  2. Place rib packets on cooler side of grill, standing them upright on long sides. Cover grill and cook until a knife can pierce meat with no resistance, about 2 1/2 hours (if using a charcoal grill, add a couple handfuls of coals every half hour to maintain 300 degrees).

  3. Remove ribs from grill, unwrap, and brush with chipotle sauce. If using a charcoal grill, lift grate to carefully spread out hot coals. On a gas grill, place ribs directly over heat source. Grill until sauce is bubbling and ribs are lightly charred, 2 minutes per side, brushing with more sauce if desired.

Cook in the oven

  1. To cook in the oven, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place rib packets on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until a knife can pierce meat with no resistance, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

  2. Remove ribs from oven. Heat broiler. Unwrap ribs, place on sheet, and brush with chipotle sauce.

  3. Broil until sauce is bubbling and ribs are lightly charred, about 5 minutes, brushing with more sauce if desired.

Cook's Notes

This recipe makes a double batch of the spice rub. Use the extra to season chicken, pork, or steak before grilling. The homemade sauce gets its smokiness from chipotle chiles in adobo; look for them in the international aisle.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Clarita60
    10 JUL, 2014
    Made them for the first time ever, and got rave reviews!!! awesome, soft and very tasty!! Thanks!
  • SumerJ
    26 MAY, 2014
    Yum! Everyone raved, best ribs ever! I was worried they would be too spicy but they were perfect. I did not add the 1/3 cup salt as my cajun spice main ingredient was salt. I cooked the ribs at 300 then put on the grill at the end. So easy!
  • dbigley
    18 MAY, 2014
    I'm still confused. the video says 200 degrees the recipe 300 degrees, and 1/3 cup salt? That has to be way to much salt, especially in a reduced sodium world. Please clarify. ( i know you rarely do, but it would really help)
  • Janicemom
    17 MAY, 2014
    I was wondering if this can be made in a slow cooker. If so, how would you adjust the recipe?
  • MS10940915
    16 FEB, 2014
    Was very delicious but not falling off the bone or soft .... What did I do wrong? 300 degrees for 3 hrs... In the foil pocket... No rest time after baking... Please help me fix.. I'd like to experience the soft ribs we expected..
  • Mrs Levine
    7 JUL, 2013
    This was my first time EVER cooking baby back ribs. They were perfect. I used organic ribs, made the rub exactly as the recipe stated, baked them at 300 for 2 hr., and then let them rest for 1 hr. Once the in-laws arrived, I glazed them - used only chili sauce and honey - and 15 minutes later, they were warm, sweet with a little kick, and just finger-licking good!
  • smllkw
    5 JUL, 2013
    I never saw a response to the oven temperature (is it a 200 or 300 degree oven??), so I cooked in a 250 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours and they were perfect. The meat just fell off the bone. I am making another batch as I type. I didn't have the chili sauce for the first batch, so I substituted ketchup and BBQ sauce. Today's batch will have the chili sauce. I look forward to Sarah's daily emails, she has elevated my cooking significantly:o)
  • Christian UK
    4 JUL, 2013
    I agree that these were brilliant but salty - I cut down the salt. I also realised my Cajun seasoning had salt in as well ! Other than that these work with any ribs, baby back or otherwise.
  • SpierBodette
    30 JUN, 2013
    I made this last night and both my husband and I found it WAY too salty! I did not read the reviews until this morning and I regret it. I will probably not use salt the next time.... Otherwise, the Chipotle BBQ sauce was awesome - and loved the fact that this I'd not create a huge mess!
  • Stephen Donohue
    29 JUN, 2013
    This recipe was a giant waste of a good rack of ribs. The addition of the 1/3 cup of salt in Step 3 made the ribs too salty to eat. We threw most of the rack out as unsalvageable. There is salt in recipe we used for the Cajun seasoning and we even cut that in half from two teaspoons to one. There is no excuse for this.