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Smoky Baby Back Ribs

Smoky, sticky, falling-off-the-bone ribs are easier than you think. 

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6
Smoky Baby Back Ribs

Source: Everyday Food, July/August 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
  • Chipotle Sauce (see Cook's Notes)


  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. To cook on the grill, set up grill for indirect cooking: arrange heat source (charcoal or gas) on one side of grill and heat to medium-high.

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Remove ribs from oven. Heat broiler. Unwrap ribs, place on sheet, and brush with Chipotle Sauce.

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

Cook's Note

Chipotle Sauce
Stir together 1 cup chili sauce, 1/4 cup chopped chipotle chiles in adobo, and 2 tablespoons honey.

Reviews (15)

  • 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?

  • kasiek83 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.

  • pattipoopidoo 27 Jun, 2013

    200 degrees as is in the video, or 300 degrees as is in the recipe? Baby backs are EXPENSIVE, and 100 degree difference for 2 1/2 hours can make or break the recipe! I LOVE you, EDF, but this is a big mistake!

  • Adamsense 27 Jun, 2013

    Oven temp in the video is 200 degrees, but in the recipe directions it says 300... which one is it?

  • lunamother 19 Apr, 2013

    I'm not a big meat eater (too dry, too flavorless, too much of a hassle). This, being none of those things, is the best meat I have ever eaten.

    Made it for Father's Day with roasted asparagus and a potato salad. I used one big slab of spare ribs and used the oven method.

    I did reduce the salt in the rub to 1 T (and would use a scant T in the future), as I used most of it at once. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly, and it was amazing.

  • Kathymt16 5 Aug, 2012

    This was the BEST rib recipe we have ever tried! The ribs were so tender, they reminded us of our favorite southern restaurant! YUMMMMY!

  • AmyEHull 2 Jul, 2012

    I've never made ribs before and decided to try this recipe. OMG!! It's FABULOUS!! Just the right amount of heat -- and it was very easy to make. (You must need to allow the advanced time to slow cook the ribs.) I made them as part of a birthday dinner...and everyone thought they were the best ribs they ever had!

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