Smoky Baby Back Ribs

Prep Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs

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.


  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs (about 2 ½ pounds total)

  • ½ cup packed dark-brown sugar

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

  • ¼ cup Cajun seasoning

  • 3 tablespoons smoked or sweet paprika

  • 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground mustard

  • ¼ cup chili sauce

  • ¼ 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.

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