Bourbon Baby Back Ribs

When do you bust out the grill for seasonal cooking? Or are you one of the lucky ones that have the ability to grill all year round? It seems like Memorial Day weekend is the time to unofficially grill to our hearts content. This year was no exception and I kicked off the grill season with these Bourbon Baby Back Ribs. Baby back ribs are rubbed with a combination of spices for the meat to absorb before slow cooking until tender. Just before serving, these baby backs are brushed with a bourbon bbq sauce and grilled to perfection. They're a little sweet and smoky... and finger lickin' good!

I'm looking forward to a summer full of BBQ ribs. I'm not sure if it's the juicy and flavorful meat, the finger licking good sauces, or just the pleasure of eating them with my hands... but it's fun and casual, just the way I like my meals. What I really like about this recipe is that it can be made in advance and in steps. The ribs are rubbed with the spices and chilled - overnight is best to give the ribs a chance to take in all the spices. Making the rub takes only minutes too. Then the foil wrapped ribs are placed in a slow cooker - from fridge to cooker, how easy is that? Cover and let them do their thing for a few hours. And just before the guests arrive, heat up the grill and throw the ribs on to get them nice and caramelized with the bourbon bbq sauce (which you can also make in advance and keep in the fridge until ready to use.). Who said making BBQ ribs had to time consuming or hard?! I served this with a summer salad and mashed sweet potatoes. Delicious...

Bourbon Baby Back Ribs
recipe adapted from  Dave Lieberman & Cook's Illustrated (rub recipe)
2 racks baby back ribs (about 4 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 recipe Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows

Cut the racks of ribs in half crosswise. Combine spice rub ingredients in small bowl. Rub each side of racks with 1 tablespoon spice rub; wrap the ribs in foil and refrigerate racks 30 minutes up to overnight.

Place the foil wrapped ribs in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, just until the meat begins to pull away from the ends of the bones and the ribs are just tender. You can slow cook the ribs up to a day before and keep them refrigerated. Bring refrigerated ribs to room temperature about 1 hour before you grill them.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Grill the ribs, brushing them with about half the sauce, until they're crispy and heated through, about 10 minutes. Move the ribs around as they grill, the sugar in barbecue sauce makes it easy for them to burn. Let the ribs rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting them into 1 or 2-bone pieces. Put out the rest of the sauce for dipping or brush it over the ribs.

Bourbon Barbeque Sauce:
1/2 cup steak sauce
1/2 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon regular or grainy Dijon mustard
2 pinches red pepper flakes
Kosher salt

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups


  1. it look like pav baaji ( North Indian Dish)...!!! But i hope taste is not like that will differ :)

  2. Not sure if I am fortunate or not, but i do grill and smoke all year... pretty much 20 degrees is my cut off. My wife has funny shots of me standing knees deep in snow waiting for the right grill marks on my steak. It's an addiction. I just made a bourbon sauce for some grilled chicken wings... should have thought to save some for ribs. Looks great as always and they sound delicious!