Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

Enjoy delicious Baby Back Ribs with two sauces; both of them are amazing on our favorite ribs made on the grill in a roasting pan.

Barbecue Ribs with Two Sauces

I sat pitting a couple of pounds of cherries and started thinking about what I would use them for and Barbecued Baby Back Ribs came to mind. As I contemplated what I use make with those sweet, gorgeous burgundy orbs I knew it would need some heat and what better than Chipotle peppers with their smoky, fiery combination?


But I also love a delicious bourbon based sauce so had a quandry and then…why not both? Time for a barbecue ribs throwdown! Both were really fabulous barbecue sauces so this is not just a recipe for a sauce, nope it’s Barbecued Baby Back Ribs with Two Sauces!

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I’ve been using a grill for a long time; first helping my Dad as a kid and for many years perfecting a lot of dishes outdoors. I’ve even cooked a turkey at Thanksgiving on my grill. But I had been slow to come to ribs; guessing because there is such a fanaticism about them that I hesitated to even try as I was sure the difficulty factor was huge and that was not what I wanted for a summer barbecue experience.

So when I finally decided to take the plunge it was prophetic that the fellow next to me at the Costco meat counter was a great resource because the results were outstanding. His method called for a dry rub and putting some form of liquid in the bottom of a roasting pan and I liked that and started to think about what I would use that would be complimentary to a great sauce. And therein as they say…was the rub (and I’m not talking the dry rub!).

We enjoyed the barbecued ribs so much that I made them a couple of times that summer but the one thing that never quite seemed to measure up? The sauce. I asked for suggestions on Twitter, got a ready made recommendation filled with corn syrup and one recipe that was OK but just never really found that perfect blend of ingredients that satisfied my quest for the perfect sauce (well at least perfect for me!)

I decided it was finally time to throw recipes to the wind and do my own thing; inspired mostly by wanting to make a bourbon concoction with some maple syrup and mustard. Now a second recipe combining fresh cherries and chipotle peppers was planned and we were off to the races.

To make it fun, I asked some neighbors to join me for dinner so we could come to a consensus about which sauce was better, the Bourbon Maple or the Cherry Chipotle?

Cilantro Serrano Rice
Cilantro Serrano Mexican Rice

Truth is…after polling which ones they loved the best, everyone concurred a favorite they all agreed on…my Cilantro Serrano Mexican Rice! It is the perfect accompaniment and you should try it too; this is the most surprising dish I have ever made. Simple ingredients, not hard to put together and yet the final dish is hard to describe but it is hard to stop eating too. Don’t let the serrano chile fool you; it adds a definite flavor boost but nothing about this rice is really hot, it’s just really, really good; perfect with the ribs

Back to the ribs! The overwhelming preference was the Cherry Chipotle barbecue sauce and I admit some surprise because boozy sauces are always so popular but it seems that bit of heat (which I thought could be more) was the kicker. The next day, I fiddled with the Bourbon Maple a bit and wish my testers had been around to try again..yes cumin and liquid smoke DID make a difference. A 2nd chipotle pepper for the cherry version did the trick too; now I had two sauces I loved. I mean LOVED!

Seems the cut of meat was equally outstanding as some guests complimented on how much meat was on the bone (thank you Costco!) and bottom line I heard that they were some of the best ribs they had ever eaten. What could be more perfect than that except maybe to also enjoy these ribs with the aforementioned rice and a Watermelon Margarita? 😉

Barbecue Ribs with Two Sauces

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

Two different sauces and both of them are amazing on barbecued baby back ribs.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Beef, Bourbon, Fruits
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 429 kcal


  • 6-8 pounds baby back ribs

Ingredients for the Dry Rub

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon tarragon
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

Ingredients for the Bourbon Maple Barbecue Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil combined with 2 Tbsp
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped or put through a garlic press
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Couple of dashes of hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  • ½ to 1 cup bourbon duh, yeah I used a cup!

Ingredients for the Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup cherry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 chipotle chiles in adobo plus 1 tablespoon of sauce I liked it better with 2 chiles; your choice
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


To Make the Bourbon Maple Barbecue Sauce

  • Saute onion in combination of oil and butter til tender.
  • Add garlic and saute for two minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook down til deep in color and thickened, 25-30 minutes.
  • Using a food processor, blender or stick blender, blend all ingredients until just smooth; I like it just a little bit chunky.

To Make the Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

  • Bring ketchup, cherry preserves, lemon juice, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon peel, chiles, adobo sauce, liquid smoke, onion powder, and cocoa powder to simmer in medium saucepan, stirring often.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

To Make the Ribs

  • Pat ribs and rub dry mixture all over. Place in ovenproof dish (I used my turkey roaster; held three racks).
  • Fill bottom of roaster with 1 cup of your favorite bourbon whiskey or beer with equal amount of water and 10-15 dashes of Liquid Smoke. Check occasionally; you always want some liquid in the bottom of the roaster.
  • Cover tightly with foil and cook using ambient heat. Turn two burners on and place the roasting pan on top of the two burners that are off. One word of warning…the temperature control on my grill indicated 250 but wasn’t accurate for the temp inside the pan so I had to turn up the degrees to get the meat cooking so be sure to check the internal temp of your grill. You want it to cook slow but still needs to be 200-250 degrees inside the grill.
  • Cook for two hours, changing the direction of the pan occasionally to insure even heating and re-arranging the meat at least once to insure even cooking.
  • Remove ribs from pan, empty pan juices, cut ribs into serving portions and cover with sauce. Cover pan and cook for an additional 30-60 minutes. I configured two separate chambers from heavy duty aluminum foil so I could keep all the ribs in one pan.


My personal preference is to not put the meat directly on the grill and char; the meat is moist and tender and not dried out like so many ribs I’ve eaten. If you want a bit of char; I would suggest you remove from the roaster and cook on each side for 5-7 minutes just to get some burn marks. Whichever method you prefer; serve by cutting into serving portions and pass the extra sauce.
You can also make these in the oven set to low heat.
Sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate


Nutrition Facts
Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
Serving Size
1 Serving
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword baby back ribs, barbecue, bourbon, cherry, chipotle
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  1. Wow, Barbara! This looks fantastic. Great photos, tool I have ribs in my freezer waiting for my son’s visit next month. This will be perfect! Thanks, 🙂

  2. I have been following you for some time now and of course all that you post looks wonderful. However I appreciate the attention to detail that goes into each recipe that you share. The BBQ sauce looks like a wonderful one to keep on hand.

    1. Melynda…thank you so much, your kind words make this effort all the more worthwhile; they are much appreciated!

  3. An oldie but goodie! I love the combo of cherries and chipotle — so amazing. And I love ribs on the grill. I’ve done turkey on the grill several times, and have been thinking of doing one again soon. Just because I like turkey. And my grill. 😉 Anyway, thanks for this.

    1. I like turkey too John…and my grill. 🙂 I made this sauce again today and was reminded of why we loved it so much. Chicken tomorrow!

  4. Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce?! That sounds so good! I was complaining that ribs are not photogenic but I guess I’m just not as talented as you [yet :D] I’ve been playing with my dSLR but I’m still taking my blog pics with the iPhone. Baby steps, right?

    1. That was my third attempt and even today I would do it differently. But, yes…one day a step up from the iPhone will make a huge difference. And thank you…those are amazing. Have ribs in freezer…thinking time to thaw them is NOW!!

  5. You are too funny!! Rice always wins in my house, but my dad would go for the ribs and probably the bourbon sauce. I’m a kook no ribs for me. I know, I know…shoot me later please 🙂

  6. That would be a tough call between those two recipes, but I would probably go with the Bourbon sauce (although I like the heat in the Cherry sauce)! We haven’t had ribs in awhile, so I think they could be in my grilling future after seeing yours. 🙂

    1. I expected to love the Bourbon sauce the best; expected others to as well…but it was just a bit too sweet maybe. It was amazing how the addition of cumin enhanced the other flavors and brightened it up. I could have eaten it with a spoon. I did.

  7. Sauces look outstanding! Question — Can the ribs just be baked in a 250 – degree oven for 2 hours instead of on the grill?

    1. Absolutely…and I think I’ll actually revise the post to say that since they’re never really on the grill…I like it for keeping the house cool but would bake them in the winter and have! Since the heat is more controlled; 2 hours would probably do it, maybe 2.5.

  8. Yuh know, ribs are a ‘thing’ at our house – and we’ve tested many a sauce recipe before The Professor found one he deemed ‘perfect’. Now here you are with a throwdown . . . I guess it’s off to the butcher shop for more ribs . . . seriously Barb, you are not good for my butt or my waistline . . .

  9. Damn woman! You had me with Bourbon and Cherries in the sauces. And that rice rocks. I noticed you wrote about it before and thought it was a great recipe.

    1. I think the bourbon maple sauce would go well on ice cream, much less salmon!

      OK, really…can’t imagine it wouldn’t be great; has all those components salmon loves…sugar, mustard but just kicked up a notch (Hello Emeril!).

  10. I adore Costco! Every time I’ve purchased meat from them I’ve been very happy. I’m going to try your rib recipe this week – I just can’t decide which version to try! I’ll let you know how it goes!

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