Apple-Glazed BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Got this from a "recipe of the day" email that I usually don't trust at all but I thought it sounded really good and I've always wanted a good "ribs" recipe. I've cooked them several times now and they're fabulous.

These are the notes that came with the recipe: These sticky, apple-scented ribs are cooked in the oven then finished on the grill. They're a simpler version of a recipe by champion pit master Chris Lilly, author of the new Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, who cooks his entirely on the grill. To follow Lilly's example, use a thermometer to keep the grill at a steady 250deg and wrap tthe ribs in foil after adding the apple cider mixture.


1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons garlic salt
4 teaspoons pure ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup apple jelly, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 racks baby back ribs (about 4 pounds total)
1 cup BBQ sauce


Preheat the oven to 250° (note to self - use downstairs oven). In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the sugar with the garlic salt, chile powder, salt, black pepper, celery salt, cayenne, cinnamon and white pepper. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the spice mix to a medium bowl and whisk in the cider, apple jelly, honey and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.

Pull the membrane off the underside of each rib rack using a towel to grasp the corner. On a rimmed baking sheet, rub the ribs with the remaining spice mix; bake, meaty side up, for 2 1/2 hours.

If you're using the BBQ sauce recipe, START MAKING IT BEFORE THE FINAL HOUR OF BAKING.

After 2-1/2 hours, pour the cider mixture over the ribs and turn to coat. Tightly cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Light a grill. Uncover the ribs and brush with the barbecue sauce; grill over moderate heat, turning and brushing, until glazed, 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then cut between the bones and serve.


1) I've bought ribs at Sam's Club and Hy-Vee. The Sam's Club were much larger. They both worked but would probably prefer the Hy-Vee style.
2) The BBQ sauce recipe I found on Cook's Illustrated website. When I make it, I cook the sauce down until it's fairly thick. Then I use some of the degreased pan drippings from the ribs to thin it out again, which adds more flavor. That BBQ sauce recipe is really pretty good.
3) I found pure ancho chili powder and white pepper at Penzey's Spice Store, but didn't have a separate grinder for the white pepper so I used extra black. Whatever. Apple jelly is hard to find. Sometimes apple cider is too, but apple juice seems to work fine.
4) I baked these in the oven as directed and finished on my rangetop grill, one rack at a time. The directions call for grilling about 15 minutes. However, even at the lowest grill setting they end up getting pretty close to blackened after about 9 minutes. I now cook them at the lowest setting for four or five minutes. I suspect they could be broiled under the broiler instead of grilled.
5) I've learned to use heavy-duty foil and wrap the foil really tightly over the pan after adding the cider mixture. This makes them extraordinarily tender, in fact you can't really eat the ribs with your hands (when you pick up a rib the meat literally falls off the bone). They're also a little difficult to flip on the grill since they tend to fall apart. Technically they're probably too tender; it's my understanding that real pitmasters want a little more "chew" on the meat.
6) This makes a lot of ribs, good for four meals for me.
7) I tried this once using raspberry/apple juice from a prepared concentrate and raspberry jam instead of the apple. The apple works better.

These are so bizarrely delicious that I have a tendency to laugh while I'm eating them because I can't believe how good they are.