Grilled Ribs with Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 190 minutes
Servings: 6

Baby back ribs benefit from both low and slow cooking in the oven and from grilling, which imparts smoky flavor. Here we do both for the best of both worlds. An added bonus? You can cook the ribs in the oven well in advance of serving, then quickly grill them after your guests arrive. For even smokier flavor, you can use the smoking box of your barbecue grill.


For the rub:

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

  • 2 racks baby back ribs, about 5 lb. (2.5 kg) total

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) ketchup
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) apple cider
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Large pinch of kosher salt


Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

To make the rub, in a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, chili powder, salt and paprika.

Place the ribs on the prepared baking sheet and spread the rub evenly over both sides of the ribs. Transfer the ribs to the oven and cook, turning the ribs every hour, until the meat starts to pull away from the bones, about 3 hours. Remove the ribs from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. At this point the ribs can be finished on the grill or refrigerated up to overnight, if desired. If refrigerated, remove from the ribs from the refrigerator about 1 hour before grilling to allow them to come to room temperature.  

To make the barbecue sauce, in a saucepan combine the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider, soy sauce, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer the sauce until reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill. Place a steel grill roaster in the center of the grill, cover the grill and preheat for 5 minutes.

Working in batches if necessary, place the ribs, meaty side down, on the grill pan and cook just until the fat starts to sizzle, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the ribs over and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and baste with barbecue sauce. Cut between the ribs to separate them and serve hot with the remaining barbecue sauce alongside. Serves 6.

Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen

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