Molasses-Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Tim Byres has a no-fail method for ribs: He rubs them with a seasoned beer-based mop and cooks them in a foil packet for almost an hour to keep them moist before smoking them over wood. Slideshow: Amazing Ideas for Ribs 

Molasses-Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Photo: © Marcus Nilsson
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins



  • One 12-ounce bottle lager

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 cup unsulfured molasses

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar

  • 1/4 cup Creole or brown Mustard

  • 1/4 cup chile powder

  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Pinch of ground allspice


  • Two 3-pound racks baby back ribs—membranes removed, racks halved

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 3 cups hardwood chips, such as hickory or applewood, soaked in water for 1 hour and drained


make the mop

  1. Light a grill. In a large bowl, combine all of the mop ingredients and whisk until smooth.

prepare the ribs

  1. Season the ribs all over with salt and pepper. Layer two 18-inch sheets of foil on a work surface and set a half rack of ribs in the center; pull the edges of foil up around the ribs. Spoon 3/4 cup of the mop over the rack and seal tightly in the foil. Repeat with the remaining 3 racks. Grill the rib packets over moderate heat, covered, for 45 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the rib packets to a baking sheet and let cool slightly.

  2. Meanwhile, transfer the remaining mop to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1 cup, 12 to 15 minutes; let cool completely.

  3. Wrap the wood chips in a double layer of foil and poke holes in the top of the packet. Remove the grill grate. Turn the heat off on half of the grill or rake the coals to one side. Set the wood chip packet directly on the flames or on the coals and replace the grill grate. When the chips are smoking, carefully open the rib packets and arrange the racks on the grill over indirect heat. Discard the foil and juices. Cover the grill and smoke the ribs until the meat is very tender, 1 hour. Brush the ribs with the reduced mop, transfer to a platter and serve.

Make Ahead

The finished ribs can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Suggested Pairing

Little goes better with sweet, sticky, smoky ribs than a refreshing beer. Try these with a crisp Lone Star lager (from one of Texas’s largest breweries) or Le Petit Prince, a farmhouse-style ale from craft brewer Jester King in Austin.

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