Spicy and Sticky Baby Back Ribs


Chef Way To create the flavorings for these ribs, Donald Link combines eight spices for a rub and prepares a barbecue sauce with homemade pork stock.Easy Way Cut back the number of spices in the rub to the five essentials, and use canned beef broth in the barbecue sauce.

Spicy and Sticky Baby Back Ribs
Photo: © Quentin Bacon
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs
6 to 8 servings


  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard

  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika

  • 4 racks baby back ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds each), membrane removed from the underside of each rack

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 small onion, minced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1 cup cider vinegar

  • 1 cup beef broth

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce

  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses


  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, mustard, fennel, black pepper, cayenne and paprika. On 2 large rimmed baking sheets, sprinkle the spice mix all over the ribs, pressing and patting it. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 250°. Pour off any liquid on the baking sheets, cover the ribs with foil and roast for about 3 hours, until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone. Pour off any liquid on the baking sheets.

  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, beef broth, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and molasses and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes.

  4. Preheat the broiler and position a rack 10 inches from the heat. Brush the ribs liberally with the barbecue sauce and broil for about 10 minutes, turning and brushing occasionally with the sauce, until well-browned and crispy in spots. Transfer the ribs to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut in between the bones and mound the ribs on a platter. Pass any extra barbecue sauce on the side.

Make Ahead

The roasted ribs and barbecue sauce can be refrigerated separately for up to 4 days. Return to room temperature and broil just before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Juicy, berry-rich Zinfandel.

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