My Super Maple BBQ Rib Recipe

Want to wow your friends on Sunday?  I did a practice run of ribs and pork loin over the weekend and they came out delicious.  I've perfected my slow recipe over the past few years, so I thought I'd share it so you can be a hero at your party for the big game on Sunday.  In winter I usually add a maple touch to the sauce, but that is optional.  I usually cook them on the grill, but did this batch in the oven.  Either way, they come out delicious and tender! By the way - This is not a smokey recipe.  If you like lots of smoke, this won't do it, but they are very tasty.  If you use this recipe, please drop me a note at and let me know how they come out.  Enjoy!! 

  • Meat:  Baby Back Ribs (You can also use St. Louis ribs, but you'll need to cook those about 30-45 minutes longer since they are bigger.)
  • Be sure to remove membrane from the rib side of the rack.  I sometimes have the butcher do it to save me the trouble.     
  • Trim large fat sections from the rack.  Don't overdo it.  The fat adds flavor.  I only trim off fat that is more than 1/2" thick.
  • Marinade:  Try to marinade overnight, but if you only have a few hours, that's fine too.  Place ribs meat side down in a glass baking dish and cover.  Add about 1 cup of marinade:
    • 1/2 cup  Orange Juice
    • 1-2 oz bourbon (optional)
    • 2 oz apple cider vinegar   
    • 3-4 squeezes of lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon of sugar
    • 1-2 pressed garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon of minced garlic)
    • Cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours 
    • (fyi - The marinade won't taste great by itself, so don't worry about that.  Part of the role of marinade is to tenderize the meat, and the acidity of some of the ingredients does that.) 
  • Dry Rub:  When you're almost ready to cook, drain the marinade and dry the ribs with a paper towel.  Let sit 30 minutes to take the chill off.  Add the dry rub and let sit for another 30-40 minutes before cooking.  
    • The goal here is to get a nice salty/sweet combination with some complexity added by the other spices.      
    • Rub ingredients into all sides of the ribs.  Use a glove or plastic baggie on your hand to avoid getting the smell into your skin.   
    • 2 TBLSPN kosher salt
    • 2 TBLSPN brown sugar
    • 1 TBLSPN onion Powder
    • 1 TSPN garlic powder
    • 1 TSPN black pepper
    • 1 TSPN white sugar
    • 1 TSPN cumin
    • 1 TSPN paprika
    • 1 TSPN smokey BBQ rub (any brand is fine but I used McCormick's this time) 
    • 1/2 TSPN salt
  • Cooking
    • Do not add any bbq sauce yet!
    • Preheat oven to 235 degrees.  
    • Place ribs on rack, with rib side down.  Cover with foil.
    • Cook for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Meat should be about 160 degrees,  (Don't open the oven to check them more than once.  That will throw off your cook time.)  
    • Uncover and add BBQ sauce (see below).  brush sauce liberally on all sides.  
    • Turn heat up to 265 degrees and cook uncovered for 30-40 more minutes.  
    • After you take them out of the oven, let the ribs sit for 5-10 minutes under foil before slicing. (If you slice them right away, you'll lose some juiciness.)
  • BBQ Sauce
    • Honestly, the sauce is NOT the most important part of ribs as some people think.  The marinade and rub are much more vital, as they actually impact the flavor of the meat.  A good sauce can't improve lousy ribs and a mediocre sauce won't ruin ribs that are well prepared.  With that said...
    • I admit...I use commercial bbq sauce.  That is partly out of laziness, but I like Sweet Baby Ray's so I usually use that.  You can experiment with different sauces, or even make your own, but keep in mind that the meat prep is more important than the sauce.
    • Have some sauce available to bush on while eating in case anyone wants more sauce. 
  • For Maple Flavor:
    • Mix 2 oz. of real maple syrup into 4 oz. of bbq sauce in a bowl before brushing it on.    

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Bill George

Bill George

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