While I usually use a bbq rub as the base for a properly sauced rack of ribs (like my oven baked ribs with my spicy homemade bbq sauce, sometimes it’s nice to change it up a little and go with just a dry rub and leave it at that. This is a fantastic rub adapted from Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe’s Slow Fire cookbook, which is among the best bbq cookbooks I’ve found. Everything I’ve cooked out of there has been amazing, so I’d highly recommend picking it up. As for these ribs, the rub I use is amazing, but feel free to use your own, or change it up a little. Leave out the coffee, throw in some chipotle chili powder, or cut back on the salt. It’s pretty well rounded as it is, but also open to endless variation. And please, comment and let me know how you change it, and how that works for you.
Start by mixing up the rub. There are no photos here, because I keep a container of this around as a general purpose rub for just about anything bbq. If you really want to make this ribs good, take the spices and toast them in a skillet over low heat and cook them, stirring constantly, until they start to become aromatic, about two to three minutes. Once you have the rub made, reserve a quarter cup of the rub, remove the membrane from the back of the ribs, then spread 2/3 of the remaining rub on the meat side of the ribs, and 1/3 on the bone side. Let the ribs rest in the refrigerator for a half hour, then prepare your grill or smoker for indirect cooking at 235°F, or even your oven at that temperature.
Smoke or cook the ribs for 2 hours, spritzing lightly with apple juice every half hour to keep them moist. After 2 hours, lay each rack on a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Pour 1/4 cup apple juice in with the rack, and seal it up. Seal airtight, but leave a little room on the inside for air and steam to circulate.
Cook them for another 2 hours in the foil, then place the racks back on the bbq, pouring the liquid from the foil packets back over them. Cook them for 15 more minutes, sprinkle the remaining rib rub over them, and cook for another 15 minutes.
Cut each rack into thirds, or individual ribs, and serve.
- 3 racks baby back ribs (about 2 pounds each)
- 1 cup apple juice, divided
- Rib Rub:
- ⅓ c kosher salt
- ¼ c sugar in the raw
- ¼ c light brown sugar
- ⅙ c paprika
- ⅙ c chili powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp tumeric
- ¼ tsp lemon pepper
- ¼ tsp ground coffee
- Mix together rub, toasting spices first for 2-3 minutes over low heat in a dry skillet if desired.
- Peel the membranes off of the backs of the ribs. Reserve ¼ cup spice rub for later use, and spread the remaining rub on the ribs evenly, using ⅔ on the meat side and ⅓ on the bone side. Refrigerate ribs for 30 minutes.
- Prepare smoker or grill on indirect heat for 235°F, or preheat an oven. Cook ribs, bone-side down, for 2 hours, spritzing every 15 minutes with apple juice to keep moist.
- Lay out three double-thick pieces of heavy-duty aluminium foil. Place ribs on foil, pull up the sides so they aren't flat, pour ¼ cup of apple juice in with each rack of ribs, and seal packets airtight, leaving some room inside for air to circulate. Place back on smoker, bbq, or oven for an additional 2 hours.
- Remove racks from foil packets and place back on grill, pouring excess liquid from the foil back over the ribs, and cook for 15 more minutes.
- Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup of rub over all 3 racks evenly and cook 15 minutes more.
- Cut ribs into thirds, or individual ribs, and serve.