Barbecued Baby Back Ribs for Charcoal Grill

  • Rating ****

Serves 4

If you have time to make these ahead, for a more potent spice flavor, brine and dry the ribs as directed, then coat them with the spice rub, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight before grilling. You will need two wood chunks, each about the size of a lemon, for this recipe.


  • For the Brine:
  • 1/2 cup table salt or 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 racks baby back ribs (about 2 pounds each), or loin back ribs
  • For the Spice Rub:
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika , plus additional 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper



Dissolve the salt and sugar in 4 quarts cold water in a stockpot or large plastic container. Submerge the ribs in the brine and refrigerate 1 hour until fully seasoned. Remove the ribs from the brine and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.

While the ribs are brining, cover two 3-inch wood chunks with water in a medium bowl; soak the wood chunks for 1 hour, then drain and set aside. Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl. When the ribs are out of the brine and dried, rub each side of the racks with 1 tablespoon spice rub; refrigerate the racks 30 minutes.


Open the bottom vents on the grill. Ignite about

4 1/2 quarts charcoal briquettes (3/4 large chimney-full, or about 65 briquettes) and burn until covered with a thin coating of light gray ash, about 20 minutes. Empty the coals onto one half of the grill bottom, piling them 2 to 3 briquettes high; place the soaked wood chunks on top of the coals. Position the cooking grate over the coals, cover the grill, open the lid vents two-thirds of the way; heat the grate

5 minutes, then scrape clean with a wire brush.

Arrange the ribs on the cool side of the grill parallel to the fire; cover, positioning the lid so that the vents are opposite the wood chunks to draw smoke through the grill (grill temperature should register about 350 degrees F on a grill thermometer, but will soon start dropping). Cook for 2 hours, until the grill temperature drops to about 250 degrees F, flipping the rib racks, switching their position so that rack that was nearest fire is on the outside, and turning the racks 180 degrees every 30 minutes; add 10 fresh briquettes to the pile of coals. Continue to cook (the grill temperature should register 275 to 300 degrees F on a grill thermometer), flipping, switching and rotating the ribs every 30 minutes, until the meat easily pulls away from bone, 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, then cut between the bones to separate the ribs; serve.

Recipe reprinted by permission of America's Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.

RecID 8504

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