Smoky BBQ Ribs

On a wooden table, there is a blue plate with three beef ribs and a square of cornbread. Behind it on the table is a glass of red wine and an Emeritus bottle. In the background there's a charcoal grill and a concrete garden wall and greenery.
Recipe Date: July 12, 2022
Serving Size: 4
Prep Time: 35 Minutes
Cook Time: 180 Minutes
Difficulty: Medium
Measurements: Imperial (US)

PAIR WITH: Wesley’s Reserve

BBQ ribs, aside from being incredibly delicious, make a jaw-dropping presentation. Whatever kind of ribs you like, whether it’s beef or pork, either its great with this recipe. The two best types of beef ribs that make for great barbecue are chuck ribs and plate ribs. Both have excellent marbling intramuscular fat that when cooked properly produce a juicy, decadent, beefy bite. Or, if you prefer pork ribs, spareribs are our recommendation.

The smokiness of the barbecue sauce in this particular recipe is complimented wonderfully by our 2018 Wesley’s Reserve!


  • RIBS
  • -
  • 4 racks of center cut beef ribs or pork spareribs
  • 3 to 4 cups wood chips*
  • 4 cups of savory liquid in a spray bottle**
  • -
  • -
  • 5 tbsp paprika
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 3 tbsp dry mustard
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1-2 tbsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • -
  • -
  • 4 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup onion, grated
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke, optional
  • 2 tsp green bell pepper, grated
  • ⅓ cup bacon bits, ground in a spice grinder


Dry Rub
  1. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container—it will keep indefinitely, or until you use all of it. Makes about 1⅔ cups. 
  2. Keep some in a shaker next to the smoker, grill, or stove while cooking.
Barbecue Sauce
  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until it froths (or heat vegetable oil until hot), then add the grated onion.
  2. Sprinkle a little salt over the onion and sauté until the onion just begins to color, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, garlic powder, smoked paprika, ground cloves, salt, and liquid smoke (if using). 
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
  5. Stir in the grated bell pepper and bacon bits and reduce the heat. 
  6. Simmer uncovered, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly. 
  7. Allow the sauce to cool. 
  8. If storing until you need it, pour the sauce into sterilized glass bottles (i.e. a mayo or peanut butter jar, or a juice bottle, run through the dishwasher.) Can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 2½ cups.
  1. Get your fire started, so it can come to temperature (275° F) while preparing the meat. 
  2. Prep the meat. 
    • The easiest way to remove the skin-like membrane on the back of the ribs is to start in the middle of the rack and work a table knife underneath it, going all the way across and teasing it up. 
    • Slide your forefinger in under the membrane and bring your thumb across, holding the rib down and pulling the membrane straight up. It should peel off from the middle.
  3. Sprinkle ribs liberally with the dry rub, coating both sides. Put them in a shallow pan or on a cookie sheet, cover with clear plastic wrap or a lid, and refrigerate until ready to use them. 
    • Be sure not to dump the entire rub on at once. Too much rub will overpower the finished ribs.
    • Ideally, let the ribs sit for at least 1 hour.
    • You can also do this prep up to a day in advance.
  4. Once you start cooking the ribs, you can’t leave the pit or grill unattended for any more than about 20 minutes, continually checking that the temperature remains between 250° and 275° F at all times in the grill. 
    • If it gets too hot, shut the top and bottom drafts to smother the fire. 
    • If some of the coals appear to be glowing red, that will cause a hot spot. Don’t cook the ribs directly over the hot spot, move them to a different, cooler, part of the grill. 
    • If the temperature dips too low, move the ribs to a hot spot for a while and add some hot coals.
  5. Place ribs on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 hours. 
    • Don’t check them too often, as this will cause temperature swings and increase the cook time. 
  6. Start spritzing the ribs with your spray bottle of savory liquid about 1 hour into smoking. From there, spritz every 30 minutes.
    • Between the salt and sugar in the spice rub, the moisture of the meat and the spritzing, and smoke from the wood chips, the ribs will develop a bark as it cooks over low temperatures. 
    • Spritzing the meat will slow down the cooking process, but give you more time to build up the bark. This is the most efficient way to add moisture while cooking without rinsing off your dry rub. It also makes it easier for the smoke to stick. 
  7. Once your meat thermometer starts showing 195° F, start paying attention. They’ll be done when the ribs become tender and the thermometer probe slides in like butter (usually around 200° to 205° F). 
  8. About 10 minutes before you remove the ribs from the grill, mop them with barbecue sauce. 
  9. When you take them off the grill, mop again with barbecue sauce and sprinkle some more dry rub on them. 
  10. Let the meat rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour, then slice up and serve! 
    • Feeds 4 very hungry people or you can cut the rack in half to serve 6 to 8 people who have a regular appetite.

* For wood chips you can use hickory, pecan, sweet maple, or cherry; apple for a bit more sweetness to your smoke. 

** If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can use a bowl and brush. However, a spray bottle is the best way to add moisture to the ribs while cooking without removing any of the dry rub when applying. 

  • Use apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, balsamic vinegar, or any other delicious savory sauce you can mix together to make a flavor you’ll enjoy
  • Nothing high in sugar, as that will have a higher chance of burning. 
  • Nothing with chunks or pulp (if using a spray bottle).