These Sweet Chili Glazed Baby Back Ribs are part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Farmland/Smithfield, but all my opinions are my own.
Ah, this is why I love upstate New York! The weather. We’ve finally escaped from the seemingly endless winter, and I couldn’t be more excited to finally spend time outside again! The apple trees in the back of my yard have bloomed. My wife and I even planted our garden this past weekend. (Although we promptly had a frost warning that same night. Frost warning…seriously? It’s mid-May!) We were sitting out on the back porch one night last week chatting about all of the delicious ideas we have for the grill this summer. Then my wife pointed out that Memorial Day Weekend is almost here, and she’d love to grill up some baby back ribs for the official start of summer. She didn’t need to ask me twice!
When it comes to grilling and/or smoking, I’m pretty much always in the mood to get out there on the back deck and cook up something tasty! From pizzas and flatbreads to burgers to simple grilled veggies, our grill gets a workout during the summer. That’s ok because it gets a 6-month break during the winter. There’s even a nice blanket of snow to keep it insulated!
But back to the ribs! I swung by Walmart and picked up a rack of Farmland/Smithfield Baby Back Ribs. The only thing left was to figure out what sort of spice rub and glaze to use on these bad boys. I’m always a fan of the classic BBQ sauce approach, but I wanted to mix it up a bit this time. I decided to go sweet + spicy. Just stop and think about this for a moment. Baby back ribs lightly rubbed with a spice blend and then cooked low-and-slow for several hours. Brush on a nice and simple Sweet Chili Glaze at the end and let the sugars caramelize on the ribs. Ok, just typing that made my mouth water! Seriously, though, these Sweet Chili Glazed Baby Back Ribs are absolutely delicious!
If the thought of grilling ribs at home sounds a bit daunting at first, don’t worry! I’ll admit that I was a bit intimidated the first time I made a rack of ribs on my smoker. Aside from a little bit of prep work, it’s one of the easiest things to make on the grill! I’ve included a couple of my favorite tips and tricks for ribs below:
- Indirect Grilling. The secret to making amazing ribs is grilling them “low-and-slow”…as in low temperature for a long time. Since they’ll be on the grill for a few hours, you can’t just throw them over a direct flame. Instead, set up your grill for indirect cooking. If you’re using a gas grill, just turn on a single burner on one side of the grill. If using charcoal, use several cups of lit coals and then pour several more cups of unlit coals on top. Then set all of these coals up on one side of the grill. Then just grill the ribs on the opposite side from the lit burner or coals. If you happen to have a smoker (I use the Big Green Egg), then just adjust the air vents to create a stable 220°-230°F grill.
- Low and Slow. Give yourself plenty of time to make the ribs. Pick an afternoon when you have some yardwork to do or a book to read. A good rule of thumb is about 1 hour per pound of ribs. Don’t try to speed the process up by increasing the cooking temperature…you’ll just end up with tough and chewy ribs. And be prepared to get very, very hungry. After smelling those ribs cook all afternoon, you’ll be more than ready for dinner!
- 2-2-1 Method. You may have heard of the 3-2-1 method for making perfect ribs. It’s easy: put ’em on the smoker for 3 hours, then wrap them in aluminum foil and put them back on for another 2 hours, then finally unwrap the ribs and cook them for 1 more hour. It’s a pretty foolproof method! Because baby back ribs typically have less fat (compared to spare ribs), I usually reduce that first smoking time to just 2 hours.
Sweet Chili Glazed Baby Back Ribs
- 1 rack of Farmland/Smithfield Baby Back Ribs
- 2 Tbsp mustard
- 3-4 large chunks of wood I prefer apple wood for ribs
- aluminum foil
- 8 oz. dark beer or apple juice
For the Spice Rub:
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp onion powder
- ½ Tbsp chili powder
- ½ Tbsp garlic powder
- ½ Tbsp black pepper
- ½ Tbsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Sweet Chili Glaze
- ½ cup water
- 1½ Tbsp corn starch
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp cooking sherry
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
For the Sweet Chili Glaze
- Mix ¼ cup of the water with the corn starch until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a small sauce pan, combine the remaining ingredients (remaining 1/4 cup of water, rice vinegar, sugar, sherry, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper flakes) over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Let mixture boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
For the Ribs
- Combine all of the Spice Rub ingredients in a small bowl.
- Rinse ribs with water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Remove the whitish-colored membrane on the back of the ribs. (Tip: A butter knife is very helpful to begin separating the membrane from the ribs.)
- Trim off any large pieces of fat. Some fat is fine, but you don’t want large pieces.
- Spread a thin layer of mustard (or veggie oil) all over ribs and then coat with the dry rub. (I prefer to use mustard as it creates a better flavor once grilled.) Wrap ribs in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 30-45 minutes before cooking.
- Meanwhile, preheat your grill to 225°F.
- Once the grill has reached a stable 220-230°F, add 3-4 large wood chunks directly on top of the coals or right next to the burner.
- Put the ribs on the grill bone-side down, then close the lid and leave it closed! After about 2 hours, remove the ribs and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. But before closing up the foil, add about 8 ounces of dark beer or apple juice. (This helps create those perfect fall-off-the-bone style ribs!)
- Return the ribs to the grill for another 2 hours at 220-230°F.
- Make sure the Sweet Chili Glaze is prepared and ready (see instructions above).
- Remove ribs from the foil and brush half of the Sweet Chili Glaze over both sides of the ribs. Continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes. Brush the ribs with the remaining Sweet Chili Glaze and cook for 20-25 more minutes.
- To test doneness, pick up one end of a rack with grill tongs. If the rack bends to almost 90 degrees, then it’s done. I know this isn’t scientific, but it’s difficult to use a meat thermometer on ribs due to the bones.
- Once the ribs are done, allow them to rest a few minutes and then enjoy!
Looking for more grilling recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: