Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Summer is upon us. Time to BBQ everything!

Baby back ribs are a favorite food for weekends and parties. With knowledge and skill, you can cook them like a pro and impress your guests with the results. This recipe is for use with a smoker, though it can be modified to work in the oven. 

  • Prep Time - 30 minutes to 1 hour

  • Cook Time - 4-6 hours 


  • Baby Back Ribs – 3-4 racks

  • Salt

  • Seasoning or Rub

  • 2 Apple Juice Boxes

  • 2 Cups of Bourbon

  • ¼ Cup of Olive Oil

  • BBQ Sauce (optional)


Other Items Needed

  • Tin Foil

  • Spray Bottle (combine 1 apple juice box, 1 cup of bourbon)

  • Mix 1 cup of bourbon and 1 apple juice box for the wrap phase of cooking




Remove the baby back ribs from the packaging and pat dry

If the ribs are not pre-trimmed, remove the silver skin from the back side

Cover each rack with olive oil

Apply seasoning or rub

Optional: let ribs stand for 30 minutes



Phase 1 - Cooking

Set your smoker to 225

Set ribs on the grate and cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours

Use the spray bottle mixture (bourbon and apple juice) every 15-30 minutes on the ribs


Phase 2  - Wrap

Remove ribs from smoker and wrap each rack in tin foil

Add equal portions of the apple juice/bourbon to each packet

Put wrapped ribs back on the smoker for 1 to 1 ½ hour


Phase 3 – Sauce

Remove each rack of ribs from foil

Place ribs back on the grate of your smoker

Set temperature to 275

Add BBQ sauce to the ribs

Cook for 30-45 minutes



Ribs can be cut individually or in groups of 3-4 rib segments

Extra BBQ sauce can be served on the side

Final Thoughts

Ribs seem very simple, but can be tricky to work with. Individual tastes can vary, but the goal is to cook the ribs to the point where they easily pull away from the bone. If the rib meat simply falls from the bone, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they can be hard for guests to handle and can also approach being over cooked.

Tip 1 – Bourbon choice: it is not recommended to use the good stuff, save that for drinking. You are looking for the bourbon to add a layer of flavor here, and it would be difficult to catch the subtlety of the finer brands.

Tip 2 – Rib Meat Texture: If the ribs are mushy and separate from the bone, then shorten your cook time.

Tip 3 – Flavor Profile: The rub, bourbon, and BBQ sauce are creating a complex set of flavor layers – choose each one carefully.


Cheers,        Mark