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Apple Cider Ribs Recipe by Pitmaster Chris Lilly

Apple Cider Ribs

Recipe created by award-winning pitmaster Chris Lilly
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 racks loin back ribs (baby back)
  • 1 c barbecue sauce

Dry Rub

  • ¼ c dark brown sugar
  • 4 tsp garlic salt
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp white pepper

Liquid Seasoning

  • ¼ c apple cider
  • ¼ c apple jelly
  • ¼ c honey
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dry rub mix (above)


  • Remove membrane from rack of ribs. Chris Lilly, "If you don't remove the membrane, it takes on a waxed paper consistency and is not a great chew." With a paper towel, grab the end of the membrane on the back of the ribs and pull.

Dry Rub

  • In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients and mix well. Reserve a tablespoon of the rub for the liquid seasoning mixture. Generously apply the dry rub onto the front and back sides of ribs. Gently pat to ensure that the rub will adhere. (Even though it's called a 'rub', there's no need to rub it in.) Let them sit for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare Grill

  • Build a charcoal fire for indirect cooking using the 2-zone fire. Situate the coals on only one side of the charcoal grill, leaving the other side void. Add a small aluminum pan to the void side of the grill and fill it halfway with water. (Leave burners off on one side or the front of a barbecue or electric grill.) For more info on the 2-zone method, see How to Grill Like a Pitmaster: BBQ Tips from Chris Lilly
  • When the grill reaches 250°F, place ribs meat-side up on grill grate above the void area and cook with indirect heat for 2 hours and 15 minutes. (If you're going to use wood chips or briquets for smoking, add them to the charcoal just before placing ribs on grill.)

Liquid Seasoning

  • Prepare foil: use doubled aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap the ribs, one for each slab. Remove ribs from grill and place meat-side down on its own foil.
  • Mix liquid seasoning in a small bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of the liquid over each slab. Then tightly wrap and seal with aluminum foil. Place the wrapped ribs back on the voided side of the grill for 1 hour at 250°F.

Finishing Glaze

  • Remove ribs from grill, unwrap, and discard foil. Brush finishing glaze of the barbecue sauce on both sides of ribs. Place ribs back on the voided side of grill for 10 - 15 minutes, or until sauce caramelizes.
  • Let ribs rest for 5 - 10 minutes to reabsorb its juices. Your meat will not get cold, it actually continues to cook while resting.
  • Cut slabs into ½ or ⅓ rack of ribs and serve.
Keyword BBQ