Backyard Barbecue Ribs with Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce

The first act - a spicy, smoky-flavored rub - sets the stage for the second - the sticky soda-base sauce that follows. Together, this combo creates pork ribs perfection. Look for molasses powder - a unique product made from dehydrated blackstrap molasses - at spice shops or online.

Barbecue Ribs with Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce
Prep Time:
20 mins
Stand Time:
25 mins
Grill Time:
2 hrs
Total Time:
20 mins


  • Hickory or apple wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes

  • 4 slabs pork ribs, about 2 pounds each, St. Louis cut, if possible

  • 1 recipe Hot & Sticky BBQ Rub (recipe below)

  • 1 recipe Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce (recipe below

Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce

  • 4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 12 ounce can Dr. Pepper

  • ½ cup cider vinegar

  • cup Worcestershire sauce

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoon ancho or New Mexican chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon fine-ground white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Hot & Sticky Barbecue Rub

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon molasses powder, optional

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, preferably Morton

  • ½ teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika

  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs, if desired. Set up the grill for indirect heat and, if using wood chips, place the soaked chips directly on the charcoal or in the smoking box of the gas grill. Rub the ribs liberally with the spice rub and let sit, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Place ribs (bone side down) in the center of the cooking grate or in a rib holder or rack, making sure they are not over a direct flame. Grill covered (at 300° to 325°F, if your grill has a thermometer) for 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender and has pulled back from the ends of the rib bones.

  3. Leave the ribs untended for the first 30 minutes, this means no peeking (especially important if using wood chips). If the ribs start to burn on the edges, stack them on top of one another in the very center of the grill and lower your fire slightly. Twenty minutes before serving, unstack if necessary and brush with the barbecue sauce. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into individual portions. Warm the remaining sauce in a saucepan and serve on the side.

Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce

  1. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the flavors have blended. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken, 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper if desired. Remember, the ribs will have plenty of spice rub on them, so don't over season the sauce.

  2. Let the sauce cool for about 10 minutes or until it is warm but no longer boiling hot. Puree with an immersion or traditional blender¿this will make the sauce thicker. Let cool. The sauce will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

  3. Brush it on food 5 to 15 minutes before the cooking time is finished. If desired, serve extra on the side.

Hot & Sticky Barbecue Rub

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

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