Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

slow smoked baby back ribs in a carolina mop sauce

★★★★★ 2
a recipe by
George Levinthal
Goleta, CA

I bought my first smoker a couple of years ago and I love it. I've smoked ribs, chicken, and salmon with it, but the ribs are the best. I love barbecue and now I do it myself. Between my smoker and my grill, you can't get me off of the patio. And with our weather in Santa Barbara, that's most all year long. These ribs are sweet, tangy and a little bit of spice, but it's the meat that you'll fall in love with.

Blue Ribbon Recipe

Like any southern BBQ, these ribs can't be rushed and take a bit of TLC, but the outcome is so worth it. Once cooked, the ribs are fall off the bone tender with a perfect smokey flavor. We loved the combination of spices in the dry rub. George's mop sauce makes this recipe special. It's tangy and cooks to sweet, sticky perfection. You'll want to have a roll handy to sop up this sauce. There is a bit of watching the grill/smoker with this recipe, but the result is delicious ribs.

— The Test Kitchen @kitchencrew
★★★★★ 2
serves 3 to 4
prep time 12 Hr
cook time 5 Hr
method Smoke

Ingredients For slow smoked baby back ribs in a carolina mop sauce

  • 1 lg
    rack of baby back ribs (4-1/2 - 5 lbs), membrane removed
  • 1 tsp
    each of kosher or sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, ground cumin, ground mustard seeds and paprika
  • 2 tsp
    each onion and garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp
    cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp
    dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp
    butter or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c
    chopped shallots
  • 1/4 tsp
    each of kosher or sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp
    each minced garlic and minced ginger
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 3 Tbsp
    dark brown sugar
  • 2 c
    apple cider
  • 1/4 c
    apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c
  • 1/2 c
    barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbsp
    Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 Tbsp
    Jack Daniels (or your favorite)

How To Make slow smoked baby back ribs in a carolina mop sauce

  • 1
    Combine all of the rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • 2
    Rub on both sides of the ribs massaging it into the meat. Place in a large, sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 2 to 4 hours, or overnight.
  • 3
    Preheat you smoker to Smoke or a grill set for low, indirect heat. Add the wood chips or pellets and when they start to smoke, place the ribs directly on the grill, close the cover and cook, uncovered for 2-1/2 hours.
  • 4
    Spray every 30 to 45 minutes with a mixture of water and apple cider. A little Jack Daniels wouldn't hurt either. During this time, I make my mop sauce (See recipe below).
  • 5
    During the last 30 minutes of the uncovered cooking slather the ribs with the mop sauce. Then after the 2-1/2 hours slather the mop sauce on again, both sides.
  • 6
    Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Turn up the heat to medium and continue to smoke, for 1-1/2 hours.
  • 7
    After 1-1/2 hours remove the ribs from the foil. Slather again with the mop sauce and cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour until the meat has receded from the tip of the bone about 1/4" and are about ready to fall off the bone.
  • 8
    Slice into small slabs or individual ribs and serve with the remaining mop sauce.
  • 9
    For the Mop Sauce, heat the oil or butter in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the shallots are beginning to soften. Add the garlic and ginger and combine. Let cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  • 10
    Gradually add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally.
  • 11
    Turn the heat to low and continue to cook 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to simmer and keep warm. If you want to thicken it a little before you serve with the ribs, add a little cornstarch mixed with water into the sauce, bring back to a boil for a few minutes until it starts to thicken. You'll probably have some left for the next time or on other dishes.