Use Your Smoker This Summer: Recipe for Bourbon Ribs

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We made these smoked ribs last year in our barrel smoker, and they turned out SO good. We were so busy trying out other new recipes in our new smoker haze that I never got around to writing about them. But when we made them last weekend, we knew it was love all over again. I'm not even a fan of Jim Beam, but this sauce is to die for.

Smoking meat is a bit of an art form, especially when you're using a homemade smoker. But the feast you end up with is worth every second of that agonizing, mouth watering wait.

We always seem to have a lot of sauce remaining (since we usually only make two racks of ribs at a time). Sometimes we'll have a few pieces of t-bone steak or roast left over, so we heat up the meat with a bit of the sauce on it and then throw it on a French bread or sandwich roll. Add a bit more sauce to the roll so the sandwich is dripping, whip up some fries on the side, and you have yourself one heck of a meal.

When you smoke ribs, remember that they take 3-4 hours to cook. I usually try to prepare the sauce in the morning, since it can take a while to cook down. And remember that you'll get the most flavor when you marinate the ribs overnight.

Whenever we're smoking and need to survey the progress regularly, we find outdoor projects to do nearby. That has involved everything from making jalapeno hot sauce to gardening projects to just playing with the kiddo. We can work up an appetite as a family while we salivate over the meal to come.

smoker ribs recipe

Bourbon Smoked Ribs Recipe


  • One-half cup of Jim Beam or other bourbon whiskey
  • One-half cup brown sugar
  • One 12 ounce can of beer
  • Two tablespoons soy sauce
  • Two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • One tablespoon chopped garlic
  • One teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 racks of spare ribs (about 5 pounds or 2 kilos)


  • Heat the marinade ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and completely dissolve the sugar. Allow to cool, either on your stove top or in the fridge to accelerate the process.
  • Remove thin layer of skin from the back the spare ribs, using a dull knife to gently pry up the skin.  This skin makes the ribs chewier and also keeps the meat from absorbing the marinade.
    smoked ribs
  • A paper towel will help grip the slippery skin as you tear it off.
    smoked ribs recipe
  • Slice into the meat between each rib, about 1 inch deep.
    smoked ribs
  • Place the ribs in a large plastic bag and add cooled marinade to them. Allow to marinate overnight. Flip and rearrange the bag from time to time so that the ribs marinate evenly.
    smoked ribs recipe
  • Remove the slab of ribs from the marinade (saving marinade) and allow ribs to drain. Pat rack of ribs dry.
  • Put the marinade in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reducing by half.
  • Add one cup of tomato sauce, one quarter cup of cider vinegar, and two tablespoons of molasses and continue to simmer until thickened.
  • Soak hickory chips in water and then add to smoker. Place ribs bone-side down on smoker rack and smoke at about 225°F (110°C) for 2-3 hours (thick ribs will need more time). Flip the ribs over and smoke for 30 minutes.
  • Remove 1/2 cup sauce from the pan and brush ribs with sauce.  Smoke for another 30 minutes.
    smoker ribs recipe
  • When the internal temperature of your ribs hits 165°F (75°C), they are finished. Remove them from the smoker and place them on a plate or tray. Brush them one more time with sauce, cover the entire plate with plastic wrap and place several dish towels over it. This will keep the heat in the ribs as the juices reabsorb into the meat over the next few minutes, giving you wonderfully succulent ribs.
    smoker ribs
  • Serve bourbon smoked ribs with remaining sauce and favorite sides such as sweet coleslaw and home-style fries or 5-bean baked beans. Make the coleslaw and baked beans a day ahead to enhance flavor and keep you stress-free on BBQ day. Don't forget the paper towels!

Tiffany also publishes the blog No Ordinary Homestead where you'll find all sorts of tips and tricks about cooking, gardening, Newfies, parentings and living a more simple life.


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