Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs


This is a hybrid recipe for ribs, fusing the dry-rub method of Memphis-style barbecue with the sauce-slathered style of Kansas City fare. The ribs are first coated with a spice rub and refrigerated overnight, then partially cooked in the oven until tender. Just before serving, they are coated with sauce and finished on the grill.


  • ½ cup (4 oz/125 g) sweet or hot paprika
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ancho or New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 4 slabs baby back pork ribs, about 5 lb (2.5 kg), trimmed
  • Prepared barbecue sauce


In a small bowl, stir together paprika, brown sugar, chile powder, garlic powder, mustard, cumin, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Rinse ribs under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season all over with spice mixture, massaging it in well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Place ribs in a shallow roasting pan and roast, turning occasionally, until they are fork-tender, 2–2½ hours.

Prepare a grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Brush and oil grill rack.

Transfer ribs to a cutting board and cut each slab into 3- or 4-rib portions. Brush with barbecue sauce on both sides. Place ribs on grill rack directly over hot coals or heat elements and cook, turning once, until shiny and glazed, about 5 minutes per side. If barbecue sauce begins to burn, transfer ribs to a cooler area of grill.

Transfer ribs to a cutting board. Cut ribs between bones and pile high on a platter. Serve right away with additional barbecue sauce on side.