Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Garlic-Ginger BBQ Glaze

LunaCafe's Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Garlic-Ginger BBQ Glaze

Well folks, we are into Round 2 (final round) of the infamous (thanks to Twitter) Fried Chicken and BBQ Rib Throw Down. To check out the Twitter banter around the contest, go to #ThrowDown. If you want to know how this all got started, read the first few paragraphs of the LunaCafe’s Spicy Fried Chicken post, which was our Round 1 entry.

At the end of this post, you can also check out the throw down rules, list of contestants, and the recipe posts so far. Contestants have until end of day June 29th to post their entries.

But in case you don’t make it to the end, I want to add a special note of thanks here to Mark LaPolla of the Life By Chocolate blog, who orchestrated the contest and the unruly, hooligan contestants. We somehow managed to break every rule, especially the “Don’t taunt Bobby Flay” rule, and yet he handled it all with exceedingly good humor. Thank you, Mark! We owe you, cowboy! J

Now, on to the ribs…

Fresh Ginger for BBQ Glaze

If my BBQ ribs have a “secret ingredient,” it’s definitely the brining process. I confirmed this for myself yesterday. I was in a rush to launch this post and thus decided not to brine the ribs. I mean, really, whose going to notice?

Everything was going swimmingly until MauiJim took his first bite of the beautifully glazed, incredibly tender ribs. I was expecting RAVES. But instead he asked what I did differently this time. Rather than tell him, I asked for his impression.

His response was spot on. He said,” It’s like the flavor is ON the meat, not IN the meat.” He was right. Not only did I not brine the ribs, I didn’t marinate them in the sauce for any length of time either. I broke all my own rules. Never again though. I’ve learned my lesson.

Unless you have access to a smoker grill that will allow you to slow smoke the ribs and thus infuse a marvelous flavor in that way, brining, in my opinion, is a must. It is the only way I know of, other than smoking, to ensure that your chosen flavors permeate the meat all the way to the bone. Even a killer sauce can’t do the entire flavoring job.

BBQ Glaze on the Stove

My other BBQ Rib “secret” is to slow-poach the ribs prior to grilling. With slow poaching, you break down the connective fiber, which fast grilling does not do. The ribs are then incredibly tender.

I also love this method because I never have to worry whether the ribs are cooked to the necessary internal temperature for safe consumption. Plus all major steps are done ahead. All you need to do just before serving the ribs is heat them through and brown the glaze. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

I almost forgot to mention that these BBQ ribs are over-the-top delicious. I have served them at numerous Fourth of July family gatherings, and they are always the star attraction. Folks are still talking about them even years later. I LOVE that. J

Glazed Baby Back Ribs Ready to Grill

Grilling Tips & Tricks

  • For the best grilled flavor possible, use wood charcoal alone or in combination with wood chips (which must first be soaked in cold water). Mesquite, alderwood, peachwood, and applewood are all excellent flavor producers.
  • Charcoal briquettes vary widely in quality and are less desirable as a grilling medium– although they are so easily available, it is always a temptation to use them. With briquettes, look out for the smell of petroleum (motor oil). It is often used to bind the pieces together and it doesn’t always cook off before you are ready to barbecue. A greasy, smudged residue on your hands after touching one of these briquettes is a good indication as to the use of petroleum by-products in the charcoal.
  • Be sure to start your fire in plenty of time to insure it is thoroughly active when you begin to grill. This will usually take 35-45 minutes; the coals should be covered with a coating of ash.
  • Your grill should be cleaned thoroughly after each use to prevent a buildup of heavy, off flavors. Always brush the grill rack with oil before putting anything on it.
  • 15-20 briquettes are plenty for a couple of chickens or two racks of baby back ribs; be sure to spread the coals out evenly before you begin to cook. The closer together the coals are spaced, the hotter the fire will be.
  • With the advent of urban living, condos with miniscule decks or no decks at all, and gas grills, charcoal grilling is not always an option. That’s OK. You can get delectable (although not the same) results using a gas grill or even an oven.
  • Although baby back ribs should be meltingly tender even without a brine, there is no way (other than smoking) to get flavor all the way into the meat without brining it. If you cannot smoke and grill over natural charcoal with added soaked wood chips, don’t even think of not brining.
  • Whatever flavors you add to the brine will permeate your meat.
  • Baby back ribs are a great choice for BBQ because they are succulent, tender, and a perfect size for eating with your hands. I prefer pork, but beef ribs are wonderful too.

Platter of LunaCafe Baby Back Ribs with BBQ Glaze

LunaCafe’s Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Garlic-Ginger BBQ Sauce

These ribs are meltingly tender as a result of the brining and slow poaching processes specified here. They are also a snap for the host, because they are fully cooked ahead, thus requiring only a brief period on the grill before serving.

3 full racks baby back pork ribs (each rib should contain 12-14 ribs)


2 quarts unsweetened apple cider (unpasteurized if you can get it)

1/4 cup wildflower honey

1/4 cup fine sea salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

5 star anise pods

Garlic-Ginger Barbecue Glaze

2 cups best-quality catsup

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup wildflower honey

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon cayenne powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon anise, ground with a mortar and pestle.

  1. Cut the racks into 3 or 4 rib sections. You should get 3 to 4 sections per rack.
  2. Arrange the ribs in a large nonreactive container.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cider, honey, salt, ginger, garlic, and anise. Whisk to dissolve the salt.
  4. Pour cider mixture over the pork ribs, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  5. Up to two days before serving, drain the brine solution completely from the pork.
  6. Put ribs in a large pot and fully cover with cold water.
  7. Bring water to a bare simmer?just a bubble or two on the surface.
  8. Maintain this bare simmer for 45 minutes, using a cover if necessary.
  9. Using long-handled tongs, remove ribs from the water and place in a large nonreactive container.
  10. While ribs are cooking, make the glaze by combining all glaze ingredients in a large saucepan and bringing to a simmer.
  11. Stir until the butter melts, and then remove from the heat.
  12. Dip each pre-cooked rib section in the prepared sauce and rearrange in the container.
  13. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill, preferably at least 6 hours.
  14. To grill, prepare a charcoal or gas grill and brush the grilling surface with vegetable oil.
  15. Arrange sauce-coated rib sections on the grill and lightly brown each side while heating through. Brush with sauce each time you turn. The glaze should look burnished and sticky, rather than wet, when the ribs are done.
  16. Alternatively, place the glazed ribs on a rack set on an edged baking sheet. Bake or roast at 400°, turning once, until the surface of the ribs is nicely browned and the ribs are heated through, about 30 minutes.
  17. Pile onto a platter to serve. Include additional glaze on the side.

Serves 6-10.

LunaCafe's Baby Back Ribs on the Grill


Fried Chicken or BBQ Ribs Throw Down Rules & Contestants


A huge thank you to Mark LaPolla of the Life By Chocolate blog, who master-minded this throw down, corralled the wild and woolly contestants, and kept a steady stream of hilarious Twitter banter going around the contest. This throw down has been a hoot!

Also, our apologies to Bobby Flay, the throw down king, whom we badgered mercilessly on Twitter for weeks. It was all in fun, Bobby! We were really hoping you would join our party. J As a peace offering, there’s a pointer below to your Asian Spice Rubbed Ribs, which sound fantabulous.

Rules: Virtual Throw Down: A Twitter and Blog Extravaganza


SMS Bradley, Pacific Northwest

Twitter: @LunaCafe


Mark LaPolla, New York
Twitter: @LifeByChocolate

Gluten Free Sanctuary
Leslie McLinden, Arkansas
Twitter: @lesliemac59

Cre8tive Kitchen
Brenda Campbell, Washington
Twitter: @cre8tivekitchen

Fresh Eyes

Jan Richards, California

Twitter: @MrsRoadshow

Grandma’s Gluten-Free Baking N Cooking

Joyce Paige, Kansas

Twitter: @SilknPearls or @GFGrandmaBNC

Licorice, Chocolate and Other Foods To Love

Andrea Rowe, Pacific Northwest

Twitter: @LicoriceShrine

Sensitive Pantry

Nancy Kohler, New Jersey

Twitter: @SensitivePantry

The Router Guy
Twitter: @routerguy

Other Noteworthy Fried Chicken or BBQ Ribs Blog Posts

Forking Delicious

David Lawrence, Los Angeles

Twitter: @ChefDaveLA

Food Network

Bobby Flay, United States

Twitter: @bflay or @bobbyflay

More Pork Recipes from LunaCafe:

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  1. says

    I have never thought to grill ribs before but these look fabulous and my husband loves to grill so I’m hopefully going to get this on the menu soon!

  2. David says

    Susan, I think I’m going to try it this way: Follow the recipe for the brining in the fridge. Then wrap in aluminum and add some of the brine liquid, then slow bake in a low temp oven. I trust my oven skills not my simmer in a pot skills.

      • Susan S. Bradley says

        Hi Kevin. To dissolve the connective tissue (which can make the ribs tough), try a slow, long oven roast, say 300 degrees for about 2 hours. Put the ribs, meaty side up, on a broiling pan or a wire roasting rack set over a baking sheet. After the first hour, rotate the pan every 30 minutes. Let us know how they turn out. :-)

  3. David says

    Thanks Susan. I think I did something wrong following this recipe. I had trouble keeping the water to a simmer and not a rolling boil. The ribs turned out not as tender. What about slow baking (after braising) in the oven WITH the braising liquid? I know I’ve been successful getting ribs to be tender with baking them. The braising time in fridge is new to me.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      David, so sorry you are having difficulty here. The bare simmer is essential as it ensures just the right amount of heat to “melt” the connective tissue while not overcooking the meat. You could braise the ribs in the oven if that makes it easier for you to maintain a bare simmer. From your note, it sounds like you might be confusing the cold brining liquid, which is tossed before braising the ribs, with the BBQ Glaze. Cold brining is the most essential part of this recipe. If you want to skip braising altogether, that will work fine with baby back ribs, which are usually very tender anyway. However, you will want to grill or roast the ribs a least halfway through before beginning to slather on the sauce. Otherwise, the sauce might burn by the time the ribs are cooked through. Make sense? Good luck! …Susan

      • David says

        wow thanks Susan! I apologize, I wrote braising I meant brining. I agree that is important. They were tasty using the brining process. I just did a fav BBQ sauce instead of the glaze.

  4. Kim in MD says

    Hi Susan- I just discovered your blog today through Tastespotting, and this is already my second comment! I have to say that I have really been missing out, but I am thrilled to have found your fabulous blog!

    I agree that brining is the “secret” to great chicken, turkey and pork. It really is worth the extra step to ensure moist, perfectly seasoned meat.

    I would like to make your rib recipe for my BBQ on the 4th of July. I am certain that I will have trouble finding apple cider here in Maryland this time of year (I usually can’t find it until the Fall). Would unsweetened apple juice be an exceptable substitute? Thanks so much!

    • sms bradley says

      Hi Kim, so glad you found your way here! :-) Yes indeed, unsweetened apple juice will work just fine for the brine. The apple flavor is really wonderful with pork. Wishing you a happy festive 4th of July. Best…Susan

    • Kim in MD says

      Thank you for the speedy replay, Susan! I am on my way to the store for the apple juice right now! I love the fireworks on your site today! Happy Independence Day! :-)

  5. lisa says


    I made the ribs tonight and I ran into the same problem with the flavor being on the meat instead of in the meat since I skipped the brining. Husband still liked them so I’m going to try them again for easter weekend and will definetely be brining them. This time, I smoked them for five hours and sopped them every 45 minutes with the barbecue sauce and they didn’t char. Do you think I can still save the barbecue sauce I made this time and use it for next time on April 4th or will the sauce be rancid by then? Thanks!!

  6. lisa says


    I’m eagerly waiting to try your recipe tonight. I’m going to smoke them on my big green egg so I will be skipping the brining process but I was wondering if I should still marinate them in the sauce for a few hours and then put them on the smoker. When I initially put them on the smoker should I wipe off most of the marinade and then glaze them every hour or so? I will be cooking them for about five hours at 225F. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Can’t wait!!!

    • sms bradley says

      Lisa, actually the brine is more important to the flavor of the ribs than the sauce, which coats the meat but doesn’t actually flavor it–if that makes sense. Nevertheless, with a long slow smoke, the ribs will likely be plenty tender and flavorful. I don’t have a smoker so am no expert here, but I think I would begin saucing the ribs maybe 1 hour prior to completion. With too much time, even at 225 degrees, there is the possibility of charring the sauce. Do let us know how they turn out. What a fun adventure! :-)

  7. Chad says

    Bookmarked and anxious to try these. They look amazing. Might be just the thing for my “Winter Denial” grilling session coming up in a couple of months.

    • sms bradley says

      Oh yes, Chad, these are perfect for winter denial, especially if you have a covered deck. Mind if I borrow that idea? :-)

  8. says

    What GREAT grilling tips! I discovered a solution to one of my main “beefs” when it comes to Baby Back Ribs It’s like the flavor is ON the meat, not IN the meat.” I won’t be making that mistake anymore! Heavenly, simply heavenly…

    Thanks for sharing, Susan…

    A Safe & Happy 4th to You & Yours!!!
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..The Domestic Side of Uncle Sam =-.

  9. says

    I love the brining step. We brine our turkey at Thanksgiving and we also use, and you might try this, fruit wood to BBQ these beautiful pork ribs. I think I’ll try your brine on a whole pig. :-) Next throw down, whole pig roast???? Love that apple cider vinegar. Which type do you use?

    • sms bradley says

      Thanks Mark! What fun this throwdown has been. Thanks so much for all your “herding cats.” :-) I don’t recall the maker of the fresh apple cider. Several small NW companies produce it in the fall and sell at the farmers markets. It’s difficult to find it unpastuerized during the rest of the year though. Your smoking and grilling pictures really make me want to buy a new grill. What a difference that makes.

  10. says

    Baby Backs Smothered in Garlic Ginger Sauce.
    I LOVE that this recipe has been family tested=Tried and True. Our own family can be brutally honest with us, while guests will politely smile.

    Positives: Brining. Every meat lover knows the virtues of brining. Flavour and tenderness! (sounds like an Elvis intro) A smoker is better, but my neighbors and the local fire department may disagree.

    Sauce: Ginger and Garlic go together and are as old as Kung and Pao. The secret ingredient in your sauce that is intriguing is Anise! Not alot, but just enough to titillate.

    Bonus:Your Ribs are caramelized to how you say, “Perfecto”!

    ShaveMistress (virtual judge)


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