Baby Back Bliss

Coated in a spicy apple glaze, these barbecued ribs will have you in hog heaven.

Eugenia Uhl Photographs

There’s nothing that says “summertime” quite like a barbecue, and there’s nothing more American than homemade apple anything. Combine the two concepts, and you’ve got the perfect dish for your Fourth of July celebration – spicy apple-glazed baby back ribs. The out-of-this-world flavor of smoky, savory ribs topped with this sweet-and-spicy glaze will have you and your guests squealing for more!

Baby Back Ribs with a Spicy Apple Glaze


3 cups apple cider
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup thinly sliced ginger
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped
6 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt


4 to 5 pounds baby back ribs (2 full slabs, each cut in half)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup apple cider

To make the glaze, place all of the ingredients for the glaze in a 6-quart pot and cook over medium-high heat. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to reduce to a glaze consistency, about 30 to 35 minutes longer. Remove the glaze from the stove, and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Reserve until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Place the ribs on a full sheet pan. In a small mixing bowl, combine the kosher salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and cayenne. Stir well to incorporate, and use 1 tablespoon of this spice rub to cover each of the ribs. Rub the mixture into the meat, and allow it to sit undisturbed for at least 20 minutes.

Pour the cider into the sheet pan, and wrap the ribs with aluminum foil to make a tight seal. Place the sheet pan in the oven, and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the ribs are very tender.

Remove the ribs from the oven, discard the foil, and carefully drain the fat and oil from the sheet pan. Allow the ribs to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust the oven to the broil setting, and position the oven rack on the lowest rung. Brush the ribs with a generous coating of the glaze, about 3 tablespoons of the glaze per slab of ribs. Place the sheet pan back in the oven, and broil until the ribs are browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven, and lay on a cutting board meaty-side down. Use a sharp knife to cut the ribs apart. Serve the ribs with some of the leftover glaze on the side if desired. Serves 4.

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.

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