May 23, 2013

Sweet and Smoky Barbecued Ribs with Tequila SauceRecipe by Jamie Purviance

Rating: 5 stars

11 Reviews

Serves: 4 // Prep time: 30 minutes, plus about 25 minutes for the sauce | Grilling time: 3 to 4 hours | Special equipment: 3 fist-sized hickory wood chunks (for a charcoal grill) or 6 large handfuls hickory wood chips (for a gas grill)

Grocery List

Fresh Produce

  • 1 limes
  • 1 yellow onions

Meat / Poultry / Seafood

  • 2 racks St. Louis–style spareribs, each 3 to 3½ lb

Oil and Spices

  • .5 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp prepared chili powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika


  • .5 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • .75 cups ketchup


  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Wine / Beer / Spirits

  • 1.5 fl oz tequila


  • 3 hickory wood chunks (for a charcoal grill) or 6 handfuls hickory wood chips (for a gas grill)
  • .5 cups dark brown sugar



  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder

  • 2 racks St. Louis–style spareribs, each 3 to 3-½ pounds


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons tequila
  • ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon prepared chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest


  1. In a small bowl mix the rub ingredients. 

  2. If using wood chips, soak in water for at least 30 minutes (no need to soak wood chunks).

  3. Using a dull dinner knife, slide the tip under the membrane covering the back of each rack of ribs. Lift and loosen the membrane until it breaks, and then grab a corner with a paper towel and pull it off. Season the racks all over with the rub. Let the racks stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. 

  4. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over low heat (250˚ to 300˚F).

  5. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the ketchup, tequila, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, chili powder, and granulated garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 18 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest. 

  6. Brush the cooking grates clean. Add one wood chunk to the charcoal or one handful of the wood chips to the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer’s instructions, and close the lid. When the wood begins to smoke, place the racks over indirect low heat, bone side down, and close the lid. Cook until the meat has shrunk back from the bones at least ½ inch in several places and the meat tears easily when you lift each rack, 3 to 4 hours. Keep the temperature of the grill between 250° and 300°F. If you’re using a charcoal grill, replenish the charcoal as needed to maintain a steady temperature. Leave the lid off the grill for about 5 minutes to help the new briquettes light. Add one wood chunk to the charcoal every 45 minutes, or drain and add one handful of the remaining wood chips to the smoker box every 20 minutes before the old chips burn out. During the last 30 minutes of cooking time, lightly brush the racks with some of the sauce. 

  7. Remove the racks from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Just before serving, lightly brush the racks with sauce again. Cut the racks into individual ribs and serve warm with remaining sauce. 

11 Reviews

Average Rating

Rating: 5 stars

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Rating: 5 stars

May 24, 2013

Alfonso E. S


Very good for the occasion, even if I have to tent the grill.

Type of Griller


Would you recommend this recipe? YES

Rating: 5 stars

May 25, 2013


Cook"s Illustrated

There is a grilling study for ribs that is very informative in this month's Cook's Illustrated, that shows you what is wrong with this "very good" technique, and your recipe is the way I have always done it, but I have been getting such good results out this "wrapped on foil" method during part of my cooking, that I can't wait to try this Cook's Illustrated technique, but it will have to involve more "smoke exposure" for our taste and less "California" BBQ sauce.

Type of Griller


Would you recommend this recipe? YES

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Sweet and Smoky Barbecued Ribs with Tequila Sauce