I adapted this recipe from the best rib recipe I’ve ever made – Dr. Pepper Ribs from Men’s Health.
They are sweet and tangy, and fall-off-the-bone tender. I knew if Dr. Pepper would work, so would root beer.
The cool thing about this recipe is that people can’t really tell you used root beer – it’s not a flavor you can pick out and identify in the finished product.
All you know is that the ribs are amazing, and there’s a secret ingredient.
I’ll leave you with the photo my husband thought looked like two racks of ribs making sweet, sweet, low & slow love. Yeah, he’s hilarious.
- 2 racks baby back ribs
- 1 bottle (2 liters) root beer
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Place ribs in large baking dish (I use my big roasting pan. I also generally cut each rack in half so I can get everything nestled in the pan easier). Pour all but 1 cup root beer over ribs. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons salt over ribs; cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight, turning once if possible.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove ribs from root beer and pat dry with paper towel. Discard root beer in pan; wipe pan dry. Place ribs back into pan. Add 1 cup water; cover tightly with foil. Cook 2 hours or until meat is nearly falling off the bone.
- Meanwhile, make Root Beer Barbecue Sauce: In small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is soft, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients (including reserved 1 cup root beer and 1/2 teaspoon salt); heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
- Just before ribs hit the 2 hour mark in the oven, preheat grill for indirect grilling over medium-high heat. Put bones on cooler side of grill, bone side down. Brush with some Root Beer Barbecue Sauce and cook 10 to 15 minutes, then flip. Brush with sauce again and cook until ribs are lightly charred and meat is falling off bone. Serve with any remaining sauce. Bring wet-naps to the table.