Oven Baby Back Ribs with Hoisin-Bourbon Sauce

by Sally on May 30, 2011 · 10 comments

in Beef & Pork

There’s something about the flavor of charred meat that makes our primal instincts kick in. Fire and meat equals wonderful flavors. With summer cooking and grilling ahead, certain dishes capture the essence and enjoyment of summer. Baby back ribs, coated with a caramelized Chinese-inspired barbecue sauce, is one of them. Best served with plenty of napkins.

With smoky flavor and a finger-licking barbecue sauce, pork ribs are something not many can resist. By adapting my mom’s recipe, starting ribs in the oven and finishing them on the grill, you can have delicious, easy to prepare baby back ribs in under an hour and a half.

For folks in some parts of the country barbecue is practically a religion. Doing ribs anyway but “low and slow” on a smoker would be unthinkable. I don’t have a smoker (yet) in my backyard to do the traditional slow-cooked style and not often the hours it may take, but my adapted recipe tastes terrific in a relatively short timeframe. No matter if you have a big oven and grill or a small oven and grill on an apartment balcony, you can make tasty ribs.

My mom started her pork spareribs in an electric skillet. She covered them with thinly sliced onion and lemon and finished them on the grill. For my version, I prefer leaner, baby back ribs and season them with kosher salt, smoked black pepper and granulated garlic. I top the ribs with orange, lemon and onion slices and squeeze on some extra orange juice.

Wrapped in a heavy foil packet and placed on a sheet tray, the ribs bake for about an hour. They come out tender and juicy, ready to be finished on the grill, slathered in barbecue sauce.

As a note, when you unwrap the ribs from the foil there will be delicious juices accumulated. Pour them into a cup and save them in case you need to thin the barbecue sauce.

My sauce recipe for ribs is based on Chinese Hoisin sauce. I add orange juice, garlic, ginger, smoked spices, espresso powder and spirits – either dark rum, Bourbon or whiskey. This is a good time to order the smoked spices I’ve mentioned in previous posts, as they add to the smoky flavor. If you don’t have the smoked spices, make the ribs anyway with the regular version of the spices. You can order smoked spices from the Chefs Warehouse.

After baking in the oven, finish your ribs on a hot grill over low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Turn your rib racks about every 5-7 minutes, brushing with barbecue sauce. You want a good coating of sauce to caramelize on the ribs. Remove from the grill, slice and enjoy.

On quantity, I buy ¾ to 1 pound per person of baby back ribs. It will depend on the size of the appetite and what you are serving along side. Anyway, just enjoy. And be sure to offer plenty of napkins. These really are finger-licking good.

Oven Baby Back Ribs with Hoisin-Bourbon Sauce

There’s something about the flavor of charred meat that makes our primal instincts kick in. Fire and meat equals wonderful flavors. Baby back pork ribs coated with a caramelized Chinese-inspired barbecue sauce, is one of the great dishes of summer. Best served with plenty of napkins. Order the smoked spices from Chefs Warehouse

Serves 4-5


  • 4 pounds (about 2  kilos) of baby back ribs (approximately), trimmed of any silverskin (tendon on the rib underside)
  • Granulated garlic, as needed
  • Smoked black pepper (or regular black pepper), as needed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • 2 small onions, sliced thin
  • 1-2 large oranges, sliced thin
  • 1-2 lemons, sliced thin

For the Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup (240ml) prepared Hoisin sauce (preferably organic like Whole Foods 365)
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) orange juice, fresh squeezed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  • 2 generous teaspoons (18 grams) ginger puree (the organic jar stuff) or finely zested fresh ginger root
  • 1 generous teaspoon (2 grams) espresso powder (or use 1 tablespoon reduced, really strong coffee)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) spirits – bourbon, whiskey, dark rum, or cognac
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) ketchup (organic)
  • 1 teaspoon (8 grams) smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • ½ teaspoon (4 grams) smoked black pepper (or regular black pepper)


  1. Remove baby back ribs from the refrigerator about 45 minute ahead of baking time come to room temperature (really just getting the chill off). If not already done, remove the silverskin (tendon) from the underside of the rib rack tearing it off with a table knife. Pre–heat oven to 350 degrees (177C).
  2. Make the barbecue sauce. Combine Hoisin, orange juice, garlic, ginger, espresso, spirits, ketchup and spices in a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat until combined and a bit reduced, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. On a half-sheet (13” x 18”) size rimmed baking sheet, place a large piece of heavy duty foil. Place rib racks in a single layer. Two racks will fit on one half sheet baking pan.  Sprinkle ribs liberally with salt, pepper and garlic. Then top ribs with the onion, lemon and orange slices. Squeeze any extra orange pieces over the ribs. With more heavy-duty foil, enclose the ribs in a foil packet.
  4. Place the ribs in a 350 degree (177C) oven for about 50-60 minutes. When ribs are done, open the foil packet carefully, releasing the steam away from you. Drain the juices into a container and reserve if needed to thin sauce.
  5. Brush ribs with sauce on the top side (rounded side). Place ribs on a hot grill turned down to low and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes. Turn the racks and brush again with sauce. Continue at 5-7 minute interval until the ribs are thickly coated with caramelized sauce, about 20-25 minutes in total.
  6. Remove ribs from the grill, slice between the bones, serve with extra sauce on the side.

Note on Hoisin Sauce – it’s worth seeking out an organic brand of Hoisin Sauce, like from Whole Foods and their 365 brand. The standard stuff in the Asian aisle has carmel coloring as well as food dye red 40, along with other ingredients which are best avoided. 

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ang June 7, 2011 at 4:54 am

I came across your blog on a friends FB page, and the sight of these ribs have me salivating as I type. I would love to make these for my Moms Birthday coming up:)


2 Razorblogger June 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I think the pictures look awesome. The sauce sounds amazing. I think letting the meat get to room temperature “is asking for trouble”, i think keeping meat at a cool temperature. Beneficial to keeping away bacteria that will turn your dish. Check out my tasty baby backs with Kansas Style BBQ sauce. They were a crowd pleaser.


3 Sally June 8, 2011 at 1:18 am

Dear Razorblogger. I’m glad you commented so I can clarify something for everyone about meat temperatures. Allowing meat to sit out for 45 minutes is completely safe. What you are doing is allowing the meat to get the chill off. It will roast better and you’ll get better results. It’s not really coming to room temperature. No fears about food safety. I’m Food Safe Certified and am very careful about such things. Now if you let it sit out for several hours, there could be issues.

The temperature danger zone is 41 degrees to 135 degrees. When food is in that range for more than four hours pathogens can grow to high enough levels to cause illness. Thanks again for the comment. Good chance to help everyone learn. Here is a link to more info on food safety. http://www.foodsafety.gov/.


4 Vicki Bensinger July 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

These sound delicious and look so pretty with the sliced oranges. I do something similar but not with the oranges. I’ll have to try that.


5 OlegT November 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Sally you said to put it in the over for 50-60 minutes, My questions is will I be able to leave it in for lets say hour and a half for more tender ribs or that’s perfect the way you have it. I don’t have much experience in cooking ribs
Thank you,


6 Sally November 8, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Hi Oleg. If you are cooking baby back ribs, the hour should be plenty. I don’t think another 30 minutes would give you much in terms of additional tenderness. Please let me know how they come out. And thanks for the comment.


7 CestKoi November 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I made those ribs last night for my brother’s family and they were a success! Thank you for sharing this recipe


8 Sally November 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I’m so glad they were a hit. Thanks for sharing. I love to hear that!


9 Sawyer October 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I made these tonight and they were a HUGE success… my first time I’ve ever made ribs, and I’ll use this recipe forever. They were gone in a blink of an eye. I didn’t use baby back ribs because the store didn’t have them, but I used regular back ribs. These clearly took longer to cook but I took them out after 60 minutes after some color came into the meat and put them on the grill, which made them perfect. The flavor was amazing and it was incredibly tender and juicy. Thanks so much for this awesome recipe!


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