Apple City Baby Back Ribs

This recipe was shared by Dan Hathaway in our June 2020 show with Moe Cason. The recipe is inspired by the award-winning ribs made by the Apple City BBQuers from Murphysboro, Illinois, one of the most successful barbecue contest teams in the country. Serves 3 to 4

From the book:  Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison



  • 1 ½ cups apple cider or juice
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ medium onion, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 slabs baby back ribs, preferably 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds each


  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme


  • 1 ½ cups apple cider or juice
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Apple City Apple Sauce (page 384), Espresso Barbecue Sauce (page 377), or Boydesque Brew (page 368)


  1. The night before you plan to barbecue, combine the soak ingredients in a large glass measuring cup.  Place the slabs of ribs in a plastic bag or shallow dish and pour the marinade over the ribs.  Refrigerate them overnight.
  2. Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 degrees F to 220 degrees F.
  3. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and drain them, discarding the marinade. In a bowl, mix the dry rub ingredients and pat the ribs with about half of the mixture.  Let the ribs sit at room temperature for 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. If you plan to baste the meat (see page 45, “To Mop or Not”), mix the cider, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan. Warm the mop liquid over low heat.
  5. Transfer the meat to the smoker. Cook the ribs for approximately 3 hours, turning and basting them with the mop every hour in a wood-burning pit or as appropriate in your style of smoker.  About 45 minutes before the ribs are done, brush them with your choice of sauce and repeat the step shortly before you remove the meat from the smoker.
  6. When the slabs are ready, the meat will bend easily between the ribs and the sauce will be gooey and sticky and caramelized in spots. Allow the slabs to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing them into individual ribs.  Serve with more sauce on the side.

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