Here at Tuff Guy T-Shirts, we like to consider ourselves rib masters and we have the reviews to back that title up! One of our favorite rib recipes is the Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs. They epitomize everything that ribs should be. A little sweet, covered in sauce and absolutely perfectly cooked. It’s a recipe that we’ve held close to the chest, but we’re sharing it with you today.
Cooking Ribs Basics
First of all, we need to get everyone on the same page when it comes to cooking ribs. Ribs should only be cooked on a grill; it’s just a fact. Please don’t put ribs in a crockpot, that is just rib murder.
When you smoke ribs or even cook them on a gas grill, you end up with ribs that have a nice color to them. You want color when you’re cooking ribs. When you cook ribs in the oven or crockpot, they turn out gray, and gray is just not an appetizing color. What is an appetizing color, is pink. A nice pink color is what you want and it doesn’t mean the meat is raw either, especially when you smoke ribs. When you see pink on smoked meats, it’s the smoke ring which means the smoke has penetrated through the meat.
Rib meat should be tender. You don’t want to overcook it and make it tough. Our secret ingredient is what makes these Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs so good, and the secret is right in the title. Dr. Pepper, it adds a great flavor and helps keep the meat moist in the final stages of cooking. Keeping the meat tender is also what helps it fall off the bone, which should be your goal with any ribs you make, so you want to make sure the ribs are cooked at a nice low temperature.
Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs
We’re going to explain how to cook the Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs, on a pellet smoker. If you are doing these ribs on a traditional smoker, you’ll just need to keep an eye on your firebox to make sure they cook on a low heat not to exceed 250 degrees in the beginning.
Before you start your ribs, you’ll want to turn your pellet smoker on to low smoke, if it does have a low smoke set it to 225 degrees. Let it heat up while you prepare your ribs.
You’ll start the ribs by bringing them up to room temperature. We do this by leaving them out on the counter for an hour or two before we plan on throwing them in the smoker. While you’re waiting for them to get up to room temperature you can cut and remove the thin membrane that is on the back of the ribs on the bone side. This helps to open up the meat and allows more smoke to get straight to the meat and avoids a tuff smoke layer developing on the membrane.
After the ribs are up to room temperature and the membrane is removed, you’ll want to season both sides of the ribs. We combine these ingredients and rub them into the meat, but really you can play with the spice you like and come up with your own flavor.
- dried ginger
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- sea salt
Once your ribs are rubbed down, you’ll place the ribs, meaty side up, on the pellet smoker. It can take 4-8 hours for Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs to finish. You’ll want to keep an eye on the ribs, but avoid lifting the lid too much. Every time you open the lid you lose heat and smoke, which is vital both for cooking and flavoring the ribs.
When you think the ribs are in the last hour of cooking (the meat is starting to pull back from the bone and are around 165 degrees) take them off the smoker and wrap the ribs in foil. Once you have the ribs laid in foil, you’ll add BBQ sauce on top. Be as generous as you want with the sauce. Also, add a little bit of the Dr. Pepper to the bottom of the foil. Finish covering the ribs in foil and put them back on the smoker.
We don’t usually check the temperature of ribs, but if it makes you feel better then make sure they reach an internal temperature of 165-195 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t want to check the temperature, look to see if the meat is beginning to separate from the bone. That will let you know that it’s fully cooked. You can also pick the rack of ribs up with a pair of tongs and if the ribs fold over slightly you know they are getting close, if they fold in half or pull apart they are way past done. if they have very little bend to them it means they need to cook longer.
Once the ribs have pulled away from the bone, take them out of the sauce and Dr Pepper tinfoil bath, flip them over, and add more BBQ sauce to the bottom side of the ribs. Increase the heat to high and let the BBQ sauce caramelize on the ribs, be sure not to let the sugary sauce burn on the surface of the ribs, you want it to caramelize, not burn.
Nothing is better than a hot, smoked, Dr. Pepper infused rib. We suggest pairing it with baked beans and macaroni and cheese, but any other comfort side will do!