These Bourbon Cranberry Baby Back Ribs are baked with a simple spice rub and then smothered with a bourbon cranberry BBQ sauce. They’re perfect for serving during the holiday season, but are delicious all winter long!
Baby back ribs are one of those foods I absolutely LOVE, but I never think to make when I’m meal planning for the week. That changes NOW.
Not only are they super easy to prep and cook, but there are so many different ways you can serve them, which means it’s basically impossible to get bored of them.
No matter what time of year you’re enjoying them, it’s easy to put a seasonal spin on baby back ribs! I made these delicious Watermelon Beer Baby Back Ribs a couple summers ago (in the Instant Pot!) and am now sharing a fabulous way you can enjoy ribs during the holiday season.
Of course, I’m not opposed to baby back ribs simply smothered in BBQ sauce at any time of year. But if you’re looking for a recipe that’s a little more unique and festive, you need to try these Bourbon Cranberry Baby Back Ribs!
Bourbon Cranberry Baby Back Ribs Recipe
These bourbon cranberry ribs are easy to make with two components to them. First is the spice rub and second is the bourbon cranberry BBQ sauce.
I used ingredients that give these ribs a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of a salty kick to appeal to all the senses.
The spice rub consists of brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, ginger, paprika, salt, and pepper.
Rub the racks of baby back ribs with the mixture, wrap tightly in foil, and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees.
While the ribs are cooking, whip up the bourbon cranberry sauce. It has a lot of ingredients, but it’s very easy to make.
You’ll just combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Then lower to a simmer and simmer for about 20 minutes while occasionally stirring, until cranberries are burst and sauce has thickened. Remove sauce to blender and puree.
If you’d rather not puree it, you can certainly use the bourbon cranberry sauce chunky, but I wanted a nice smooth BBQ-like sauce.
Once ribs are done cooking with the spice rub, remove from oven and brush with bourbon cranberry sauce (save some to serve on the side if you want).
Then put the ribs back in oven uncovered for about 30 more minutes, until ribs are tender (if you’re using a meat thermometer, they should register between 180-195 degrees).
If you want sauce to caramelize a bit, put ribs under the broiler for a couple minutes. I always like a little extra caramelization!
Sprinkle with green onions and serve with extra sauce on the side if you saved any.
Try not to eat the sauce with a spoon. Then again, go ahead and do it. You just made a delicious dinner; you’re allowed.
Cut racks into individual ribs and serve and enjoy! These are seriously perfectly cooked ribs and the sauce is deliciously sweet and savory all at once.
I’m excited to have another way to enjoy cranberries during the holiday season. Even if you’re not a big cranberry sauce person, I think you’ll like this bourbon cranberry BBQ sauce!
I’m not necessarily saying you should make these bourbon cranberry baby back ribs for Christmas dinner because how many people would actually serve ribs for Christmas dinner??
But I am saying you should make them during the holiday season and enjoy them for a festive meal. They’re also pretty fabulous for serving at holiday parties. The vibrant red and green colors make them feel especially holiday-ish.
But really, bourbon cranberry ribs are perfect for enjoying all winter long. After all, cranberries are more than just a holiday food. And bourbon is certainly more than just a holiday drink.
And I really can’t decide if I like baby back ribs better during the summer or the winter. In some ways there’s nothing quite like eating grilled ribs on the deck in the heat of summer.
But there’s also something to be said for cozying up by a fire and enjoying a rack of ribs in the winter. Bottom line? There’s no bad time for ribs.
Do you ever incorporate cranberries into your savory winter meals?
If you’re looking for more savory ways to enjoy cranberries this season, try my Cranberry Hummus and my Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Relish Grilled Cheese. I also can’t wait to try this Cranberry Glazed Pork Roast from The View from Great Island!
Bourbon Cranberry Baby Back Ribs
- 2 racks (4-5 lbs) babyback ribs
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
- 1 12-oz. bag fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste (can also use ketchup)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees and line two baking sheets with foil.
- If your ribs have the “silverskin” membrane on them (will be on the back bone side), remove by sliding your finger or a small knife underneath and gently pulling it away (see notes section for more details). Cut racks of ribs in half if necessary for the size of your baking sheets.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, ginger, paprika, salt and pepper. Rub both sides of ribs with the seasoning.
- Place ribs meaty side up on baking sheets and tightly cover in foil. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
- While ribs are in the oven, make bourbon cranberry sauce.
- Remove ribs from oven and brush with bourbon cranberry sauce. Place back in oven, uncovered for about 30 more minutes, until ribs are tender (if you're using a meat thermometer, they should register between 180-195 degrees). If you want sauce to caramelize a bit, put ribs under the broiler for a couple minutes.
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes while occasionally stirring, until cranberries are burst and sauce has thickened. Remove sauce to blender and puree.
- For more info. on removing the silverskin from ribs, see here.