These Dr. Pepper Ribs are seasoned, smoked, and sauced with layers of delicious Dr. Pepper flavor.
Dr. Pepper ribs aren’t a new phenomenon, but after looking around, I wasn’t able to find any great recipes where people had smoked them! The flavors of smoked pork and Dr. Pepper are a match made in heaven, so I set to work crafting the best possible way to make it happen.
How to Make Dr. Pepper Ribs:
This Dr. Pepper rib recipe is based off of a fairly traditional method for cooking ribs, 3-2-1 (I talk about this method in much more detail HERE). Basically, the ribs start out cooking for 3 hours exposed to smoked, 2 hours in a braising liquid, and 1 hour back on the smoker, typically slathered with sauce. By using this method, I was able to ensure perfectly tender and juicy ribs while also infusing that Dr. Pepper flavor into each step!
In the recipe below, you’ll see that I included an optional addition to the seasoning of cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes in the rub as well as hot sauce in the braising liquid. Adding those in will definitely make these Spicy Dr. Pepper Ribs, but including them is completely up to you. The heat is definitely noticeable, but I think it is a perfect complement to the super sweet Dr. Pepper braise and sauce.
You’ll also notice that I’m using homemade rubs and sauces. I’ve always got batches of my Homemade Sweet BBQ Rub and Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce on hand, so it is really simple for me to use those. However, if you have a favorite store bought BBQ rub or sauce, feel free to substitute those in the recipe!
Final note: This recipe is written and intended for baby back ribs. The time recommendations are a guideline. If your ribs are really thick or thin, you may need to adjust your cooking time accordingly. If you are cooking St. Louis spare ribs, you will most likely need to increase your braising time, so your overall time will go 3-3-1. My biggest recommendation is to watch your bones during the braising step. You want your rib meat to be pulling away from the rib bones and your ribs to be pliable and tender, without shredding apart.
Tools used in this recipe:
Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe
Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs
- 2 racks baby back ribs
- 4 Tablespoons yellow mustard
- 4 Tablespoons Homemade Sweet BBQ Rub (link in recipe notes)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 8 Tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Buffalo sauce (optional)
- 1 cup Dr. Pepper
- 1 cup Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce (link in recipe notes)
- 1/2 cup Dr. Pepper
- Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F.
- Remove the membranes from the back side of the ribs by wiggling the tip of a butter knife under the membrane and then pulling back with a paper towel. Slather the ribs on all sides with the yellow mustard. Season on all sides with the sweet rub.
- If you want your ribs to have some heat, combine the crushed red pepper flakes and the cayenne pepper. Sprinkle on all sides of the ribs.
- Place the lids on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke for 3 hours.
- Prepare for the braising step by laying out two large sheets of heavy duty foil on a flat surface. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar down the center of each sheet of aluminum foil. Top the brown sugar with 2 Tablespoons of butter, cut into small pads. Pour 1 Tablespoon of the Buffalo sauce on top of the butter and brown sugar.
- Remove the ribs from the smoker and place each rack meat side down on top of the brown sugar, butter, and Buffalo Sauce. Top the bone sides of each rack of ribs with the remaining brown sugar, butter, and Buffalo sauce.
- Fold up the ends and sides of the foil before pouring 1/2 cup of Dr. Pepper over each rack of ribs. Tightly crimp and seal the foil around the ribs.
- Return the ribs to the smoker at 225 degrees F for 2 more hours.
- Carefully drain the foil pouches into a bowl or large measuring pitcher and then remove the ribs from the foil pouches and place back on the smoker. Discard the foil and liquid.
- In a bowl, combine the BBQ sauce and the Dr. Pepper. Brush the sauce liberally all over the smoked ribs. Close the lid on the smoker and continue smoking at 225 degrees F for 1 more hour, or until the sauce has set and the meat has pulled back about 1/2 inch from the bones and the ribs are pliable and tender.
- Carefully remove the ribs to a large cutting board. Slice and serve immediately.