Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe and Video

February 20, 2018

These Dr. Pepper Ribs are seasoned, smoked, and sauced with layers of delicious Dr. Pepper flavor.

Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs

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.

Dr Pepper Ribs Recipe

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.

Dr Pepper Smoked Ribs

Tools used in this recipe:

Smoker: Camp Chef SmokePro SG Pellet Grill
Wood: 50/50 blend of apple and hickory wood
Foil: Reynold’s Heavy Duty Foil (I use this stuff all the time on my grills)
Knife: Shun 12-inch Brisket Knife

Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs Video


Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe

4.67 from 12 votes
Smoked Dr Pepper Pork Ribs
Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
6 hrs
Total Time
6 hrs 15 mins

These Dr. Pepper Ribs are seasoned, smoked, and sauced with layers of delicious Dr. Pepper flavor.

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 6 people
  • 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
Braising Liquid
  • 8 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Buffalo sauce optional
  • 1 cup Dr. Pepper
BBQ Sauce
  • 1 cup Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce link in recipe notes
  • 1/2 cup Dr. Pepper
  1. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.

  4. Place the lids on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke for 3 hours.

  5. 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. 

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Return the ribs to the smoker at 225 degrees F for 2 more hours.

  9. 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.

  10. 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. 

  11. Carefully remove the ribs to a large cutting board. Slice and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Sweet BBQ Rub: The BEST Sweet Rub for Grilled Pork and Chicken
Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce: Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce



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16 thoughts on “Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe and Video

  1. I’m doing a grad party for my son and he want bbq for 75 ppl. I was going to do pulled pork, brisket and ribs for the meats. I was thinking the pork and brisket can cook together and then when there done I can put the briskets in a towel and cooler for 6 hours (too long ?) while I do the ribs (3 2 1 method) it will be a long day but does my math seem ok to you ?

    1. Sounds right to me! If I need the smoker space, I’ll plan to get brisket and pork off before getting ribs on. Worst case scenario, if your brisket and pork need a little longer, you can squish the ribs in next to them and let them get smoke during the first 3 hours. They can all cook at the same temp, so you should be fine either way. Good luck! It sounds like an amazing party!

    1. But JUST a BIT of liquid smoke!!!!

      You can also “cheat” smoke flavors by using smoked salts and smoked paprika. Sub about 1/3 of the salt, in a rub recipe, for smoked salt and then about 1/2 Sweet Paprika and 1/2 Smoked Paprika. If you want a bit of sweet and smoky heat, you can find Chipotle powder, which is a ripened, dried and.smoked jalapeno. It CAN deliver a kick, so adjust as necessary.

      Set up a roasting pan with a grate or a rack o er it, Pur a few cans of beer into the pan (when it’s in the oven) and set ribs over it. This creates a “beer sauna” and catches the drippings from the ribs too. Water works too.

  2. I’m thinking of doing a variant using boneless pork spare ribs. It seems like I could use a very similar method, but use temps instead of time. I would use the mustard and rub, then smoke until the meat is at about 165, then braise in a covered aluminum pan until they hit 195, then finish on the grill to set a final saucing. I would appreciate any thoughts on this.

      1. Cooked them last night–delicious. I ended up using country style ribs (the real loin cut, not the pretend ribs cut from a butt roast). Great smokey rib flavor, with tons of meat and no bones. It took the whole 3 hours to get up to 165. I braised them for 2 hours, but probably should have left them in longer. They weren’t quite up to 195 degrees, and probably would have been more tender if I had been more patient. I think I’m in love with country style ribs now.

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