Dr. Pepper Smoked Ribs

December 28, 2020

These Dr. Pepper Ribs are seasoned, smoked, and sauced with layers of delicious Dr. Pepper flavor. They’re super sweet with just a kiss of heat — everything you love in a sticky lick-your-fingers rib!

Sauced and smoked Dr. Pepper ribs stacked on a wooden cutting board. Text overlay reads: Sweet and Sticky Dr. Pepper Smoked Ribs

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 cooked them on a smoker! There are a handful of recipes for cooking Dr. Pepper ribs in a crockpot, but here at Hey Grill Hey, we’re all about those tasty, good smoked flavors.

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. When choosing a wood to use to smoke these ribs, a fruit wood will compliment the Dr. Pepper well. Cherry is my first choice, then apple, maple, pecan, and finally alder.

Two racks of seasoned Dr. Pepper ribs on the grill grates of a smoker.

How to Make Dr. Pepper Ribs

This Dr. Pepper rib recipe is based off of a fairly traditional way of cooking ribs using the 3-2-1 method (I talk about this method in much more detail in my recipe post for 3-2-1 Smoked Ribs). The ribs start out cooking for 3 hours exposed to smoke, 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!

For those of you who like a little extra heat in your ribs (this is awesome to balance the super sweet Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce), you can season the ribs with 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 spicier, 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.

The rubs and sauces in this recipe can be made using recipes on my site, or you can purchase them delivered straight to you from Patio Provisions. If you don’t have any rubs or sauces on hand, you can always make them yourself using my recipes for Homemade Sweet BBQ Rub and Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce. However, if you have a favorite store bought BBQ rub or sauce, feel free to substitute those in the recipe!

Gray basting brush brushing Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce on a rack of ribs on the grill grates of a smoker.

How Long to Smoke Dr. Pepper Ribs

This recipe is written and intended for baby back ribs. As with all my recipes on this site, the time recommendations are a guideline. Each cut of meat will cook differently, and smoke times may vary from one smoker to another. Make sure you have an instant read thermometer on hand to monitor the temperature of your ribs so you’ll know when to pull them off the heat.

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.

Braised and sauced Dr. Pepper ribs on the grill grates of a smoker.

More Smoked Ribs Recipes

I like to play around with big flavors in my smoked ribs. Dr. Pepper ribs are only a stepping stone onto more diverse and tasty ribs. Try out some of my other popular rib recipes below!

Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe

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Dr. Pepper Smoked Ribs

These Dr. Pepper Ribs are seasoned, smoked, and sauced with layers of delicious Dr. Pepper flavor.
4.91 from 11 votes
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 6 hrs
Resting Time : 15 mins
Total Time : 6 hrs 30 mins
Servings : 6 people
Calories : 449kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 4 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons Signature Sweet Rub
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Dr. Pepper Braising Liquid

  • 8 Tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Buffalo sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup Dr. Pepper

Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup Everything Sauce (or your favorite ketchup-based BBQ sauce)
  • ½ cup Dr. Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F. 
  • Prep and season the ribs. 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. 
  • Add some heat! 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.
  • Smoke the ribs. Place the lids on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke for 3 hours.
  • Make the braising liquid. 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. 
  • Add the ribs to the braising liquid. 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.
  • Smoke for 2 hours. Return the ribs to the smoker at 225 degrees F for 2 more hours.
  • Drain the braising liquid. Remove the braising ribs from the smoker. Carefully drain the foil pouches into a bowl or large measuring pitcher and then remove the ribs from the foil pouches. Discard the foil and liquid.
  • Make the BBQ sauce and finish smoking. 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. 
  • Rest, slice and serve. Carefully remove the ribs to a large cutting board. Rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 449kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 467mg | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 42IU | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1mg
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**This post was originally published in February 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

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