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Smoked Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs

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Oh my! Words cannot describe how absolutely delicious Smoked Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs are! The ribs are cooked nice and slow which results in meat that falls right off the bone. You may also be happy to learn they are naturally gluten-free!

Use this smoking technique for nearly any type of pork ribs, e.g., baby back, St. Louis, and/or spare ribs.

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New Hobby!

Recently my husband has taken up a new hobby. Rather than simply grilling, he is trying his hand using a smoker to smoke a variety of meats. Although his grilling ability is exceptional, his techniques have improved with time and experience. By far, Smoked Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs are the most requested food he made to-date!

Baby Back Ribs

Although baby back ribs are more expensive, they are by far our favorite type of ribs. I am a very frugal person, so if I suggest the more expensive option, you know it’s going to be worth it!

You will also notice a difference in quality between a grocery store versus a butcher shop. Therefore we usually buy baby back ribs fresh from a local butcher shop.

Removing membrane from ribs

One key to tender ribs is to remove membranes from the underside.

Preparing the Ribs for Cooking

Remove the ribs from the packaging. If you notice they are a little slimy, wipe them down with a paper towel. Cut off any extra meat or skin flaps that are loosely connected (if you leave them on they will burn while cooking).

Baby back ribs have an attached membrane. If the membrane is not removed before cooking, the ribs will be chewy and hard to separate.

Removing membrane from ribs

Removing the membrane from the underside.

The easiest way to remove the membrane is to use a butter knife. To loosen the membrane, run the edge of the butter knife underneath it. 

Removing membrane from ribs

Remove the membrane.

When you have one edge of the membrane loosened, slowly lift up to tear the membrane away from the ribs. If you have difficulty holding onto the membrane simply use a paper towel to grab it. Once detached, discard the membrane.

Removing membrane from ribs

The ribs on the left show the membrane removed. The ribs on the right show the membrane still attached to the ribs.

In the picture above, the ribs on the left show the membrane removed and the ribs on the right show the membrane attached. You can see that the attached membrane appears wet and shiny. 

Mustard binding agent on ribs

Mustard acts as a binding agent for the spices.

The next step is to slather mustard all over the surface of the ribs. Make sure mustard covers EVERYTHING, including the ends and rib tips. Don’t worry… the mustard simply acts as a binding tool and the flavor does cook-off. I promise these ribs do not taste like mustard!

Mustard binding agent on ribs

Mustard slathered all over the ribs.

Next, generously sprinkle the ribs with your favorite seasonings. My husband and I recommend John Henry’s Pecan Rub or  Three Little Pigs BBQ Rub. We have used both and LOVE both!  Finally, drizzle honey over the top.

Seasoned baby back ribs

Generously season your ribs and let sit overnight.

Cover your ribs and refrigerate overnight or for a full 24 hours. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and allow them to reach room temperature before cooking.

Smoked Ribs

Cook the ribs meat side down (bone side up) for 3 hours, then flip them over.

Cooking the Ribs

You can use whatever smoker you have access to. My husband uses a Brinkman Vertical Charcoal Smoker

He likes to use lump charcoal and cherry wood chips and keeps the smoker at a consistent 225 degrees for four hours. Every hour, he adds more wood chips to keep the smoke at just the right temperature.

He also uses a 50/50 mixture of water and apple juice in his water pan (this is important to keep the smoke ‘we’t so the ribs don’t dry out while cooking).

Cook with the meat side down, bone side up. After cooking for 3 hours, flip the ribs and brush on your favorite BBQ sauce. We like to use Grandma King’s Homemade BBQ Sauce (which is delicious and happens to be gluten-free). 

Allow the Smoked Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs to cook for another hour. 

Smoked Ribs

At hour 3 BBQ sauce was brushed onto the ribs and smoked for another hour.

My mouth is seriously watering just looking at these pictures!!

After four hours of cooking time, remove Smoked Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs from the smoker. Place the ribs into a pan and cover the pan with foil. Next, bake them in the oven for an additional 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

We like our ribs to fall off the bone so bake them until the meat easily pulls away from the bones. NOTE: If you like chewy ribs then skip the baking step. 


Finally, drizzle honey and more BBQ sauce on top of the ribs and serve them up hot.

Smoked Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs



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Thanks for sharing!

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Simon Vanbecelaere May 22, 2020, 9:44 am
    Hey, love this recipe and the pictures belonging to them. Did you know they are circulating all over the internet? Don't think all of them have permision to do so? Just wanted to inform you since I'm dealing with the same problem. Cheers, Simon
  • Chris Dolbeare April 29, 2018, 5:17 pm
    Just used this recipe today and it was phenomenal! I did add a twist at the end by drizzling a mix of honey with a pinch of brown sugar on it....WOW!!!! Thanks for posting this????
  • Warren B June 19, 2014, 10:48 am
    Oh lordy these look amazing! I just got a propane smoker last week, I think these are on the schedule for the weekend (I'll have to do the marinade tomorrow!). I tried to do ribs last year, without doing much research, and I left the membrane on the meat. Mistake. I wish I had read this information before, hopefully it turns out a little better this year! My Profile
  • Tammy @ creativekkids March 16, 2014, 8:04 pm
    Those look great! Thank you for the wonderful tutorial as well! Thanks for linking up with the Tasty Tuesday's Link-up. I have pinned your post to the Tasty's Tuesday's Pinterest Board!
    • Blessed Beyond Crazy March 17, 2014, 6:32 pm
      Hey Tammy, thanks for stopping by and thanks for pinning!

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