Main Dishes

Grilled Ribs with Tangy Maple Basting Sauce

Nothing says summer like grilled ribs with a maple-vinegar mop sauce. Here’s our favorite north-meets-south grilled ribs recipe.

By Yankee Magazine

Apr 09 2017


Grilled Ribs with Tangy Maple Basting Sauce

Photo Credit : Keller + Keller

This north-meets-south dish layers sweet-tart flavors on ribs with a maple-vinegar mop sauce. Boston pitmaster Andy Husbands cooks his ribs over a two-zone fire: hot on one side, cooler on the other (“cooler” being a relative term here). The ribs are placed away from the coals, allowing them to cook through without burning.

Note: St. Louis–style pork ribs are spareribs that are trimmed to create a rectangular shape, which allows for more consistent browning and even cooking. You can substitute regular spareribs or baby back ribs, which are more commonly available but leaner and less meaty. Spareribs normally take up tohours to cook, but marinating them in an acidic sauce tenderizes the meat and speeds up cooking time. If using baby back ribs, check for doneness after 1 hour.


4 to 6 servings

For the ribs:


1 rack (2½–3 pounds) St. Louis–style pork ribs (see note)


First, prep your ribs: Using a paper towel, pull the opaque membrane off the back of the ribs to expose the meat. Rinse the ribs with cold water and place on a sheet pan.

For the basting sauce:


½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup water
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon toasted ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt


Next, make the basting sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Brush the ribs generously on both sides with the sauce, and refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the spice rub.

For the spice rub:


¼ cup paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
½ tablespoon ground coriander
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon curry powder


Prepare your grill for two-zone grilling (see Setting Up the Grill | Charcoal Grilling Tips). When the temperature reaches about 350°, clean the grill grate. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and re-baste with any sauce that has accumulated on the sheet pan. Sprinkle the ribs all over with 2 tablespoons of the dry rub, and place them near but not directly over the fire. Cover the grill and cook for 1 hour; if using charcoal, maintain a consistent temperature by adding a large handful of briquettes midway through cooking. After 70 minutes, test the ribs for doneness (they should tear apart easily). If not done, cook an additional 15 minutes, then test again.

Remove the ribs from the grill and sprinkle generously with the remaining dry rub. Slice and serve.