Five-Pepper Ribs with Peach-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

4th of July, Cook, Dinner, Mains, Recipes

Happy Fourth of July! If you’re planning to have friends over, fire up the grill and make these ribs, rubbed with paprika and black, ancho, chipotle and cayenne peppers for maximum flavor. Peach nectar in the barbecue sauce adds a hint of sweet southern flavor. A pan of steaming water in the grill helps to keep the ribs moist and meaty. If you like, you can replace the St. Louis–style spareribs with 2 slabs of baby back ribs, which will take a little less time to cook because they are smaller.


Five-Pepper Ribs with Peach-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce




For the barbecue sauce:

  • 2 cups (16 oz./500 g) ketchup
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) peach nectar
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) bourbon
  • 4 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs. dark (not blackstrap) molasses
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


For the rub:

  • 2 Tbs. sweet paprika, preferably smoked
  • 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic granules


For the ribs:

  • 2 slabs St. Louis–style pork spareribs, about 2 lb. (1 kg) each
  • About 12 large handfuls wood chips or chunks




1. To make the barbecue sauce, in a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Use immediately, or let cool, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 1 month. (If the sauce has been refrigerated, reheat over low heat before using.)


2. To make the rub, in a small bowl combine all of the ingredients. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.


3. Using a small knife, lift up a corner of the sheer white membrane that covers the underside of a slab of ribs. Grab the corner with a paper towel (the towel provides a good grip) and pull upward. The membrane should begin to lift away, at which point you should be able pull it off in a single, sharp motion. Generously coat the ribs all over with the seasoning mixture. Wrap the slabs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours.


4. Heat a smoker to 250°F (120°C), or heat a grill for medium-low indirect heat (250° to 275°F/120° to 135°C). If using charcoal, wrap the wood chips in several perforated aluminum foil packets and place one packet on the hot coals, or place a handful of wood chunks directly on the coals. If using a gas grill, wrap the chips in several perforated foil packets and put one packet directly over one of the gas burners under the cooking grate. Or if your grill has a smoker box, use it.


5. Brush the grill grate. Place an aluminum foil pan of hot water on the grate on the heated side of the grill. Put the ribs, meaty side down, on the grate away from the fire. If you have a rib rack, stand the ribs in the rack. Cover the grill and cook the ribs, rotating them 180 degrees once or twice for even cooking, until they are tender and the meat starts to pull back from the ends of the bones, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If you are using charcoal, you will need to replace the coals about once an hour during cooking. Whenever the wood stops smoking, add another foil packet of chips or handful of chunks. Refill the water pan with hot water as needed to keep the pan from going dry. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay around 375°F (190°C).


6. During the last 15 minutes, brush the ribs with some of the sauce every 5 minutes or so. If cooking directly on the grill grate rather than with a rib rack, brush the bone side of the ribs with the sauce and then flip and cook that side until lightly browned. Brush the meat side and then flip and cook that side until lightly browned. Continue brushing and cooking until the ribs are nicely glazed with sauce and the meat side is face up.


7. Transfer the ribs to a platter and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes. Cut the ribs into 3- to 4-bone servings or cut into individual ribs. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side. Serves 4 to 6.


Grill School Bookcover


For this recipe and other secrets on how to make fabulous food
on the grill, check out our essential guide to cooking on fire,
Grill School, by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim.





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