Mostly Make-Ahead BBQ Ribs


This easy rib recipe delivers over-the-top flavor. 

Platter of BBQ ribs set on a yellow print tablecloth with green beans and a red beverage.
Photo: Greg DuPree
Hands On Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
7 hrs 35 mins

Homemade ribs are often more work than they're worth. Not so with this streamlined recipe, which produces super tender meat that's shellacked with sweet and tangy sauce. The key is first slowly baking the ribs in foil packets and then refrigerating them so they hold together on the grill. These can be made up to a day in advance, perfect for ensuring a truly relaxing weekend barbecue or holiday party. Before serving, just brush the ribs with a rich sauce and heat them up on the grill. Shopping tip: Look for pomegranate molasses in the specialty aisle at your grocery store, at Mediterranean markets, or online. It's worth seeking out for its floral, tangy notes. But, if you can't find it, substitute 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar.


  • 4 slabs baby back pork ribs (8 to 9 pounds total)

  • 2 ½ tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons. kosher salt, divided

  • 2 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2 cups tomato puree

  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses

  • ¼ cup honey

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

  • Canola oil, for grill grates


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Place each rib slab on a separate large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil (if you don't have heavy-duty foil, double up regular foil). Season ribs on both sides with 2½ tablespoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper. Fold each sheet of foil around each slab, crimping foil at the sides and top to seal completely. Place two rib packets on two baking sheets. Bake until ribs are fork-tender, about 2 hours.

  2. Remove ribs from oven and very carefully unseal each packet (the steam inside will be very hot). Let ribs cool in foil to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pour out any juices in packets, reseal foil, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

  3. Whisk tomato puree, pomegranate molasses, honey, vinegar, tomato paste, mustard, paprika, cayenne, and remaining 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium low; partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 2½ cups, about 15 minutes. Let sauce cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 24 hours.

  4. Preheat grill to medium-high (400 F to 450 F). Working in batches if needed, remove ribs from foil packets and place on oiled grill grates. Grill, flipping ribs and basting generously with sauce every 3 to 4 minutes, until ribs are hot, well-sauced, and browned and crisped in spots, 12 to 15 minutes total. Remove ribs from grill; let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Make Ahead

Bake the ribs and make the sauce the day before serving.

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