Smoky Stone Fruit and Bourbon BBQ Ribs: Sweet, sticky, fall-off-the-bone ribs for all your summertime needs

Pass the napkins.

Pass the napkins

(Photography by Michael Gozum)

Don’t be intimidated by ribs — they’re actually very easy to prepare. They just need to be cooked low and slow to achieve that signature fall-off-the-bone goodness. Back ribs are a great choice because they’re meaty and a more tender cut, but side ribs are also a good option and very economical. Cut the ribs into single portions to serve as part of a BBQ buffet or an appetizer, or portion racks into entrée servings. Either way serve with extra BBQ sauce on the side for dipping... and lots of wet towelettes!

Smoky Stone Fruit and Bourbon BBQ Ribs

Note: When stone fruit is not in season, frozen sliced peaches are a great substitute.


BBQ Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp picked fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Dijon
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups assorted pitted, peeled and chopped peaches, plums and apricots
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup honey bourbon or Canadian Whisky
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar


  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 racks (about 2.5 kg) pork back ribs


BBQ Sauce:

Melt butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme and ginger. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in brown sugar, honey, tomato paste, paprika, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes or until a deep caramel colour. Add peaches, plums and apricots; stir to coat. Pour in tomatoes, whiskey and vinegar. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or fruit is soft, and sauce is thick. Cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully transfer to a blender, top with lid and remove vent plug. Drape a kitchen towel over blender and puree on high speed until smooth. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree until very smooth.) Cool completely. BBQ sauce can be stored in an air-tight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 1 month. Makes 5 cups.


Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Stir brown sugar with smoked paprika, thyme, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle all over ribs; massage into meat. Lay each rack out on a layer of heavy-duty foil; wrap tightly. Arrange, side by side, on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 2 hours or until very tender. Remove from oven. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Unwrap and discard foil and any juices. Ribs can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat; grease the grates well. Brush each rib rack lightly with BBQ sauce and arrange on grill; reduce heat to medium. Grill, turning and basting often, for 20 minutes or until ribs are caramelized and lightly charred in places. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into single bone portions. Serve with additional BBQ Sauce on the side for dipping.   

Yield: Makes 6-8 servings

Sabrina is owner and Chief Culinary Officer of SF Creative Culinary Services, an all-inclusive content marketing agency, based just outside Toronto serving food & beverage brands all over the world. Follow along on Instagram @sf_creativeculinaryservices


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