No. 159: Herb-Rubbed Ribs with Honey-Lemon Glaze

The World Cup is here!

To celebrate the first full weekend of games, we invited friends over for a delicious recipe round up (see posts 156-161). Though of course the main attraction would of course be the grill and futbol!

Speaking of futbol, have you seen this terrific Hyundai World Cup ad? Hilarious.

Herb-Rubbed Ribs with Honey-Lemon Glaze

We have a tried and true rib rub that we adore, but wanted to branch out and try something very new. Fine Cooking's Grilling magazine provided Mr. McC with some inspiration.

Grilling inspiration


For the rub
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon crumbled dried rosemary
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seed
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion

For the glaze
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

To make

Combine all rub ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

New rub

Six to twenty-four hours before cooking ribs, remove from packaging and place on a large baking sheet. Be sure to remove the silver skin if a butcher has not already.

Apply a thin layer of yellow mustard to the ribs. This will give rub a surface to adhere to, and the mustard will leave no flavor. Apply rub to all areas of the ribs, patting firmly to make sure it adheres. Get all those nooks and crannies.

Rubbing ribs

Wrap rubbed ribs in cling wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking.

Cook ribs on indirect heat in a smoker or grill. Start with charcoal and then add dry and soaked hickory (or cherry, mesquite or apple wood) throughout the cooking process. The goal is to maintain 225 degrees of heat consistently to the meat, as well as smoke. You can use a meat thermometer or your grill thermometer to ensure temperature. During this cooking time, assemble your glaze and set aside.

After 2 hours, remove ribs to a baking sheet. Pour any juice from the ribs into the bowl with the glaze and stir to combine. Use this combination to thoroughly glaze the ribs. Then wrap them in foil and place back on the grill on indirect heat. Continue to glaze every 15-20 minutes until they are sizzling and have a nice lacquered finish, about 45 minutes to an hour more.

Finished ribs should have an internal temperature of 180-185 degrees. The temperature will climb once removed from the grill and while they are resting. Let ribs rest in foil for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve with remaining glaze for dipping.

The results

We made several racks of ribs with this new rub and the old tried and true version. I polled the group for which rib was better. No one was willing to vote. They liked both for very different reasons.

I'll admit, I was relieved. I felt the exact same way.

Final ribs

(Herb-rubbed ribs in the foreground. Old school ribs in the background.)

Our usual go-to rub is perfect for those who love spice, heat and ribs. It's classic brown sugar, cayenne, chili powder, pepper goodness.

In stark contrast, this herb rub was earthy, grainy and tangy with the lemon and honey glaze finishing it off sweetly. It is a soft, lovely flavor on the ribs and offered relief from the spice of our other version.

My only tweak in the future would be to start glazing the ribs about 30 minutes earlier. We got a hint of the honey-lemon glaze in the flavor, but I would have loved a bit more.

Try both at home and see which you like better. I love both:) But this success definitely gave us some faith in branching out and trying different rub variations in the future.

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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina