No. 239 & 240: Honey-Whiskey Barbecue Sauce & Oven Ribs

We purchased some delectable rib racks with the idea of making them for our guests last weekend. However, we never quite got around to them.

Suddenly we were faced with the reality of cooking them up on a weeknight.

Up until now, we had only made ribs on the gril and with 100 percent smokey, indirect heat. This also translated into a solid four-hour process.

We knew you could do them more quickly in the oven, but had never tried ... until Thursday.

Honey-Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

This sauce sounded yummy, and as a bonus it didn't involve a blender.


1/2 a sweet onion, sliced vertically into strips
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3/4 cup honey whiskey or bourbon
2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

To make

In a sauce pan; add the slice onions, smashed garlic and the whiskey. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the onions and garlic have softened, about 10 minutes.

Onions and bourbon

Meanwhile combine the homemade ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir well until all is combined.

Once the onions and garlic are softened, add the ketchup mixture. Stir and simmer for 20 minutes.

Simmering sauce

Pour the barbecue sauce into a mesh strainer that is set inside a large bowl. Remove and discard the garlic and onion pieces.

Barbecue container

Use right away in any recipe calling for barbecue sauce or cool and store in an airtight jar for up to two weeks.

Oven Ribs

In addition to a new cooking method, we also tried out a new rib rub below.


1 rack ribs
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

To make

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil.

Arrange the ribs, meat side up, in one layer on the prepared baking sheet and cover with rib rub (we do this 12-24 hours in advance). Place the ribs in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the ribs are very tender.

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Remove the ribs from the oven and place the slabs, meaty side down, on the grill and cook; about 5 to 10 minutes. You just want to get a nice char out the outside and the smokey flavor.

Remove the ribs from the grill and set aside to cool briefly before cutting between the ribs and serving. Serve with barbecue sauce, if desired.

The results

This sauce is really lovely. The onions and garlic are infused just enough and the other layers of flavor come together for a smokey and sweet treat. And it is sweet, so be warned.

As for the oven ribs, they came out nicely!

Final ribs

They were very tender, but a bit more dry than our usual smoked version. Part of the issue is that we didn't wrap them in foil in the oven, which might make a big difference.

Ultimately, I'd still go back to our default recipe and add this great sauce as a side. You can find our favorite ribs here and here:)

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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