Cork and Knife

Our new cookbook is out now — and its focus is one of our favorite ingredients: booze! We show you how to use the cooking properties of beer, wine, bourbon and more to make your dishes pop!

Baby Back Ribs With Coffee-Honey Barbecue Sauce

You, yes YOU, can make oven-baked ribs. And even better, you can slather those ribs all over with coffee-honey barbecue sauce. Prepare to be popular. 

It’s been a bit of a crazy summer here at Nerds Towers. (Note: our house is not actually called “Nerds Towers” – that was a humorous attempt to make our residence sound grander than it really is. We don’t have any towers. We have a shed that may fall down at any moment.) With all the excitement, we clean forgot until the very end of summer to make ribs. We waited until Labor Day, reader. UNTIL LABOR DAY.

We did this last summer too. All season we made burgers and hot dogs and skewers of various things and forgot all about the number one best summer hang-out food of all time. Then, at the very end of the season, we cooked up a big batch of porcine deliciousness and gave ourselves a thorough kicking for all the rib-enjoying opportunities we’d passed up.

Baby Back Ribs With Coffee-Honey Barbecue Sauce

We were tempted to drink this Coffee-Honey Barbecue Sauce. It was that good.

The nice thing about this recipe is that because they are mostly cooked in the oven, you can make them ALL YEAR ROUND. Yes, I said the oven.

Are you okay? Do you need to sit down? You look a little shocked.

Let me explain. The thing with ribs is they need to be cooked low and slow and unless you are a pit master [We are not pit masters. Our grill is feeble and may fall down at any moment. You may be noticing a trend here. – Matt], that is a very tricky thing to do on a grill. It takes an enormous amount of attention to keep the temperature at that sweet spot so why not let the oven do that work for you?

The one thing you will need to do for this recipe is plan ahead. You’ll need to cook them (low and slow) for a couple of hours and then let them marinate in the sauce at least overnight (though 2 days is even better). Then you can cook them on a higher heat (in the oven or on the grill) and glaze them until they are burnished and sticky and perfect.

Note: We love this barbecue sauce so we always make extra and use it on basically everything until it’s gone.

Baby Back Ribs With Coffee-Honey Barbecue Sauce

Baby Back Ribs With Coffee-Honey Barbecue Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • (For the barbecue sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed or neutral oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • ½ cup espresso or strong brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ½ cup hoisin
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons sriracha
  • (For the ribs)
  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. For the barbecue sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the espresso, vinegar, ketchup, honey, soy sauce, hoisin, and sriracha, and a grind or two of black pepper and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. You should wind up with about 2 cups of sauce. NOTE: Sauce can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
  2. For the ribs: Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Remove the thin membrane on the bone side of the ribs. Place the ribs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and generously season both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Bake for 2½ half hours then remove from the oven and let cool.
  3. When the ribs are cool enough to handle, cut each rack in half and place in a resealable plastic bag. Pour half the barbecue sauce into a measuring cup and thin with a a tablespoon or two of water and then divide it between the two bags, making sure the ribs are coated evenly on all sides. Place the bags in the refrigerator to marinate at least overnight but for up to two days. Turn the bags a few times so they marinate evenly.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and remove ribs from refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Place the ribs on a baking sheet lined in heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 45 minutes brushing them with some of the sauce every 10 minutes, until they are heated through and glazed.
  5. (Alternately, you could grill the ribs over a charcoal or gas barbecue until hot, glazing them with sauce on each side).
  6. Cut the racks into individual ribs and serve with the reserved sauce.