Firecracker Ribs

We celebrated Independence Day in the Black hills of South Dakota. It was a great day to be out and about around here. There was a whole days worth of activities going on at Mount Rushmore, with fireworks and the President speaking. We decided to cruise around town in our UTV and take in the festivities from a distance.

The next day, we decided to stay home to celebrate our son’s 13th birthday and cook. Some baby back ribs were a perfect choice for a late lunch. Smoking ribs is as 4th of July as fireworks. So this week I am featuring a crowd favorite around my house. These semi-spicy baby backs will have you and your crew singing the National Anthem on the first bite!

We start out with a couple of racks of baby back pork ribs from the local butcher. We like to rinse them off and pat dry out of the package. Then we remove the thin membrane off the back of the bones.

After they are nice and dry, we add a little rub. Sometimes people go for a little mustard or maybe even some oil before applying the rub, but we just went straight rub for this recipe. I like to go with the 2 Gringos Chupacabra original rub. I also went with a light coating, and didn’t really focus on covering every spot. Believe it or not, I think you can overdo it on the rub, so go light for once, and try it out!

Now, let’s get the kettle set up. One of the best, inexpensive, and easy methods of smoking on the Webber kettle, is the snake method. This is where you take two rows of charcoal and place them around the edge of the kettle, kind of like dominos, with the coals just touching the next.

After going around the kettle about 3/4 the way, stack one layer of coals on the top, then add some of your favorite wood chips/chunks for smoking. We went with some apple wood for our firecracker ribs. Light about 6-7 coals and when they are ready, place them at the front of your snake.

We don’t have any fancy racks, so we just place the ribs on the opposite side of the fire. This setup should result in a cook temp of around 225-250 degrees, with the vents all open. We cooked the ribs for 2 1/2 hours, checking them about every 45 minutes, and spritzing them each time with a little apple cider vinegar.

I have found that the easiest way to move the meat around to stay opposite of the fire, is to just scoot the grates around when checking and spritzing the ribs. Also, we did not really worry about internal temp at this point. Just let the ribs hang out for the 2 1/2 hours at 250 degrees and you’ll be fine.

After the 2 1/2 hour mark, its time to add a little more flavor, and wrap the ribs. Now, they are not called “firecracker ribs” for nothing. We laid the ribs down on some foil, and hit them with some butter, brown sugar, and a good dowsing of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

I like to place them, meat-side-up, then add the butter, brown sugar, hot sauce, then flip. Then I just added some more of the hot sauce to the bottom before wrapping them up, individually.

The ribs go back on the kettle for another 1 1/2 hours, or until you hit 200 degrees internal temp. I like to check the temp after about an hour in, and then about every 15 minutes until I hit the 200 mark.

At 200 degrees, unwrap the ribs and place them back on the kettle. We gave these a good “shellacking” of Sweet Baby Ray’s Spicy BBQ Sauce and letting them cook for just another 15-20 minutes.

The end result is a sweet-heat, smokey flavor on a rib that has just a little pull when coming clean off the bone. And don’t be too worried about the hot sauce heat. It calms way down and blends well with the addition of the butter and brown sugar combination.

Now, there’s a reason to celebrate freedom… sweet-heat, baby back ribs freedom!

Firecracker Ribs

TK's take on the classic smoked baby back ribs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 5 people


  • Webber Kettle


  • 2 racks Ribs
  • 1/4 cup 2 Gringo's Chupacabra Original Rub
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray's Spicey BBQ Sauce


  • Take ribs out of packaging, rinse and pat dry. Turn over and peel off the membrane from the rib bones.
  • Lightly dust the ribs with the dry rub. Don't overdo it with the rub on this one.
  • Set up the charcoal snake method in the kettle, and get the fire going with 6-7 of ready coals.
  • Place ribs on grate, opposite of the fired coals. Cook for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Place ribs on foil and add the butter, brown sugar, and hot sauce, then wrap and place back on kettle.
  • Cook ribs in foil wrap for another 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temp hits 200 degrees.
  • Unwrap ribs and liberally coat with bbq sauce. We like Sweet Baby Rays. Then cook another 15-20 minutes unwrapped.
  • Place on cutting board, cut in individual rib bones and enjoy!
Keyword babybacks, pork, ribs