Blackberry Glazed Ribs

The succulence of the ribs enrobed in the blackberry glaze is undeniably summer on a plate! The right amount of spice, smoke and sticky-sweet makes this a go to recipe for all occasions.

Blackberry Glazed Ribs by Cakewalker

Spring has sprung and how I was reminded of it this past weekend! Sunny blue skies and highs in the upper 70s made an ideal setting to venture out into the yard to get my hands dirty. It had been 5 months since I picked up a garden tool, started the mower or let the irrigation system run. Yes, life in NorCal is like that: 5 months of exterior dormancy.Rib Preparation

The attention grabber which waved a green flag to get on with it was the grass―it had perked up and started to grow. Or was it the weeds that were about to set flowers? Either way it wasn’t raining, it wasn’t cold and I was eager to reacquaint myself with the garden. I get my best thinking done outdoors in the yard.

Blacberry Sauce Ingredients

A quick garden tour writes the task list. I knew I had fresh gas for the power tools, but would all the sprinklers spray or shoot a geyser instead? Will the broadcast spreader release fertilizer? And the mystery of mysteries: How much line is left on the spool for the line trimmer? By appearances sake, all systems were a go. I must have realized last fall I’d want to get right to business in the spring without having to stop down, tune-up and tinker.

Simmering Blackberry Glaze by Cakewalker

I’ve had the same mower for 9 years. Sure, I’ve changed some parts out but nothing major. We have a mutual respect: I winterize it every year by letting the gas run dry to clear the lines. Then in the spring fresh gas is supplied, the carburetor is primed and in two pulls or less she fires up. Respect is a good thing.

Tools of the Trade

Essential BBQ gear: Sunglasses, tongs and a beer!

Working from front to back, I was coming around the side gate towards the rear when I was pleasantly reminded about one of the greatest joys of spring and summer. On a terraced corner of the lot all bundled up under its charcoal gray cover was the barbecue. And for every pass to and fro across the lawn, I’d glance over at the sheathed cookery. 

I hadn’t noticed almost 2 hours had passed, but I was aware of the midday sun and the thirst which followed. My hands were dirty, leg and back muscles were worked like they hadn’t been in 5 months and I had plenty of me time to think―about the evening meal. 


Baste and Cut

Blackberry Glazed Pork Baby Back Ribs

There are many methods to prepare ribs and I’ve used several over the years: From the die-hard barbecue technique of low-n-slow over indirect charcoals, with/without rubs, wood chips, wrapped in foil or not are some. Whether started in the oven or par boiled and finished on the grill or not, I’ve tried them. The following directives are how I made the ribs depicted in this post: pre-baked in the oven then finished on the barbecue. If you have a favorite method of preparation, go for it; just skip ahead to step 7 and pick up at the part about glazing the ribs. I will tell you these ribs were tasty, tender and juicy!

Blackberry Glazed Baby Back Ribs by Cakewalker


Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: Serves 6 to 8


The succulence of the ribs enrobed in the blackberry glaze is undeniably summer on a plate! The right amount of spice, smoke and sticky-sweet makes this a go to recipe for all occasions.

Try pairing these ribs with a garden salad of mixed greens and this tasty herbal vinaigrette recipe.

The glaze is adapted from Sunset Magazine, July 2000


    Dry Rub:
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Blackberry Glaze:
  • 1 1/4 cups rinsed fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce to taste
  • Pork Ribs:
  • 3 racks baby back ribs (approximately 8 pounds)
  • Additional Equipment:
  • Wood chips for smoking and a smoker vessel (I used apple wood)


  • Preheat oven to 300° F. Prepare barbecue for indirect heat if using charcoals. Soak your choice of wood smoke chips in water and prepare a smoker vessel for the barbecue.
  • For the rub:
  • Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl; cover airtight and set aside.
  • Prepare the ribs:
  • Line a large rimmed sheet pan twice with aluminum foil in opposite directions leaving long ends to overhang the pan; set aside.
  • Rinse ribs and pat them dry. Remove silver skin from undersides if desired. Generously rub all sides and ends of the meat with the spice mixture making sure to work it into the ribs. Transfer ribs to the prepared pan. Draw the overhanging foil up and cover the ribs tight to seal. Bake the ribs for 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, make the Blackberry Glaze:
  • In a food processor or blender, add the first 6 ingredients; blend until the berries are pureed. If using, add the salt. Add the hot sauce and stir. Transfer glaze to a saucepan. Over low heat bring to a simmer to reduce and slightly thicken; about 10-15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  • If using a charcoal grill, get the coals going about the last 30 minutes of baking; for a gas grill preheat one burner (right or left side) for indirect method when there's 10 minutes baking remaining. In either case set the smoker chips over the heat source at this time.
  • Transfer the ribs outdoors to the heated barbecue when the wood chips are smoking. Allow ribs to continue cooking for 20 minutes, turning as needed to caramelize. Baste the ribs one side at a time, turning them glazed side down to cook for about 10 minutes; the glaze will thicken and become sticky. Repeat for the opposite side. Transfer ribs to a serving platter and garnish with a few fresh blackberries and thinly sliced scallions or minced fresh parsley.


It may seem the measure of fresh ginger is abundant, but in simmering the glaze on the stove top, it mellows the ginger while leaving its bright note intact. Feel free to use your favorite brand of hot sauce for the glaze. Both the glaze and the rub are ideal to use for beef and poultry.


  1. I’ve been waiting for this. 🙂 When I saw the photo of the ingredients last night, I knew that a sauce was coming, but didn’t know what you had put it on. Ribs are my most favorite grilled item, Brooks. These look absolutely fantastic. Ridiculously so. Wow. I can’t believe you lasted the two hours with that grill calling to you like it was.

    Kudos to you for getting the whole lawn done. I’d say those gorgeous baby backs were a worthy reward.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Thank you, Christiane. The ribs were indeed a prize. My decision to let the oven take first dibs at the ribs (rhyme not intended, ha!) stems from the low propane level on the tank―I wasn’t sure there was enough to go the full run. But there was enough to smoke them up and lacquer them to a glorious finish. Cheers to you & yours!

  2. While I sit near the window in Northern Michigan watching still more snow fall as I type, I can’t help but smile at the thought of the first run of spring through the yard. My eldest son is a rabid fan of both ribs and blackberries, so we’ll be sure to glaze the first ribs of grilling season with your gorgeous sauce. After the snow melts…

    • Brooks Walker says

      Kirsten, somehow it doesn’t seem right that parts of the nation are still having snowfall―especially since we’ll reach 80° this weekend. But NorCal has its share of fickle winter leftover; a couple of years ago skiers were still taking runs in Tahoe on July 4! Thank you for stopping by…I’d love to hear how your son likes the ribs.

  3. What fabulous baby back ribs! The blackberry and sriracha combo is a must try!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Thank you Tessa, nothing says summer like barbecued ribs. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  4. Brooks,
    I love the sauce and the combo of Blackberries and Sriracha. Will try this glaze on chicken, when I see fresh blackberries. Gearing up for spring is a ritual for sure;)

    • Brooks Walker says

      Hi Becky, I’m confident you’ll love the bright note the glaze will lend to chicken.

  5. I’ll have to try this.

  6. Oh em gee. This is amazing Brooks. I am speechless.

  7. OK, we tried them. They’re fabulous. We’re making them again this weekend. Thanks for such a solid favorite, Brooks!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Yay Kirsten, I’m thrilled you & yours enjoyed the ribs! Thank you for reporting back; your nod means the world to me.

  8. Howard says

    Made this last night as a request from my son who is going back to school next week. Amazing and beautiful. Blackberries are not in season here in Chicago so I used blueberries instead. Also, I discovered by necessity that this is a great dish for a party. I had to bake the rubbed ribs on Monday night, refrigerated them still wrapped, then re-heated them in the oven while the coals were heating on Tues. It was a quick process to heat the grill, smoke and glaze the ribs – dinner in an hour on Tuesday. Ribs were amazing. Tender but still good chew, great complex sweet, but not too sweet flavor, slight bit of heat. Very nice. Thanks for posting this.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Howard, you are welcome and I thank you for taking the time to leave these kind words! I love how your preparation layover became something easy for a spectacular meal the next day—this is terrific feedback. Moreover, your berry improvisation is spot on. I’m happy you enjoyed the recipe.

  9. Your version of ‘summer on a plate’ is amazing! I’m ready for these ribs right now!

  10. First: you just reminded me why I do not miss having a yard.

    Second (swooning): oh my oh my! Amazing amazing! Already the dry rub is great but wowee what a fabulous bbq sauce – I love your addition of blackberries (brilliance) and nothing and I mean nothing is better on meat than fruity sweet and spicy. Gorgeous. And now you just reminded me why we need a yard. barbecue.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Yard work—it is indeed a seasonal rite of passage. Many thanks for the lovely comment, Jamie. This recipe can be executed indoors in the oven, minus the wood chip smoke from the barbecue, of course, but just as tender and juicy.


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