Baby Back Ribs With Coffee-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Save a couple of cups of strong coffee from your morning pot—you'll need it for the marinade and sauce in this mouthwatering barbecue ribs recipe. Baby back ribs are a classic choice for this preparation, but you can also make this recipe using St. Louis ribs.

Baby Back Ribs with Coffee Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Photo: Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Hands On Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
5 hrs
6 servings

Bourbon and coffee are a classic flavor combination, and the pairing shines in this homemade barbecue sauce recipe. If you love the sauce on these coffee-marinated baby back ribs, drizzle it over a ribeye steak, or use it as a condiment on pulled pork sandwiches.


  • 1 cup brewed coffee, cooled

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ cup molasses or sorghum

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon chile powder

  • 2 slabs baby back ribs, about 4 pounds total

Coffee-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • ½ small yellow onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)

  • ½ cup ketchup

  • ¼ cup brown sugar

  • ¼ cup brewed coffee

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Kosher salt and black pepper, as needed


  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together coffee, vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic, and chile powder. Place ribs in a gallon-sized resealable bag or a large glass baking dish, and pour the marinade over the ribs. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight, turning the ribs over occasionally to make sure marinade makes contact with both sides.

  2. Preheat the oven to 275˚F. Remove the ribs from the marinade. Wrap ribs in aluminum foil, crimping to seal the foil. Place foil packet on a baking sheet. Bake for 2 ½ hours.

  3. Make the Coffee-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce (instructions below).

  4. Remove ribs from the oven, and turn oven temperature up to 350˚F. Open the foil packet and flatten foil on pan (or use a fresh piece of aluminum foil), removing excess liquid with a spoon or a turkey baster if needed.

  5. Brush the ribs on both sides with Coffee-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, flipping ribs over and brushing with more sauce every 15 minutes, until meat is very tender and pulls off the bone easily when checked with a fork. Cut ribs into individual pieces between each bone and serve with more barbecue sauce.

Coffee-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, until sugar is dissolved.

  2. Add the coffee, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, bourbon, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently to make sure sauce doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Cooled sauce can be transferred to a sealed container and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

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