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Candied BBQ Ribs Are Just Too Good To Pass Up

Sugar being melted on top of ribs with a torch

If you’re a fan of sweet and savory dishes like candied bacon, then you’re going to love these candied BBQ ribs.

This sweet and savory masterpiece begins with a rack of ribs seasoned with Meathead’s Memphis Dust. The ribs are smoked low and slow in the usual manner until mouthwateringly moist and tender. Normally, ribs would then be sauced, sliced, and served, but this recipe employs a technique more often used for the French dessert crème brûlée (literally, burnt cream). You sprinkle the ribs with sugar then torch them until the sugar melts and browns. When the sugar cools, it crystallizes and forms a sweet and crunchy shell, followed by the savory rub, and finally completed by the tender and moist smoked pork.

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Candied BBQ Ribs Recipe (a.k.a. Bruleed Ribs)


Candied ribs sliced on a cutting board
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
4.2 from 50 votes
Crunchy bruleed sugar adds an unexpected twist to traditional low and slow smoked ribs in this recipe for sweet and savory candied BBQ ribs.

Serve with: Your favorite pale ale or IPA.


Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Difficulty: Moderate

Makes:

Servings: 2 1/2 rack per serving

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes

Equipment

  • Culinary torch
  • Three to four chunks of your favorite smoking wood

Ingredients

  • 1 slab Pork ribs
  • ¾ teaspoon Morton coarse kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon per pound of meat)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Meathead's Memphis Dust dry rub
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
Notes:
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
About the mayonnaise. The use of mayonnaise is completely optional but is something that I have done for years. As with the more popular yellow mustard, the mayonnaise serves as a binding agent for the dry rub without altering the flavor of the finished meat. Unlike mustard, mayonnaise is high in fat, something that can only benefit the ribs.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Skin 'n trim. This recipe works on all cuts of pork ribs. Remove the membrane from the slab of ribs (read more on removing the membrane here).
  • Salt ahead if you can. Season the slab of ribs with Kosher salt. If you can, give the salt 1 to 2 hours to be absorbed. The process of salting in advance is called dry brining. The rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat, but ribs consist of only about 50% meat, so use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. You can simply eyeball it by sprinkling on the same amount of salt you would sprinkle on the ribs if they were served to you unseasoned. 
  • Fire up. Prepare a smoker for indirect cooking. Alternatively, you can set up a charcoal grill for 2-zone cooking by placing a chimney full of lit charcoal briquets on one side of the grill's charcoal grate in order to create direct and indirect cooking zones. Adjust the smoker or grill vents to bring the temperature to about 225°F and add three to four chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that one half of the grill is off and the other half is heated enough to maintain a temperature of approximately 225°F on the indirect side.
  • Dust. Once the smoker or grill is ready, brush both sides of the slab of ribs with mayonnaise and lightly season with Meathead's Memphis Dust dry rub.
  • Cook. Place the slab of ribs meat side up on the main cooking grate as far away from the heat source as possible. Cover the smoker or grill. Allow the ribs to smoke until the meat just begins to shrink back from the ends of the bones, about 3 to 4 hours for baby backs and 5 to 6 hours for spareribs and St. Louis Cut. The exact time will depend on how thick the slab is and how steady you have kept the smoker or grill temperature. To test if the ribs are done, we prefer to use the "bend test." Use tongs to pick up one end of the slab of ribs, then bend them slightly. If they are ready, the slab will bow until the meat starts to crack on the surface. Here are some other tips for judging whether ribs are ready.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker and set it on a sheet pan or wooden cutting board. Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the water in a small bowl and blend well to make a sugary paste. Use a brush to coat the topside of the ribs with the sugar mixture (note: add a small amount of water to the mixture if the mixture doesn't spread easily).
  • Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top of the ribs then use a culinary torch to heat the sugar until is begins to bubble but before it begins to burn (wisps of smoke will tell you that it has begun to burn).
  • Brulee. Allow the sugar to cool completely. If properly bruleed, the sugar should create a hard shell on the ribs. If it doesn’t, simply torch the sugar for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Serve. Slice the ribs and serve.
    bruleed bbq ribs

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Published On: 6/18/2018 Last Modified: 4/6/2021

  • Clint Cantwell - Clint Cantwell is AmazingRibs.com's Senior Vice President of Whatever, charged with creating recipes, writing articles, shooting photos, and a little bit of everything else. He was named one of the "10 Faces of Memphis Barbecue" by Memphis Magazine and was the winner of Travel Channel's "American Grilled: Memphis".


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