Grillin’ with Gail: Chili-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs with Espresso Barbecue Sauce

We’ve all been working our ‘cues to the bone this summer in Seattle — with temperatures rarely dipping below 75F recently, we’ve got to get our summer on while we can! Because you know when we’re moping around here in December we won’t be able to respect ourselves otherwise.

Gail sussed out a great little recipe for some delicious baby back ribs to throw on the grill this past weekend, but it involved espresso powder and Gail was like, ‘kitten, please,’ so she swapped it out for 4 shots of espresso. Mmmmmhmmm. She says, ‘End result, very tasty & tender. The barbecue sauce with the espresso definitely added a little something extra. I would recommend this recipe.’


  • 2 tablespoons hot Mexican-style chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds baby back pork ribs
  • 1 12oz. bottle of dark beer
  • 1 18oz. bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 4 shots of freshly pulled espresso


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in small bowl to blend. Rub spice mixture all over ribs. Place ribs in heavy large roasting pan.
  2. Boil beer in medium saucepan until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour beer around ribs. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake ribs until fork-tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  3. Combine barbecue sauce, 1/2 cup water, brown sugar and espresso in heavy medium saucepan. Simmer until flavors blend and sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. (Ribs and barbecue sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover separately and refrigerate.)
  4. Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Brush ribs with some barbecue sauce. Grill ribs just until heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer ribs to platter. Bring remaining sauce to simmer. Brush ribs with more barbecue sauce. Serve ribs, passing remaining barbecue sauce separately.