My wife requested that I make these ribs. As a man who believes the term “happy wife, happy life” I started on them right away. Plus, if I’m honest, I never miss a chance to chow down on some delicious, savory ribs. This recipe is simple and packs a mouthwatering flavor you’re going to love.
My Cherry Dr. Pepper Ribs
People use beer and Coke in cooking everything from chili to turkeys. Well, I decided to play off the idea and use Dr. Pepper. I started with some high quality ribs from my friends over at Cheshire Farms, used some flavorful spices, and a can of Dr. Pepper. This recipe is good for serving a big crowd at Sunday dinner or eating with the family on any night of the week.
- St. Louis Ribs. A couple of racks of ribs ready to be seasoned and grilled.
- Yellow mustard. It makes a great binder.
- Heath Riles BBQ Hot BBQ Rub. The spices in this rub kick up the flavor in everything from pork to fish to veggies.
- Heath Riles BBQ Cherry Rub. A hint of cherry adds a depth of flavor to pork, beef, fish, and lamb.
- Dr. Pepper. Cola adds extra flavor to recipes, and the Dr. Pepper taste is one of a kind.
- Heath Riles BBQ Butter Bath & Wrap. Who doesn’t enjoy fall-off-the-bone tender ribs? That’s what this bath helps you cook up.
- Apple juice. Flavorful and juicy, it mixes great with the Butter Bath and keeps meat moist and savory.
- Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce. Sometimes you want to add some sweetness along with the heat to make the recipe burst with flavor.
The Equipment Setup
The Process for Making Cherry Dr. Pepper Ribs
I shot a video of me making these ribs and uploaded it to my Youtube channel. If you’d like to watch the process, head over there and tune in.
- Preheat the grill. I used Royal Oak Charcoal Pellets for this recipe. I didn’t want it too hot, so it didn’t take long to heat my Pellet Grill to 250 degrees F.
- Unpack the ribs. Putting on nitrile gloves, I slid the slabs of ribs out of the packaging, wiped them off with a paper towel, and laid them on a large pan.
- Trim the fat. These ribs had a little loose meat hanging off them and some fat, so I used a knife to trim them up a bit.
- Add a binder. Oil and water make good binders, but I decided to go with yellow mustard on these ribs. I learned to cook by using mustard as a binder, so that’s why I still like it. I rubbed a layer of mustard into the top, turned it over, and did the same to the bottom of both slabs.
- Season the meat. First off I laid down a base of my Hot BBQ Rub. It has onion and garlic powder, paprika and some chili powder to give a good kick of heat to the ribs. I sprinkled a medium coat on both sides of the ribs, not too thin or thick. Then I took my Cherry Rub and sprinkled it over the ribs to get another taste added into the crust. This Cherry Rub is a beautiful color, too. I let the spices mingle and sweat into the ribs for about 10 minutes, then I turned them over and repeated the process on the backside.
- Grill the ribs low and slow. Once my Traeger Pellet Grill was heated to around 250 degrees F, I laid both racks directly on the grill grates and closed the lid to let them cook.
- Give the ribs a spritz. The ribs had been on the grill for about 2 hours when I spritzed them with some Dr. Pepper. When I opened the lid I could tell the ribs were already starting to bark up. After spritzing, I closed them up to cook some more.
- Time for a bath! I mixed apple juice and my Butter Bath & Wrap together in a shaker bottle. I took the slabs off the grill and laid them on a pan covered with double aluminum foil. I poured half the contents of the shaker bottle on the first slab, flipped it upside down in the butter bath, wrapped in the foil (long sides first), did the same with the second slab, and put them back on the grill.
- Finish grilling. The ribs stayed on the grill another 2 hours before I checked their temps. They were hitting 204-205 degrees, F, so knew they were ready to come off the heat and get sauced up.
- Make the sauce. I poured a can of Dr. Pepper in a small saucepan, reduced it by half, and mixed it with my Sweet BBQ Sauce.
- Adding the barbecue sauce. The ribs rested for about 10 minutes before I took them out of the foil and brushed both sides with the sauce. They looked perfectly cooked and the color was fantastic!
- Give them a few more minutes on the grill. The sauce needed some time to penetrate the ribs, so I put them on the grill for about 25 more minutes. I used a cake knife (so I wouldn’t mess the sauce up) to scoop them off the grill.
- Slice and taste. I sliced them up and taste tested one right in the middle of the slab.
Saucy, sticky, tender, and delicious. I don’t know what else anyone could ask for in a rib. The taste was unique and flavorful. The Dr. Pepper added a delicious taste and the hint of cherry from the Cherry Rub really brought it home.
Serving Suggestions for Cherry Dr. Pepper Ribs
Some people like eating a whole rack while others are satisfied with half a rack. Serve it with a couple of sides like baked beans and coleslaw to make a hearty meal.
Store any leftovers in a ziplock baggie in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Equipment and Tools
Traeger Timberline 1300, Royal Oak Charcoal Pellets, Black Gloves , Stone + Wood Cutting Boards , YETI Rambler 30oz Tumbler, Thermapen Mk4 , Thermoworks Silicone Tools, Heath Riles Shaker Bottle, Cutco Knife , Plastic Spray Bottle
Cherry Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe on the Pellet Grill
Cheshire Pork St. Louis Ribs
Mustard (or binder of choice)
Heath Riles BBQ Hot BBQ Rub
Heath Riles BBQ Cherry Rub
Heath Riles BBQ Butter Bath (1/4 cup per slab)
Apple Juice (3/4 cup per slab)
Dr. Pepper (12 oz for sauce, extra if you plan to spritz with it also)
Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce (1/2 bottle for sauce)
Get pellet grill (or grill of choice) up to 250º, we used the new Royal Oak Charcoal Pellets for this cook.
Trim ribs to your liking.
Apply binder to rib if you wish, we used yellow mustard.
Season back side of rib with a light to medium coat of Heath Riles BBQ Hot BBQ Rub.
Season back side of rib with Heath Riles BBQ Cherry Rub.
Allow rib to rest / sweat for 10 minutes on this side.
Repeat steps 3-6 for front side of the ribs.
Place ribs on the grill and allow to cook for 2 hours.
After 2 hour mark, spritz with Dr. Pepper.
Allow ribs to cook an additional hour (total of 3 hours at this point) and remove to wrap with Heath Riles BBQ Butter Bath.
Wrap each slab of rib with Heath Riles BBQ Butter Bath mixture (1/4 cup of Butter Bath to 3/4 cup of Apple Juice per slab of ribs).
Return wrapped ribs to grill for about another hour and a half or until you get a temperature of around 204º-206º.
Remove ribs from grill once desired temperature is reached and allow them to rest for at least 10 minutes.
Once rested, brush both sides of the ribs with Dr. Pepper Sweet BBQ Sauce. For this sauce we just reduced 12 oz of Dr. Pepper down over heat and mixed with 1/2 bottle of Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce.
Return sauced ribs to the grill for 20-30 minutes to allow sauce to set.