Noelle Carter’s Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs Recipe


Chef Noelle Carter, Director of Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen, shares her recipe for Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs that can be smoked indoors, no fancy equipment or ingredients required. For added instruction and entertainment, watch the video! To see the recipe on the LA Times website, click here.



Noelle Carter's Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients for Noelle Carter’s Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs:

1 rack (2 to 2 1/2 pounds) baby back ribs
Small hardwood hickory chips

Baby Back Rib Rub:
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon New Mexico chile powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar

Baby Back Rib Mop:
1/4 cup distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

NOTES: Serves 4. Total preparation time: 2 hours, 20 minutes plus overnight marinating. This recipe calls for a commercial stove-top smoker; a heavy-duty roasting pan with a rack and lid can be substituted. This recipe uses small hardwood hickory chips; the chips are available at select cooking stores and are widely available online.


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the kosher salt, celery salt, black pepper, onion powder, dried oregano, New Mexico chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, sweet paprika and brown sugar. This makes about 1 cup dry rub, more than you’ll need for the remainder of the recipe. Place the rub in an airtight container and store in a cool place away from direct sunlight; it will keep for about 2 months before the flavor starts to fade.

2. Peel the silverskin from the rib rack (the tough membrane on the underside of the rack). Rinse the rack under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Drizzle a small handful of rub evenly over each side of the rack to give it a good coating; the surface of the ribs should be tacky, and the rub should adhere easily. Pat on the rub to make sure the ribs are entirely covered, and gently shake to remove any excess. Place the ribs on a rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, prepare the smoker: Spread about 3 tablespoons wood chips in the center of the base of the smoker, directly over the burner. Place the drip pan (if using) over the chips, and a rack on top of the drip pan. Place the ribs in the center of the rack and cover with the lid, leaving the smoker open only a couple of inches. (Halve the rack if the whole rack won’t fit, and smoke half at a time.)

5. Heat the smoker over medium heat just until you see smoke escaping through the opening. Close the smoker entirely and gently smoke for 1 hour. Depending on your stove, you may want to reduce the heat to medium-low so the ribs do not cook too quickly, or they will be tough.

6. Shortly before the ribs are done smoking, heat the oven to 250 degrees. In a measuring cup, combine the vinegar, water and Dijon mustard, along with 2 tablespoons of the rub and whisk together to form a “mop.”

7. Place the smoked ribs in a baking dish and drizzle with the mop (pour over half the mop if smoking in two batches). Cover the ribs tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the meat is tender (you will know they’re done when you bend the rack and the meat easily pulls away from the bone), about 1 hour more. For a crackly surface, uncover the baking dish and place the ribs under the broiler just until the surface crisps.

8. If smoking the rack in two batches: While the first half-rack bakes in the oven, smoke the second rack in the same manner as the first, using new wood chips (the first batch of wood chips should be reduced mostly to ash and can be washed down the sink; if they’re too big, cool them completely before throwing away). Bake the second rack after smoking.

9. Serve the ribs warm.

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2 Responses to “Noelle Carter’s Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs Recipe”

  1. Warren B
    6/19/2014 at 8:41 am #

    These look AMAZING! I’m having my first patio party of the summer (it’s been a slow season up here in Canada!). I think I’ll be giving this recipe a try!


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