apple pie ribs

American as Apple Pie Ribs Recipe

Apple Pie Ribs Recipe

I’m kicking off a soon-to-be, new, 4th of July tradition with this rib recipe (At least at my house!). I call it my “American as Apple Pie Ribs” and it’s a winner! First I start out with a couple racks of spare ribs trimmed down to St. Louis cut. The membrane is removed from the back and the ribs are squared up a little on the end. To get the apple flavor started I use a spritz of Apple Cider Vinegar to act as a binder. Then I apply a light coat of Kosher salt and let it rest for about 15 minutes to work into the meat. Next I add my buddy Heath Riles’ Apple Rub to the ribs on all side. It’s a sweet bbq rub with hints of fresh apples; and it taste phenomenal right out of the bottle. The Apple Rub sweats on the meat for 15-20 minutes until it melts giving the ribs a beautiful red color.
Apple pie ribs

Apple pie ribs

To cook the ribs I decided to give my Yoder pellet grill some love and fired it up to 250 degrees. Of course I had to use apple pellets to stick with the theme. You can use any pit to cook these ribs just throw on a few chunks of apple wood just before putting the ribs on the grate. Also, keep the pit at 250 the entire cook. The ribs go on the pit and smoke for a little over two hours. Every 45 minutes I spritz them with a mixture of Apple Juice and the Apple Cider Vinegar I used as a binder. Just mix equal parts and keep the ribs moist during the smoke process. Apple pie ribs When the rub has stuck to the outside of the meat and the color is starting to turn a little dark, it’s time to wrap the ribs. Each slab goes on a sheet of aluminum foil. Cut 1/2 stick of butter into pats and spread out on the foil. The meat side of the ribs is brushed with Apple Butter. You can find it at your local supermarket or check google for a recipe. It’s pretty much a kicked-up apple sauce. Fresh apples are cooked down with brown sugar and spices. To me it taste like the inside of delicious fried apple pie. Once the apple butter is brushed over the meat side, flip the ribs over, meat down, on top of the butter pats. Spritz the bone side with a little more basting liquid (apple juice/apple cider vinegar) and wrap the foil around tight. Place each rack back on the pit and continue cooking until tender usually about 1 – 1/2 hours. After 1 hour in the wrap it’s a good idea to check the progress. When you see the back side start to disintegrate away from the bones it’s a good indicator that the ribs are almost ready. I use a Thermapen to verify the internal temperature. I like ribs to be around 202 for perfect tenderness, but you can keep cooking them if you like the fall off the bone style. Apple pie ribs Once the ribs reach temp carefully take them out of the foil and place on a foil lined sheet pan meat side down. Dust the bone side with a little more Apple Rub and brush on the apple glaze. To make the glaze I take 1 cup of apple jelly mixed with a splash of apple juice. It’s heated in the microwave for 5 minutes until melted. Then I add 1 cup of Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce and 1/2 cup Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce. Brush the warm glaze over the bone side and flip the ribs over to meat side up. Apple pie ribs Add a little more apple rub to the meat side and place the ribs (pan and all) back on the pit for 5-10 minutes to let the rub melt in a little. Then brush the meat side with the apple glaze and let it continue to cook on the pit for 10-15 minutes until the glaze starts to caramelize. Watch it close at this point because it can burn or get too dark. Apple pie ribs That’s it at this point. Take the ribs off the pit and let them rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into individual bone pieces. These ribs really have a nice apple flavor without being to sweet or fruity. The rub, smoke, wrap, and glaze all combine to give the ribs an Apple Pie note that’s perfect for the 4th of July or any time you’re craving a good slab of ribs! Print
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Apple pie ribs

American as Apple Pie Ribs


These ribs really have a nice apple flavor without being to sweet or fruity.  The rub, smoke, wrap, and glaze all combine to give the ribs an Apple Pie note that’s perfect for the 4th of July or any time you’re craving a good slab of ribs!



  1. Prepare pellet smoker for indirect cooking at 250 degrees using apple pellets for smoke flavor.  Any grill or smoker can be used just keep the temp at 250 degrees for the duration of the cook and add apple wood to the coals for smoke flavor.
  2. Trim and remove the membrane from the ribs, spritz with apple cider vinegar and season with Kosher Salt lightly.  Rest the ribs for 15 minutes.
  3. Apply a medium coat of Heath Riles Apple Rub to all sides of the ribs and rest for 15 minutes before placing on the pit.
  4. Place each rack on pit and smoke for 2 hours.  Spritz the ribs every 45 minutes with apple cider vinegar mixed with apple juice. 
  5. Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil.  Place 1/2 stick of the butter pats on the foil.  Brush the meat side of the ribs with 1/2 the apple butter and lay the ribs meat down on the butter.  Spritz the bone side with the cider/juice combo and wrap the ribs tight.
  6. Place the ribs back on the pit and cook for 1 – 1/2 hours or until tender. 
  7. Place the apple jelly in a microwave safe bowl along with a splash of apple juice.  Heat the jelly for 5 minutes or until melted.  Stir it half way thorough heating.  Add The BBQ Sauce and Vinegar Sauce.  Stir well to combine.
  8. Remove the ribs from the foil and place meat down on a foil lined backing sheet.  Season lightly with more apple rub followed by the apple glaze.  Flip the ribs over and apply more apple rub to the meat side (lightly).  Place the ribs back on the pit for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Glaze the meat side of the ribs with the apple/bbq sauce combo.  Continue to cook until the sauce sets and starts to caramelize slightly.  Stay close because it can get too dark. 
  10. Remove the ribs from the pit and cut into desired portions.

Keywords: Apple pie ribs, apple ribs, barbecue ribs, bbq ribs recipe, American as apple pie ribs

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26 responses to “American as Apple Pie Ribs Recipe”

  1. Michael says:

    Hi Malcom. This looks excellent. I’d like to make it tomorrow, but I can’t get Heath’s Rub and Vinegar Sauce in time. Can I substitute something else? Have a great 4th!

    • Jason. - Calgary, Alberta, Canada. says:

      Hey MIchael,

      Did you find anything to substitute the vinegar sauce with?


  2. Bob Rasmussen says:

    Please e-mail this!!

  3. Chad says:

    Looks great. These are going on tomorrow! Just curious what do you do with all the meat you cut off the ends?

  4. roy hill says:

    am really ready to try this recipe with my new pellet smoker

  5. Dan Derrick says:

    Sounds wonderful because family’s favorite BBQ sauce for ribs is a 50/50 mix of apple butter and any flavor KC Masterpiece or similar sauce. Plus a splash of sherry. Add honey if you want it sweeter.

  6. Quinn says:

    Malcolm – Long time lurker, first time poster. Made these today in my new gravity fed charcoal smoker. Had my father in law, sister in law, brother in law, nieces and nephews over today. Oh, and the wife and kids. My Lord these ribs were a hit! I substituted in back loin ribs, but man oh man did everyone love them. Used your buddy’s Apple rub and your sauces. Thank you and keep up the good work!!!

  7. Brad Thomas says:

    I made these a couple of weeks ago on my gas grill with a smoke pouch of apple pellets and it turned out excellent. I used grill mates applewood rub and George’s original barbecue sauce as my vinegar sauce and rib sauce as my regular sauce. Since then I’ve bought a pellet grill and I’m gonna do them again on that tonight.

  8. Gavin says:

    Followed this recipe to a T on the Traeger, came out perfect. Amazing apple flavor, wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting. Will be doing these again soon, thanks Malcom!

    • Sean Hoxworth says:

      just did this today, all apple butter no apple jelly, got it a bit to salty operator error I used 2 tablespoons kosher salt on one rack! I used McCormick apple rub. Nice but first ingredient is salt. Any came out very nice. I also did pork belly burnt ends using same process, dusted with apple rub. Spritz with juice and ACV when did ribs, brown sugar, honey, splash juice and butter when covered, sauced glazed with same mix as the ribs. A winner! Used campchef with cherry apple mixed pellets.

  9. Richard Henderson says:

    So different and sooooo good Malcom! Cooked a single rack per your instructions a couple of weeks ago (I have to admit I was a little nervous with the amount of raw salt and rub you added) and the flavor was great. In fact, we’re have 20 people over for a pool party tomorrow and I’m doing five more racks for them. Great job!

  10. Benjamin Peeler says:

    great recipe. crowd loved it. made them on the Kamado Joe.

  11. Jason - Calgary, Alberta, Canada. says:

    After countless hours of research all summer long on which grill I should buy I am hours away from making the purchase (After Work). I am so excited and these ribs are the first thing I am trying as I enter the world of smoking. Hoping they are as great as they look. Thanks for all the great recipes.

  12. Daniel says:

    Made these twice now, the second time I made them along with a rack of bbq ribs and you could really taste the sweetness and apple flavors compared to the non apple ribs. Super delicious recipe, thanks for sharing!

  13. Joshua C says:

    Ribs came out amazing! I did a little tweaking of my own because I dont have the killer hog vinegar or bbq sauce. My family’s new favorite style ribs! Thanks malcom

  14. Craig Elisco says:

    Hey Malcom,

    First of all thank you so much for all you do. Your videos are by far the best of anything I have seen. You are so detailed and we love your rubs.

    I have been smoking a lot of spare ribs and bought both pre butchered st. Louis cut and also cut them myself st. Louis style but I still end up getting some (what I think is) cartilage bites. I have had spare ribs at restaurants and never seem to run into this. Any ideas?

    About to try beef back ribs for the first time this week. I have read a lot of mixed things about taking off the membrane. Do you think it’s worth taking off?

    Thanks again!

  15. Jack says:

    Just made these today, and they are absolutely spot on. I only had baby backs in the meet locket, so changed the smoker temp a touch. They turned out spectacular. If I could post pics, the look like the recipe, and the taste is even better.

  16. Derrick G says:

    Awesome ribs, just flat out awesome! Just one question – if I back off on the vinegar sauce as I am not a huge fan of that tangy vinegar taste, do I up anything else, or just stay status quo?

  17. Jeff says:

    I cooked them on a pellet smoker, and were delicious, cooking more for Easter,

  18. Corey McCord says:

    This recipe for me came out a-MAZ-ing. I just did this today and plan on doing it again for Memorial Day for the family cookout. Thank you for this awesomeness!

  19. Davien Bostic says:

    I love doing my ribs like this. Excellent apple flavor. Great recipe and my new favorite rib recipe.

  20. Bill says:

    I made baby backs for the Fourth of July I used the apple tub for a base rub then went over the top with killer hog hot rub…… these ribs were excellent and everyone loved the flavor combinations

  21. Christopher Low says:

    Made these for our 4th of July Celebration! They were a hit! Along with the Pork Belly Burnt Ends, Collard Greens, Macaroni and Cheese! It was BBQ Heaven! Awesome! Everyone loved the flavor. Smoked them in my Charcoal/Wood Smoker with Apple Wood!

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