Talk about finger licking good! These Hickory Smoked Pork Ribs with Paleo BBQ Sauce are perfect for your Whole30 challenge and BBQ season!
Truth, I am super picky about my smoked ribs. I may have even talked about it a little too much when I was interviewed for the Man Meat BBQ podcast.
Ribs shouldn’t be stringy, boring, dull, or chewy. They have to be good – I mean good. Ribs that have a ton of meat to their bones and not just teeny little toothpicks with gristle.
Ribs have to have flavor, fall off the bone tender meat, and shouldn’t require saucing (optional, totally ok). Now that we’ve gotten the prerequisites out of the way, let’s get to the actual Hickory Smoked Pork Ribs.
For these babies, I stopped by Whole Foods and grabbed a few slabs of manageable length ribs, knowing it would be easier to handle in my smoker and grill. Then I started the research portion of the plan. The one where I wonder how to bring out the sweetness in the ribs without sugar since I am mastering this Whole30 thing.
How to make Paleo BBQ Sauce
I decided to let Mother Nature work her magic by marinating the ribs in sweet all natural pineapple juice and a little coconut aminos for balance.
I researched substitutes to add sweet without additional sugar and kept this whole 30 compliant to really amp up the game. Turns out bbq isnt just junk food and candied brown sugar, but you can get amazing flavors by incorporating real ingredients.
The bbq sauce is a base of tomato paste and sauce with pineapple for sweetness and spices to kick up the flavors. The recipe below came out incredibly well and would be great on this apple grilled chicken too (that’s also whole 30 compliant).
I then rubbed the baby backs and smoked over hickory wood chips for a few hours while making a smokey Paleo BBQ sauce to be used for basting.
Back to the truth of things, it was actually really good. I didn’t even miss the sugar – not that pineapple juice isn’t really sweet to begin with. It made for a great alternative and let the smokey flavor shine through.
Now on to the napkins.
I have plans to document some serious women BBQ teams this year and would love to hear if you know of one that I should make sure to meet on my travels!
Now, let’s get to the Hickory Smoked Pork Ribs & Paleo BBQ Sauce
Want more smoked rib inspiration? Try some of my favorite recipes
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For the Ribs
- 1 cup pinapple juice
- 1 tbs coconut aminos
- 2 racks baby back pork ribs
For the Rub
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 tbs paprika
- 1 teas cumin
- ½ teas cinnamon
- ½ teas chili powder
- ½ teas garlic powder
- ½ teas onion powder
- ½ teas pepper
For the Paleo BBQ Sauce
- 1 tbs ghee or cooking fat
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 6 oz tomato paste
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ½ cup pineapple juice this with more if needed
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- Juice from half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos use Worcestershire if not paleo or whole30
- 1 ½ teas chipotle chili powder
- 1 teas mustard powder
- 1 teas smoked paprika
- ½ teas chili powder
- ⅛ teas all spice
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Marinate your ribs in the pineapple juice and coconut aminos for 4 to 6 hours before smoking.
For the rub Rub
- Pat the ribs dry and arrange on a clean work surface. Remove the the thin membrain from back the ribs carefully with a knife. Combine the rub ingrediants and pat onto the ribs in a heavy layer on all sides. Set aside.
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F and soak your wood as recommended by the manufacturer (20 minutes for chips, 30 minutes for small chunks and so on – always read the label just to be sure).
- When the smoker is ready, smoke the ribs for 4 to 6 hours, adding more wood as needed.
For the Sauce
- Saute the onions in the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine.
- Cook for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the tomato paste and mix in until rust colored and coating everything (about 30 seconds).
- Stir in the sauce and pineapple juice. Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, and coconut aminos to combine. Lastly, whisk in the spices, the chipotle chili powder, mustard, paprika, chili powder, and all spice. Let simmer on low for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Lastly, for a smooth sauce, perfect for ribs, transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Store in a resealable jar until ready for use.
- When the ribs are pulled from the smoker, baste in the bbq sauce and sear on a grill for the final touch of.