Hickory Smoked Ribs

The weather is finally warming up, and that means you’ll be dusting off the grill, getting ready to greet summer with some gastronomic goodness. It’s officially cookout time again, and we can already smell the savory smoke in the air. Start the season out right this weekend with our original backyard baby-back ribs recipe with fresh-cut hickory. But get ready, this one is an all-day affair. So invite the family, some friends, or all the neighborhood dogs and get cooking!


  • 3 or 4 racks baby-back ribs
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Remove thin membrane from bone side of ribs, rinse and dry. Rub a small amount of vegetable oil on both sides of ribs to lightly coat.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Cover each rib rack with the spices and rub in. Then refrigerate for about an hour.

Remove ribs from fridge and allow them reach room temperature.

While you wait, get the smoker ready. Fill the water pan of the smoker with your favorite liquid combination for a little extra flavor. I use apple juice and a bottle of hard cider.

Now it’s time for the secret ingredient: fresh-cut hickory. (If you don’t live in a place where hickory trees grow rampantly, you can buy some.) If you get it from your own backyard, you’ll need to remove the bark.

ribs hickory

So, longer in the smoker = less time in the oven. Just an hour on the smoker will leave a pretty intense smokey flavor. I recommend smoking for an hour then putting the ribs in the oven at 225 degrees for 2 1/2 hrs in a tightly covered dish.

ribs meat

Check the dish for the last 45 minutes of cook-time frequently. If you can stick a fork between the ribs and easily twist them apart they are done.

Allow them to cool a little before the grand finale. They’ll go on the grill to finish. This is just to reheat, crisp up and caramelize any barbecue sauce that you might want to apply.

ribs grill

Enjoy! Your culinary masterpiece was well worth the effort. It’s nothing short of a work of art.

(Recipe Courtesy Chef George Norwood Singer) 

About the Author: Lindsey Singer


Elsie is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsyvania; her writing has appeared in a few university publications, under tables and on the sides of trains. She likes taking Polaroid pictures and planning rooftop picnics.