Chili's Grilled Baby Back Ribs (Improved)
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Chili's Grilled Baby Back Ribs (Improved)

Score: 5.00. Votes: 1
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When I hacked this recipe on my TV show "Top Secret Recipe" I learned that the only way to make ribs taste just like the famous original version from Chili's is to smoke them with pecan wood chips. I had access to the development kitchen at Chili's corporate headquarters in Dallas where I discovered that the chain uses a special commercial smoker made by Convotherm that is preprogrammed to first smoke the ribs and then steam them until tender. To stimulate the steam function in a home smoker, you will need to spray the ribs with a little water every half hour in the second half of the cooking process.

It is also important to use the right kind of ribs if you want the perfect clone. Get well-trimmed baby backs that aren't too thick. Chili's ribs are trimmed pretty close to the bone to ensure even smoking and grilling. I also learned on the show that the chain wraps up the hot ribs in plastic wrap and foil immediately after they are smoked and before they are finished on the grill to help make them extra tender. You can skip this step if you are rushed, but if you have the time to work it in, the meat will fall off the bone on the way to your mouth. 

If you don't have a smoker, you can still use the seasoning and sauce recipes here and turn out some great ribs. You can give the ribs their great smokey flavor using a smoking box found on some grills, or by folding pecan wood chips into a pouch made from foil and cutting a couple of slices into the top of the foil so that the smoke can come out. Place the pouch over low heat to one side of your closed grill. Occasionally spray the ribs with water to keep them from drying out and smoke them for 2 to 4 hours, depending on how hot your grill is, then grill and baste them following this recipe. 

I've cloned a ton of Chili's famous dishes. See if I hacked your favorites here. 

Source: Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step by Todd Wilbur

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Rib Seasoning
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 4 racks trimmed baby back ribs
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke (concentrated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch citric acid
You will also need
  • Smoker
  • Small pecan wood chips
  • Sprayer bottle of water
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
    • Instructions

      1. Preheat a smoker to 225 degrees.

      2. Combine seasoning ingredients in a small bowl then pour into a shaker and shake generously over the ribs.

      3. Place the ribs into your smoker with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of small pecan wood chips and a pan or metal bowl of water. Smoke for 4 hours (open the vent for the first 2 hours). After 2 hours, add more water to the pan if necessary, mist the ribs with water, and close the vent. Spray the ribs with water every half hour from now on until done.

      4. While ribs are smoking, make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Heat for 2 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally until thick. Cover and remove from heat until ribs are done.

      5. When the ribs are done smoking, wrap them in plastic wrap, then foil and put them into your refrigerator for a couple hours, or until you plan to serve them. This will give your ribs a similar tenderness and flavor to the real thing. However, if you want to serve the ribs sooner, skip to the next step.

      6. When you are ready to serve the ribs, preheat a barbecue grill to high heat.

      7. When the grill is heated, place the ribs, bony side-down onto the hot grill. Baste the top of ribs with sauce and grill for 2 minutes. Flip the ribs and baste the bottom of each rack with sauce and grill for 2 minutes. Turn them sooner if sauce begins to burn. Flip the ribs over onto the bony side again and give each a final baste with the sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes and serve.

      Serves 4 (full racks).

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Score: 5.00. Votes: 1
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Sandy Bunnell
Dec 3, 2011, 22:00

These are delicious. we love to smoke all of our meats and we use this sauce for everything. Thank you Todd

I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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