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Honey Teriyaki Ribs

Two slabs of honey teriyaki ribs, one partially cut into ribs on a sheet of parchment.
These honey teriyaki ribs are rubbed with five spice powder and brown sugar, smoked low and slow until tender, and then slathered with a sweet honey teriyaki glaze. The most sweetly irresistible ribs we've tried. See for yourself.
Jamie Purviance

Prep 25 mins
Cook 1 hr 35 mins
Total 2 hrs
Entrees
American
6 to 8 servings

Ingredients 

For the smoker

  • 3 large handfuls cherry wood chips

For the five-spice rub

  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons five spice powder

For the honey teriyaki ribs

  • Three racks meaty baby back ribs

For the honey teriyaki glaze

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons peeled finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce such as store-bought or homemade Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

Directions 

Soak the chips for the smoker

  • Fill a medium bowl with water and toss in the wood chips. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Make the five-spice rub

  • In a small bowl combine all the ingredients.

Prep the ribs

  • Remove the membrane from the racks by using a dull knife and sliding the tip under the membrane that covers the back of each rib rack. Holding a paper towel in your hand, grip the membrane at one end of the slab of ribs and tug. It usually pulls right off.
  • Season the racks with about 1 1/2 tablespoons rub per rack, being sure to put more of it on the meaty side of each rack and less on the bone side.

Make the honey teriyaki glaze

  • In a skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, and chili-garlic sauce, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine. Slowly stir the cornstarch mixture into the skillet while whisking constantly. Boil until thickened, still whisking, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Grill the ribs

  • Before lighting the grill, drain the wood chips and add them to the smoker box. (If you don’t have a built-in smoker box, set the box you are using under the cooking grate directly over a burner off to one side of the grill. If it won’t fit, place it on top of the cooking grate off to one side over the burner.)
  • Prepare the grill for indirect cooking on high heat (450° to 550°F | 232° to 288°C).
  • When smoke appears, lower the temperature to low (275° to 300°F | 135° to 149°C). Place the rib racks, bone side down, on the cooking grates over indirect heat.

    TESTER TIP: To avoid charred ribs, keep the racks over indirect heat the entire time. Don’t be tempted to hurry things by sneaking them to the direct side. You’ll thank us later.

  • Close the lid and cook, keeping the temperature 275° to 300°F (135° to 149°C), until tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
  • During the last 20 to 25 minutes of grilling, generously baste the racks with the reserved glaze every 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the racks from the grill and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice the racks between the bones. Pile the individual ribs on a platter and pass the remaining glaze on the side.