Root Beer BBQ Ribs are sweet and tangy with a fall off the bone tenderness to the meat. Our boil ahead method is Top 8 Free, and gluten/dairy free. It is the perfect sweet summer barbecue recipe.
Why We Like This Recipe
We love ribs but I am super picky as to the amount of fat on my ribs. Our recipe is one that boils the ribs first to cook them, rather than the cooking happening on the grill. The boiling will cook off a fair amount of the fat so that when the meat is reheated on the barbecue it is tender and moist. We have made InstantPot ribs in the past and always come back to this method of cooking.
The root beer gives a sweet and tangy flavour to the pork that permeates the dish as it is used in the boiling. For best flavour, pair the ribs with our Root Beer Barbecue Sauce.
- Pork Baby Back or Side Ribs
- Garlic Cloves
- Ginger, fresh
- Root Beer
See recipe card for quantities.
The Ingredient Low Down
- Pork Baby Back or Side Ribs
Either white or yellow onions will work well. Red onions can also be used, if desired.
- Root Beer
Instructions/Directions and Tips
Remove the membrane from the back of the pork ribs. Cut the rack in 4-5 rib sections. Set aside. This can be a bit difficult as it is slippery. It isn’t necessary and there are people who feel strongly on both sides of the debate of if it should come off.
In a large pot, we use our stock pot, put the vegetables at the bottom of the pot, then add the pork ribs. These will all rise and float as the boiling occurs so don’t worry too much about spacing it all out.
Pour the root beer over the ribs and vegetables and then add enough water to cover the ribs by 2 inches. Once boiling the ribs will float so don’t worry too much about making sure the liquid is 2 inches above the ribs. This much is added as it will boil off during the hard simmer.
More water and root beer may need to be added as some boils off.
Over high heat bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low-medium to keep the liquid bubbling just above a simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour and 45 mins. Check often to see if the liquid needs topping up. We use a 2:1 ratio for water to root beer measurement. You can keep adding in this ratio as needed or just use water.
Remove the ribs from the pot and let cool on a heatproof plate lined with a few paper towels. This needs to be done carefully as they should be “fall off the bone” tender.
Once cooled wrap the ribs individually in plastic cling film and let chill for at least 2 hours to firm up or up to overnight chilling and firming. The chilling will firm the meat so it can easily be grilled.
Preheat the barbecue. When ready to cook, remove the ribs from the fridge and the plastic wrap. Baste or brush the ribs with barbecue sauce, like our Root Beer Barbecue Sauce.
On an oiled grill, barbecue the ribs for 5-8 mins on each side watching them closely so they do not burn. Often we will do 5 mins on the upper part of the grill and 2 mins on the lower to get grill marks. They should be 165F internally before removing from the grill.
Serve with extra Barbecue sauce for dipping.
Hint: Cooking on the upper grill will keep the bbq sauce from burning.
- Pork Ribs - Beef or lamb ribs can also be used. The boiling time may need to be reduced depending on if they are as fatty as pork. They will need to be boiled until cooked through (165F internal temperature) but stay on the bone enough to grill after firming.
- Ginger, fresh - ground ginger can be used in place of fresh ginger. Use 1 tablespoon in lieu of fresh ginger.
- Root Beer - If this is not safe for you you can substitute apple juice or water and ½ C apple cider vinegar in place of rootbeer. They won’t be as sweet. If you would like the ribs sweeter you can add a ¼ C brown sugar, or 3 Tbsps maple syrup or honey.
Add a few spicy chillies to the boiling chillis to bring heat to the meat itself. Depending on how spicy you would like to go will dictate which peppers and how many you use. We recommend starting with 2-3 jalapenos cut in half (with seeds for added heat)
Gluten Free Beer
Instead of root beer real gluten free beer works really well at adding extra flavour to the simmering pork. There are a few things to be aware of though. Get a true gluten free beer, not a reverse de-glutened beer. Some beers are brewed and then have the gluten removed through a process it is forced through.
There are brewers who do not use any gluten containing ingredients. Our favourite is a micro brewery in Calgary, Alberta called Heathen's Brewing. Some places do a milk or nut based beers so always contact the manufacturer to get the allergen info as alcoholic beverages are not required to label for allergens like food is.
Our recommendation is to get as full flavoured or dark of a beer as you can. They have more flavour to imbue to the ribs. A light beer or pale will not give off much flavour and water would be just as good.
Bourbon and Maple syrup
If it is safe for your allergies, you can replace the root beer with 3-4 Tbsps maple syrup and ½-1 cup of bourbon in place of the root beer. Bourbon is usually made from corn but check with the manufacturer to see if it is safe for you.
Not the cream soda style or ginger ale but the Jamaican ginger beer, like the one you would use in Moscow Mules, also works well for this recipe. Make sure that the one you can get is, of course, Top 8 free and gluten free.
Large Stock Pot
We use our big soup stock pot but in the past we used to make them in the largest pot we had. The pot needs to be big enough for the ribs to be submerged with room in case there is boiling over.
Cutting Board and Knife for the veggies to put in the pot.
Basting brush for the barbecue sauce.
Barbecue - To finish the ribs off and give them that grilled taste. If you don’t have a BBQ, on a foil lined cookie sheet you can lay the ribs flat and broil them in the oven on the middle rack. Each side should take 4-6 minutes depending on how hot your oven broiler is. Watch the ribs closely as the sugars in the BBQ sauce will burn quickly.
Oven Cooking Instructions
Not everyone has a barbecue or sometimes the weather just isn’t right for standing outside over the barbecue. Sometimes we like making ribs in the winter and no one is going to stand outside at -30. To cook the ribs in the oven they only need to be reheated and have the outside crisped up, not slow cooked for hours as the boiling is what makes them slow cooked. Preheat the oven to 400F and lay the ribs with the underside up on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Baste the side facing up with sauce and put the ribs in the oven on the middle rack for 10 mins. Flip the ribs, baste the side up with sauce, and cook for 5-10 mins until the sauce is starting to caramelise but remove before they burn. The ribs should be at a safe internal temperature before removing from the oven.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
The ribs are best stored wrapped in plastic and then in a well sealing container.
The ribs will keep for 3 days in the fridge either after boiling or after barbecuing.
Once cooled from boiling the ribs can be frozen for 3 months.They can be basted with BBQ sauce before freezing, if desired.
After barbecuing the ribs can also be frozen, if they have not been previously frozen after boiling. They will keep for 3 months, as well.
The ribs are best reheated after thawing and not reheated from frozen.
On a foil lined cookie sheet you can lay the ribs flat and broil them in the oven on the middle rack. Each side should take 4-6 minutes depending on how hot your oven broiler is. Watch the ribs closely as the sugars in the bbq sauce will burn quickly.
For best results with our Root Beer Ribs use our Root Beer BBQ sauce to coat and flavour the ribs. It will enhance and deepen the flavour to compliment the cooking flavour. For even extra flavour baste the ribs with the sauce before chilling in the fridge.
What To Serve With
Root Beer Ribs are delicious served with an ear of corn, garlic mashed potatoes, a baked potato or smashed potatoes and a vegetable. We love doing skewers of peppers, onions, and tomatoes on the grill and serving them with these ribs. A cob of fresh corn is a wonderful side or potato salad.
There are some days we serve our ribs with a large Caesar side salad, using a plant based dressing like the Daiya or President’s Choice in Canada (contains Mustard), or Hellman’s (contains Mustard) vegan Caesar salad dressings.
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
- Large Stock Pot
- Cutting board
- Basting Brush
- 5 Lbs roughly 2 full racks Pork Baby Back or Side Ribs
- 2 Ribs Celery rough cut in 4-6 chunks
- 1 Carrot rough cut in 6-8 chunks
- 1 Medium Onion Rough cut in 6-8 chunks
- 1 Apple cored and cut in 10-12 chunks
- 5 Garlic Cloves peeled left whole
- 2 - 1 inch Pieces of Ginger the skin can be left on
- 6 C Root Beer
- 12-16 C Water to cover the ribs
BBQ Sauce for brushing and/or marinating
- ½-1 C BBQ Sauce the link to our Root Beer BBQ Sauce is in the notes.
- Remove the membrane from the back of the pork ribs. Cut the rack in 4-5 rib sections. Set aside.
- In a large pot, we use our stock pot, put the vegetables at the bottom of the pot, then add the pork ribs.
- Pour the root beer over the ribs and vegetables and then add enough water to cover the ribs by 2 inches.
- Over high heat bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low-medium to keep the liquid bubbling just above a simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour and 45 mins. Check often to see if the liquid needs topping up.
- Remove the ribs from the pot and let cool on a heatproof plate lined with a few paper towels.
- Once cooled wrap the ribs individually in plastic cling film and let chill for at least 2 hours to firm upto overnight.
- When ready to cook, remove the ribs from the fridge and the plastic wrap.
- Preheat the barbecue.
- Baste with barbecue sauce, like our Root Beer Barbecue Sauce.
- On an oiled grill, barbecue the ribs for 5-7 mins on each side watching them closely so they do not burn. Often we will do 5 mins on the upper part of the grill and 2 mins on the lower to get grill marks.They should be 165F internally before removing from the grill.
- Serve with extra Barbecue sauce for dipping. Try our Root Beer BBQ sauce with this recipe.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on allergen free food, that previously touched allergens
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always check ingredients on any products for allergens when picking up, when unpacking, and when using
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
- Barbecues should be used outdoors away from the house and other objects