Middle Eastern Rubbed Ribs - 090

This is not one of your typical barbecue recipes. This is a combination of old world spices and the new world high heat grilling technique. It’s more like medium heat at only around 300 degrees, but that doesn’t sound as good as high heat. Most barbecue recipes are slathered with a tomato, vinegar, or mustard based sauce and the sauce is the show instead of the meat. With this recipe, the meat is rubbed rather than sauced and thus the centerpiece of the flavor profile if the meat with the rub complementing it. If you’re looking for more typical barbecue recipes, you can find them on this site, but this is not one of them. This is grilling outside the box.

Middle Eastern Rubbed Ribs Ingredients:

1 slab of baby back ribs
salt, black and white pepper to taste
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp finely ground coffee (double grind it on the finest setting)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp dried lemon (not pictured below)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

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Ingredients minus the dried lemon

Before grilling, prep the baby back ribs by removing the skin from the bone side and apply a coat of coarse salt, black and white pepper to this side first:

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Season Before Rubbing

When grilling ribs, always do bone side first so the rub and seasoning does not stick to the cutting board. The concave of the bones will keep the meat and the rub off the cutting board and this negate a need to reapply to your baby back ribs.

Now combine all the ingredients for the rub:

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The rub

If you spooned out the nutmeg I highly recommend buying whole nutmeg and shaving it off with a fine cheese grater or a microplane. The nutmeg never goes bad that way. It never gets stale. Here’s what a whole nutmeg looks like:

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Whole Nutmeg

Simply run it over a cheese grater to get the 1/2 tsp needed for this recipe. The flavor difference is significant:

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Grate some Nutmeg

Here’s what the nutmeg looks like on the inside:

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Inside a nutmeg

OK, foodie nerd moment over. Let’s get back to the Middle Eastern rubbed ribs.

Cover the bone side with the rub and flip the baby back ribs over and apply the salt, black and white pepper plus the rub to the meat side:

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Season and rub the meat side second

Let the rubbed ribs sit on the counter and come to room temperature as you fire up the grill, my Char-Griller Akorn kamado grill. Target temp is 275-325. With the Pitmaster IQ, maintaining those temps is ridiculously easy:

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Keep the Temps Constant with one of These Magnificent Machines

Basically, the Pitmaster IQ has a fan inside that’s attached to a hose that is connected to the bottom vent on my Char-Griller Akorn kamado grill. It’s also got a thermometer. When the temp gets below the desired level, the fan turns on stoking the fire. These things can run as much as $400, but this one is only $140, plus shipping and tax, and works like a champ. No more standing over the grill and tweaking vents. Just set it and forget it. Click here to buy one.

I threw in a chunk of oak and put the slab of rubbed baby backs on the upper rack of my Char-Griller Akorn:

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On the Grill

At around 300 degrees, grilling these baby backs should only take about two hours. Here are the grilled ribs at the 1 hour mark:

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1 hour on and getting golden

The meat is pulling back from the bone nicely:

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Meat pulling back

At 90 minutes the grilled ribs are looking delicious except that the rub looks a little dry on the outside:

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90 Minutes
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90 Minutes

The meat is pulling back well, but the rub looks a little dry because I laid it on thick:

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Bones peaking out, but rub looks dry

This happens quite often with thick rubs like this. Here’s a trick to make sure the rub is not dry and gritty on heavily rubbed ribs:

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Give it a Schvitz of Apple Juice or Cider

At the two hour mark, I pulled the grilled ribs and brought them inside to rest:

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If you’re curious as to what was on the lower racks of my grills, they were three half slabs of sauced ribs and a half slab of jerk:

Other Ribs
Sauced and Jerked Ribs

The rub is nuanced with many levels of flavor from the earthiness of the turmeric and the coffee, to the sweetness of the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, plus the savory of the oregano and celery seed, and a little citrus from the dried lemon to complete the fantastic flavor profile.

If you have any questions about the grilled ribs above please feel free to comment below or shoot me an email.

If you liked the Middle Eastern rubbed ribs, then click here for similar barbecue recipes.

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Middle Eastern Rubbed Ribs
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
Ribs rubbed with a Middle Eastern inspired combination of spices
  • 1 slab of baby back ribs
  • salt, black and white pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp finely ground coffee (double grind it on the finest setting)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp dried lemon (not pictured below)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Apple juice in a spray bottle
  1. Remove the skin from the bone side of the ribs
  2. Apply a coat of coarse salt, black and white pepper to the bone side first
  3. Set the ribs aside and make the rub
  4. Combine the rest of the ingredients (except for the apple juice) in a bowl and mix together with your fingers
  5. Cover the bone side with the rub and flip the baby back ribs over and apply the salt, black and white pepper plus the rub to the meat side
  6. Set up the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
  7. Target temperature of the grill is 275-325
  8. Place the ribs, bone side down, on the side with no heat and close the lid
  9. After 60 minutes, give the ribs a quick spray of apple juice
  10. Continue to give a quick spray of the juice to the grilled ribs every 15 minutes until the meat has pulled back from the bones a half inch (about two hours total cook time)
  11. Remove from the heat, allow to rest for about five minutes, slice and serve

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas


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