Dry Rub BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Paleo Sauce & Slaw

I was mightily inspired upon waking Saturday morning. I’m going to do me some back ribs. This was a super fun undertaking and I’ve got a lot of photos for you. And remember, click on the images for the high resolution versions.

First thing I did was head over to get some ribs (Costco, $30). Then it was over to a BBQ Galore outlet to inquire about various dry rubs. Yep, spicy, not sweet. Then The Salt Lick is the only option, I was told.

So first step was to dry rub the ribs, both sides. I was pleased to see that the membrane on the back had already been removed. That’s a lotta ribs.

The Salt Lick Dry Rub
The Salt Lick Dry Rub

I let them sit for a good 30 minutes while I preheated the oven to 200F. Yep: low & slow. I then wrapped them individually in foil, set them back on the “cookie” sheets (their most superior use, nowadays) and tossed ’em in the oven for a four hour soak.

During that time I searched for paleo BBQ sauces and the Google Gods took me to Son of Grok’s BBQ sauce. The recipe is all at that link. It’s fun & easy to make. What I did differently was to use my Magic Bullet to puree the onion and garlic with 1/2 cup of the beef stock. At the end I did think it needed some slight touch of sweet, so I added first 1 tbsp molasses, then another. 32g of sugar for a 3-cup rendering. in most commercial sauces you have 16g of sugar for 2 tbsps. At 1/4 cup of my concoction, you’ll only get 2-3g of sugar. Acceptable, in my book.

Son of Groks BBQ Sauce
Son of Groks BBQ Sauce

At 3:45 I kicked it up to 250F and then shut off the oven at the four hour mark, and without opening the door, let them rest for an additional 30 minutes while I fired up the grill.

Finished to Finger Licking Perfection
Finished to Finger Licking Perfection

The grill was on low. I also saved the drippings from the foil wraps and using a brush I basted, turned, covered, based, turned, covered…letting them go about 5 minutes per side, about 3 cycles or so. For the final step I kicked it on hi, basted the tops heavily and browned them as you see.

Dig In
Dig In

And now for the meal. The slaw was courtesy of our loft neighbors, Robert & Julie. It’s an asian, ginger sort of affair; very little sugar as well (she said less than 1/4 of what the recipe called for). Update: see the comments for the slaw recipe Robert has now posted.

Baby Back Ribs Slaw
Baby Back Ribs Slaw

Finally, they were perfect in the sense that they don’t fall apart so you can actually finish them on the grill, but yet you can suck the meat right off the bone. No teeth required.

Dead Soldiers
Dead Soldiers

As far as I’m concerned, the Salt Lick dry rub is by far and away the very best I have ever used. I see no reason to ever use anything else. I love it when life gets really simple like that.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Son of Grok on June 7, 2010 at 16:11

    Glad you liked the sauce Richard and thanks for the link. On my occasional splurges where I make BBQ usually including some sweet potato fries, that sauce is a godsend.

    You are looking great in your recent pics by the way! Keep up the great work.

    The SoG

    • Richard Nikoley on June 7, 2010 at 16:16

      No, that you SoG.

      One thing I forgot to mention is that sauce is a great start for whatever you may want, from more sweet to more sour to more spicy. I did consider adding a bit of cayenne, but then tasted the meat and it already had plenty of heat.

      • Elliot on June 8, 2010 at 09:27

        How spicy is the dry rub?

      • Richard Nikoley on June 8, 2010 at 09:35

        I did a taste test and it’s pretty spicy. You can probably locate the ingredients on the website I linked to.

        Since it was pretty spicy I didn’t go hog wild on the rub, trying to really coat it on. I did a medium sprinkling. Turned out just right, and that was the opinion of all four of us eating it. On the other hand, we’re no strangers to pretty spicy foods.

        I often find in amazement how adverse so many people are to any level of heat. I grew up that way, as my mom doesn’t even like black pepper. She’d dip 1/8 of an inch of a tortilla chip in salsa. Ridiculous!

        Eating Mexican food got me interested in heat, and later, Thai & Indian. I can take quite a lot of heat.

      • Elliot on June 8, 2010 at 12:51

        I love spicy, but unfortunately my wife has a low tolerance for certain types of peppers, like jalapeños. Her throat starts to swell up just by walking past a bin of peppers in the store.

        I love spicy foods. The hottest I had was Indian food in Lubbock, when I went to eat with two colleagues who were of Indian and Vietnamese descent, respectively.

    • grace on June 9, 2010 at 18:32

      SoG — the sauce is GREAT! We sub’d ketchup for the tomato sauce (and it was plenty sweet). The kick is good even my youngest still ate up every bite despite the spices.

      Nikoley — very inspiring and easy recipe! The sauce was blended and it worked really fine. We just finished the baby off at dinner! [OK Yeah I did a lot of work…eating.]

  2. Chuck O on June 7, 2010 at 14:02

    I love the recipe for the slaw!

  3. Richard's Neighbor on June 7, 2010 at 14:43

    When my wife gets home from work, I’ll get the slaw recipe posted.

    The ribs were sublime.

  4. Lute Nikoley on June 7, 2010 at 16:34

    Damn, I shoulda stayed and extra day.

  5. Tim Starr on June 7, 2010 at 16:46

    Drool! 🙂

  6. Primal Toad on June 7, 2010 at 17:58

    I have never made bbq baby back ribs for myself… I think I might have to ASAP! Those look too damn good!

    • JimS on June 8, 2010 at 08:27

      Toadster, be sure to remove the membrane from the back of the rib slab before cooking.

  7. Richard's Neighbor on June 7, 2010 at 18:21

    Here’s that cole slaw recipe:

    1/2 head green cabbage shredded
    1/2 head red cabbage shredded
    1 tbsp salt
    Place in colander and place a plate on top of cabbage weight it with heavy cans or bag of sugar or flour, let drain at room temp. for an hour.
    Whisk together in a lg bowl until the sugar has disolved:
    1 cup rice vinegar
    1/4 c sugar
    2 tbsp minced ginger
    1 tsp red pepper flakes
    Rinse and drain cabbage and dry it well. Add it to the vinegar mixture along with:
    1c shredded carrots
    Toss well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours
    Serve cold and garnish w/cilantro

    The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar. But it was made with 1/4 cup.

  8. Chuck O on June 8, 2010 at 06:46

    Ribs and Slaw at the firehouse this week for the guys!

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  12. Jedidja on June 20, 2010 at 17:05

    For those of us who live in Canada (and just not the US in general), does anyone have any good rub recipes that might approximate The Salt Lick one? 🙂

    I checked their website and they only ship to the US unfortunately.

    • Jedidja on June 20, 2010 at 17:11

      1 cup kosher salt
      1 cup black pepper
      1/2 cup cayenne pepper
      1 cup granulated garlic

      (and perhaps a little celery salt/allspice)

      They claim it’s pretty close to the original.

  13. Wayne on June 24, 2010 at 14:06

    Have you made ribs like that in the Sous Vide Supreme instead of the oven? I wonder if they would turn out much different/better.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 28, 2010 at 07:46

      Haven’t yet done ribs in the SVS. I might give it a go come winter.

      • Mike on October 5, 2010 at 11:31

        I have done beef ribs in the svs. 3-4 ribs in a bag, salt and pepper. Cooked for 36 hours at 140 f leaves them still pink and yet very tender. I finish them on the grill over high heat for 1 minute on a side to get some extra flavor.

      • Richard Nikoley on October 5, 2010 at 11:43

        I simply have no idea how some of you SVS fans have thT sort of patience. 36 hours! I’d be clawing at the bags. At least with a crock pot you can get a taste now and then. 🙂

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