Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Blueberry Marinade

There's just nothing like baby back ribs. Chef Alfred Julian takes it to a whole new level with this recipe, marinating the ribs in a homemade blueberry marinade. Don't miss this one, and learn more about blueberries in our featured ingredient article written by Registered Dietitian Leah Judice.

Grilled Baby Back Ribs

By Chef Alfred Julian
Serves 4



2 slabs baby back ribs

Tenderizer (no salt added recommended; approximately 1 teaspoon per slab), optional

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons mustard 

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder 

1 tablespoon onion powder

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh black pepper, to taste

1 deep dish aluminum pan, recommended 


3 cups fresh blueberries

4 tablespoons locally sourced, unfiltered honey

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

4 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 ½ whole chipotle peppers, minced

½ cup water

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup ketchup 

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh black pepper, to taste


Peel back the membrane from the ribs to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat during the marinating process. To start peeling back the membrane, slice the end of the slab with a sharp knife and pull back with consistent pressure. After stripping the membrane, rub both sides of the ribs with mustard so that they are fully coated. Sprinkle with tenderizer, if using. Place in a deep aluminum pan and cover. Place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. 

Preheat gas grill to 300℉, then wipe down grates with olive oil. Remove ribs from refrigerator. 

While the grill heats, in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat, add the blueberries, honey, and water. Cook until the blueberries burst, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, break up the blueberry skins and emulsify until well combined. Place back on medium-high heat and add the brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, garlic, and chipotle peppers. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently for approximately 8-10 minutes.. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Sprinkle the marinated ribs with the chili, garlic, and onion powder and salt and pepper to taste. Place the ribs directly on the hot grill and cook for about 2 hours or until the ribs are fork-tender. Check periodically to ensure ribs do not burn. Remove ribs, place in aluminum foil, and baste with sauce. Close foil and place back on the grill for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, open the top of the foil to vent, and let ribs cool about 10 minutes. Serve with a side of the sauce. 

Chef Tips:

  • • Do not add salt during the marinade process

  • • Sprinkle seasonings evenly on a flat surface, then lay the ribs on top of seasoning to ensure equal disbursement of flavors

  • • Check grill for hot spots, move ribs away from the area to ensure they do not burn

baby back ribs with marinade