2-2-1 BBQ Baby Back Ribs With a Cherry Glaze

Amp up the flavor of your baby back pork ribs with this sweet tart cherry glaze.
2-2-1 Cherry BBQ Pork Ribs

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For all you cherry lovers out there, get ready to indulge in a delightful blend of tangy cherries and smoky flavors with these mouthwatering cherry-glazed BBQ pork ribs. 

Using the 2-2-1 method, these ribs are carefully smoked to perfection, with a touch of sweetness and the beautiful aroma of cherry wood.

Get ready to impress your family and friends with this finger-licking, crowd-pleasing recipe.

2-2-1 Smoked Baby Back Pork Ribs

2-2-1 is a twist on the popular 3-2-1 method for bbq ribs. This method breaks the process down into three phases:

  • Smoke the rubs for two hours
  • Wrap the ribs with a mix of butter, honey, and sugar and smoke for a further two hours
  • Unwrap, glaze the ribs and then smoke for a final hour

Using the 2-2-1 method can work well when you’re smoking baby back ribs and don’t want your ribs to completely fall-off-the-bone.

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Baby Back ribs
  • Yellow mustard
  • Butter – unsalted.
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar
  • BBQ rub – I’m using Cherry Republic BBQ Rub, which has a nice balance of spices mixed together with cherry powder. For more easy to find option, you can’t go wrong with Heath Riles BBQ Cherry Seasoning.
  • BBQ sauce – For the sauce, I used Traeger’s Sugar Lips BBQ sauce, a sweeter BBQ sauce that compliments the cherry flavor really well.
  • Spritz – 50/50 mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part apple juice or water.

Equipment you’ll need

  • Smoker 
  • Wood – Since these are cherry ribs, cherry wood is what I recommend. The cherry wood will add a mild and slightly sweet flavor that compliments the cherry-themed ribs. However, you can also use apple or hickory wood if you can not find cherry wood.
  • Instant read thermometer
  • BBQ Sprayer
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum foil or butcher paper.

How to make 2-2-1 Cherry Glazed BBQ Ribs

1. Fire up the Smoker

You want to heat up your smoker to 250°F and set up your smoker with cherry wood.

The cherry wood will impart a mild and slightly sweet flavor that compliments these cherry-themed ribs. However, you can also use apple or hickory wood if you can’t find cherry wood.

2. Prep the Ribs

Start by removing any excess moisture and patting your ribs dry.

Most ribs will still have the silver skin on the back (Costco ribs come with them already removed), so you can either peel the silver skin off using a knife or your fingers. If unsure, check out our article on How to Remove the Membrane.

Alternatively, if you don’t remove the silver skin, you can score it to help the flavors penetrate better. 

3. Season

raw baby back ribs rubbed with mustard binder

Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with a thin layer of yellow mustard or olive oil. This will be your binder and help the seasoning stick better.

Generously sprinkle BBQ rub over the ribs, making sure you cover the ribs entirely.

raw baby back ribs with seasoning

4. Smoke

Once your smoker has reached 250°F, place your rib meat side up on the grates and close the lid.

raw seasoned baby back ribs on the grill

You will want to let these smoke for 2 hours, spraying them every 45 minutes to keep them moist.

I like to use a mix of 50/50 apple cider vinegar and apple juice, but you can also use water.

a hand holding a spitzing bottle, spraying ribs

5. Wrap

Lay out a couple of sheets of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap each rack in.

Take your butter, honey, and brown sugar and evenly add them to sheets of aluminum foil.

butter, brown sugar and honey on aluminum foil
I like to take cubes of butter and space them across (4 per sheet), then drizzle the honey across and sprinkle the brown sugar on top of it all.

After 2 hours of smoking, remove the ribs from the smoker. 

Place your ribs, meat side down, directly on top of the butter, honey, and sugar. Tightly wrap your ribs in the foil to create a sealed package. Make sure to check that there are no openings or rips.

foil wrapped ribs being placed in the smoker
This wrapping step will help tenderize the meat and infuse it with all that buttery sweetness.

Place your wrapped ribs back in the smoker and smoke for another 2 hours.

6. Glaze

Remove the ribs from the smoker and open up the foil. Carefully place your ribs, meat side up, back into the smoker, directly on the grates.

Brush a generous layer of Sugar Lips BBQ sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce) over the ribs. 

baby back ribs on the grill being drizzled with bbq sauce

Close the lid and cook for a final 30 minutes to 1 hour. The internal temperature of the ribs should reach around 195°F to 203°F, and the sauce set and sticky.

7. Serving them up

Remove the ribs from the smoker and let them rest for at least 10 minutes. Resting your ribs will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the entire rib.

After they have rested, slice the ribs between the bones and serve them with your favorite BBQ sides. Enjoy!

So many ways to make ribs

2-2-1 Cherry BBQ Pork Ribs

2-2-1 BBQ Baby Back Ribs With a Cherry Glaze

Baby back ribs cooked low and slow with a sweet tangy cherry glaze.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 6
Calories: 747kcal
Author: Joe Clements


  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • cup yellow mustard
  • ½ cup Cherry BBQ Rub
  • 1 stick butter unsalted
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup Sugar Lips BBQ sauce or your preferred BBQ sauce


  • Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 250°F with cherry wood.
  • Pat the ribs dry using paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs.
  • Add your mustard as a binder and season with Cherry Republic BBQ Rub, coating all sides.
  • Place ribs, meat side up, in the smoker. Smoke for 2 hours, spritzing every 45 minutes with 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and apple juice.
  • Lay out two sheets of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap a rack of ribs in. Put half the butter, honey and brown sugar down the middle of each sheet.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker and place on aluminum foil, meat side down, on top of butter, honey, and brown sugar. Wrap tightly and place the ribs back into the smoker for another 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, remove the ribs from the smoker and open up the foil. Carefully place the ribs back into the smoker, meat side up. Brush with the BBQ sauce on top and smoke for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice in between the bones, serve and enjoy!


Calories: 747kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 720mg | Potassium: 732mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1142IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 279mg | Iron: 9mg
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