Cranberry Glazed BBQ Pork Ribs

Not traditional but still with those festive flavors you're after, sweet savory cranberry glazed pork ribs.
cranberry glazed bbq pork ribs

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If you’re looking for a holiday dinner that isn’t traditional but still has some festive flavor, look no further! Smoked cranberry glazed BBQ pork ribs are a delicious and crowd-pleasing option.

We’ve all been there. You’re in charge of the holiday cooking this year, but you don’t want to go the conventional route of a turkey or a prime rib roast. 

Here’s your solution! Fire up the smoker, throw some rib racks on, and whip up this cranberry BBQ sauce.

Smoke one rack or five; it’s not labor-intensive, and the results are worth it.

Cranberry Glazed BBQ Ribs

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Ribs – I prefer using spareribs, but this recipe will absolutely work with baby backs. 
  • BBQ Pork Rub – any BBQ pork rub will work if you’re not too heavy-handed. You don’t want to overpower the glaze. I used Fiesta Brand Orange Pepper rub that I highly recommend as it has orange in it which is complimentary to cranberry. The pepper also adds a good bit of spice.
  • Mustard
  • Cranberry sauce – cranberry sauce, honey, ketchup, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, orange, garlic, ginger, S&P.
ingredients for cranberry glaze

Equipment you’ll need

How to make Cranberry Glazed BBQ Ribs

1. Fire up the smoker

Preheat your smoker to 275°F.

2. Prep

Trim any excess fat from your ribs if necessary and remove the membrane from the back. 

membrane being pulled from pork rib

Coat and rub the ribs on both sides with mustard. I don’t think binders are usually necessary, but since we’re using mustard in the sauce, I like matching up the flavors.

orange pepper rub for ribs

Season both sides of the ribs with your chosen rub

3. Smoke

Place ribs on the smoker bone side down.

seasoned raw ribs on the smoker

After the first hour, spritz every 45 minutes or so. Any liquid works for spritzing and doesn’t really add flavor.

ribs on the smoker being spritzed
To keep with the theme, I spritzed with cranberry juice.

I prefer to smoke my ribs at a higher temperature, spritz for moisture, and not bother with wrapping. If you prefer to wrap your ribs, just sauce as you normally would after unwrapping. 

4. The sauce

Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet or saucepan. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant.

Add all other sauce ingredients and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until mixture is reduced.

Don’t skip the slow simmer; the ingredients need time to meld together, and this will thicken the sauce.

Remove the sauce from the heat after half an hour, and let it cool completely to room temperature.

If you want a smooth sauce, add it to the blender and blend it for about a minute until you get the desired consistency. 

a bowl of cranberry glaze

For ribs, I prefer a smooth and glossy finish. But if you want to leave pieces of berry in the sauce use the whole berry canned sauce and skip the blending step.

5. Sauce them

When the ribs are nearing done to your preference, that is the time to sauce.

I prefer a clean bite-through with a bit of tug. Some people prefer fall-off-the-bone. I look for the meat pulling back off the bones about ¾” and an easy ‘L’ shaped bend with just a bit of resistance.

ribs on the smoker being glazed

Mop or brush with the cranberry BBQ sauce, then continue smoking for another 20 minutes or so until the sauce sets into that glossy red sheen. 

Remove from the smoker, make sure you let them rest for about 15 minutes, then slice, serve, and enjoy!

Festive sides to serve with your ribs

cranberry glazed bbq pork ribs

Cranberry Glazed BBQ Ribs

Smoked pork ribs glazed with a festive flavored cranberry sauce.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 970kcal
Author: Caressa Woodward

Ingredients

  • 1 rack pork ribs
  • 2 tbsp BBQ pork rub
  • 2 tbsp mustard

Cranberry glaze

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • ½ tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 15 oz cranberry sauce smooth or whole berry
  • cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • ½ Navel Orange juice only
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat your smoker to 275°F.
  • Trim any excess fat from your ribs if necessary and remove the membrane from the back.
  • Coat the ribs on both sides with mustard, then season both sides of the ribs with the rub.
  • Place ribs on the smoker and spritz with liquid of choice every 45 minutes or so.
  • When the ribs are almost done (meat is pulling back from the bone, and the rack is bending easily), brush the cranberry BBQ sauce onto the ribs and smoke for an additional 20-30 minutes until the sauce is set.
  • Remove from the smoker, rest, slice, and drizzle with more sauce if desired.

Cranberry glaze

  • Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add all other sauce ingredients and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until mixture is reduced.
  • Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then blend to a smooth consistency.

Nutrition

Calories: 970kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 182mg | Sodium: 739mg | Potassium: 841mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 58g | Vitamin A: 408IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 6mg
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