Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs

Maple Bourbon Apple BBQ Ribs recipe - easy homemade BBQ sauce and ribs great for summer and fall!

Maple Bourbon Apple BBQ Ribs, an easy homemade BBQ sauce and ribs recipe great for summer and fall! I will be the first to admit that I suffer from Type-A-Foodie-Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder at times. I know some of you out there are nodding your head in agreement.  I’m learning to accept my problem and work with it.  I wasn’t going to try this recipe idea until the fall.  Really, I wasn’t.  But I knew there was NO way that I could wait that long. NO WAY!  If I waited I would be thinking about this recipe idea ALL the time, waking up in the middle of the night, and driving everyone crazy!  I knew I had to make it and be done with it! I need sleep you know.  So glad I didn’t wait until fall because it really did surprise me and I think it would be great any time of the year.

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

When I was in Atlanta recently visiting the Dekalb Farmers Market with a friend he noticed a bottle of Apple Barbecue Sauce and I have to admit I didn’t think anything of it at that moment. Yep, sounded good, looked good, but back on the shelf it went. There was so much other stuff to look at and I was trying to get through the market quickly before my friend could whine about how slow I was being! I was also tired and in a daze so not much was being processed in my brian that day.  But afterwards, I kept thinking about that darn barbecue sauce! Why? I have no idea. It sounded good, although neither of us could remember who made it, what was in it, or anything else about it. That’s when I decided to set out and make my own apple barbecue sauce!  Who says you only have to have apples in the fall???

I found a few recipes online and decided to take what I liked and add my own twists. None of the flavors are really overwhelming in this sauce so if you’re thinking this is going to taste like apple pie, it doesn’t. Although if you WANT it to taste more like apple pie, by all means add more spices. You will however, pick up a faint apple, bourbon, maple, and spicy smokey sweetness. Since barbecue sauce is a personal preference you may have to play around with the spices and other ingredients to get it to your family’s liking. Although, this isn’t an OVERLY sweet barbecue sauce, I would probably add a little cayenne pepper or other type of pepper to give it a little more spiciness. But that’s just MY personal taste. You can have homemade barbecue sauce in about an hour! Although it’s better if it sits in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, you could definitely use it right away.  The recipe for the sauce makes a lot but it will freeze well, or cut the recipe in half.

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Ok, back to the recipe…

Start with some of your favorite apples.  I just happened to have a couple of granny smith and one Fuji in my fridge, but I’m sure other good baking apples would work just as well.

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

I found some small Vidalia onions in my grocery store this week so I used one of those and chopped it up with the apple.  Don’t worry if everything is not chopped perfectly.  You’re going to process it all together so no worries!

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

Heat some oil in a large saucepan and add the apples and onions.

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

When the apples and onions are soft add the vinegar, cider, bourbon, tomatoes (with liquid), and spices.

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

Simmer the sauce for about 30-60 minutes or until reduced and until the apples and onions are really soft.

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

Now it’s time to blend everything together.  I highly suggest using an immersion blender to make things a lot quicker, easier, and a lot less messy! You can get one fairly cheap.  But if you don’t have an immersion blender and don’t want one you can use a regular blender.  Just process in small batches and leave part of the lid off the blender for the steam to escape.  VERY IMPORTANT!  If you don’t let the steam escape you are going to have a BIG mess!  REALLY BIG!!!  Once everything is smooth, add in the maple syrup and liquid smoke and cook just a few more minutes until all together.

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

You might have to add a little more spices to your personal taste.  I personally would add something a little spicy such as cayenne pepper but the sauce was good as is.  As I mentioned, this recipe makes a lot of sauce!  So you can either cut the recipe in half, freeze the rest, or use it in other recipes.  I like to cook in big batches to save time later!

Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs Recipe |

Cook your Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs on the grill or oven.  When they’re just about done, baste the ribs with the sauce.  I used Country Style ribs, but you can use your favorite kind.  They don’t take long at all to cook so don’t overcook them!  Don’t baste too early or the ribs will burn!  This sauce would also be great mixed into some ground pork for bbq burgers, served over pulled pork for bbq sandwiches, or lots of other recipes!

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Maple-Bourbon Apple Barbecue Ribs
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: sauce makes about 7 cups
Homemade sweet BBQ sauce that is great on ribs.
  • 1 tablespoon oil (vegetable, canola, or olive oil is fine)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, & chopped
  • 1½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ cups apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 1 cup bourbon (or substitute more cider/juice)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Ribs (I used country style but any variety will work)
  1. Add oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and apple and cook about 5-7 minutes or until apples and onions are soft, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add vinegar, cider (or juice), bourbon, and tomatoes with liquid to pot. Stir to combine. Stir in salt, garlic powder, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice until combined.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for about 30-60 minutes or until reduced. Use an immersion blender to blend (or you can use a blender.  SEE NOTES BELOW).  Stir in maple syrup and liquid smoke to your liking. Cool completely and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight.
  4. Prepare ribs as desired on grill (or in oven). During last few minutes of cooking, baste ribs with sauce.
SNAPPY TIPS: I like to use real maple syrup. Start off with just 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke then add more based on your personal preference. I used the apples I had on hand which would be 2 granny smith and 1 fuji, but any good cooking apple would be fine. This recipe makes a lot of sauce, but you can cut it in half if you want less, or make the full recipe and freeze the rest. If you baste the ribs with the sauce too soon, they will burn, so be sure to baste only during the last couple of minutes.  If you use a blender to smooth the sauce, be sure to leave part of the lid off the blender if the liquid is hot and to process in small batches.  I highly suggest an immersion blender.

SNAPPY SUBSTITUTIONS: If you have apple pie spice on hand, you could use that instead of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. You could substitute cider/juice for the bourbon.

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  1. Lizzie B. says:

    Sounds delish, Lisa! Will try this sauce soon.

  2. laurielufkin says:

    This looks delicious!!!

  3. Never would have put that together on my own! Sounds good though! I love making my own bbq sauce, so I am going to have to give this one a try!

  4. I absolutely love ribs. I actually owned a BBQ restaurant with my husband back about 10 years ago. I never got tired of the ribs, or the BBQ. We have traveled quite a bit through around the country, and where ever there is a BBQ restaurant, you can find us eating the ribs. I can’t wait to try your sauce. The ingredients sound fantastic! Thanks for a great post!!

    • Snappy Gourmet says:

      Oh Teri, how fun to own a BBQ restaurant!!! I lived in Alabama for awhile and couldn’t get enough BBQ! Not much BBQ here in CT!

  5. This is a very unique and interesting sauce, it almost sounded like a jam to me :) LOL!
    By the way, it can only go with pork/meat? How about others, like seafood? :D

    • Snappy Gourmet says:

      Hi Christy! Some of the ingredients probably do sound like a jam, but I swear it doesn’t taste anything like a jam. Although I think this sauce would go best with pork, you can use the sauce anyway you like. Not sure it would go well with most seafood. Might be ok with some hearty/meaty kinds of fish. But if you’re not a meat eater, it would go well slathered on a veggie sandwich, topped on a veggie burger, or really anything you think it would go with. All a matter of opinion. :)

  6. This sounds like a great sauce that I would never think to make. I will be trying it this summer.

    • Snappy Gourmet says:

      I would have never thought of either if I hadn’t seen it in ATlanta. I think it’s a sign that I need to spend more time in Atlanta. :)

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