Smoked Rib Tips #EattheWorld

Smoked Rib Tips,  rubbed with a made from scratch barbecue spice and smoked until tender, lovingly swathed in a deep and  complex bbq sauce full of molasses.
Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce

Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

Smoked Rib Tips is my recipe of  the day for Eat the  World. We are sharing our  favorite soul food recipes  today to honor the Black  Lives Matter movement and  offer our  support.

Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce

Now I am not black, nor are my recipes as they are my own. I don’t want  anyone  to think I am  co-opting them  as part of their movement.

For myself, I was born in a very black community (East St. Louis IL) which  is about 80% black at last count and  currently live in Cincinnati  which has a fairly good sized community so feel  the larger  portion of my life has  been around that type of food.  From my neighbors  to restaurants offering up  some of the best, I have grown up loving soul  food.

And in my  life, soul food is never far from my kitchen.

My grandmother cooked up chitlins  and greens with frequency (although she passed on  before I was  born and my mother didn’t like cooking offal) so I didn’t get the benefit of recipes handed  down…from anywhere.

However, I have prepped my  own chitlins and cooked those.  I  have made other foods uniquely soul (and  peculiar to my area, like the BBQ snoot in St. Louis). And you can’t get those everywhere,  but Jungle Jim’s  had them  locally, so I bought and  also grilled some  of those up.

I  have made lots of other  things too. Chitlins aren’t  my favorite simply because they made the house smell and  the  snoot  didn’t capture my heart the way rib tips already own it.

Here in Cincinnati there are a number of restaurants that have soul food,  and  rib  tips are quite popular.

What are Rib Tips?

Precut rib tips

First you need to know a little  bit about  ribs. There are baby back ribs, back ribs  (beef)  and then the spare ribs.  Spare ribs in their whole form have two  sections:  the rib  part can be cut off and when it is, those are called St. Louis cut ribs. They are a little bigger than Baby Backs.

The flap  that was cut off are the rib tips. Rather than  the usual ribs bones, they have white cartilage inside. Although sometimes if you buy them cut a butcher might  throw in some of the smallest ribs off the end of the slab,  depending.

If you buy  the  rib  tips,  they  will come  already cut or your butcher might ask  you if you want him  to cut  those. I suggest leaving  the  tips whole if you can. Your chef knife will cut  right through when  they are done without  having  any of the  edges  overcooked.

What Aren’t Rib  Tips?

Now that you know what rib tips are, let me tell you  what they are not. They  are not,  in  fact, small ribs cut directly in half. Although I have seen this being  passed off  as tips.

And those things that Applebee’s used to sell as riblets,  those aren’t  rib tips either. Those are called button ribs and  come  from  an area off  the ribs section. The  bones are flat, and  sort of  remind me of artichoke leaves in bone  form.

Try to  avoid either of these  kind of “riblets” if you can.

Exploring Rib  Tips

Rib tips will  have the cartilage, and it  is the kind of food  where in between,  the  meat is  so  very tender. And  you will be exploring  with  your  fingers  to  get  every last  nibble. So  don’t  be afraid to  get  in there. Sort of the same way you have to dig in there to find all the good stuff on  things like  oxtails, trotters, neck bones or ham hocks.

Reminds me of Mom’s fried chicken.  When I was little the family would pass off the fried chicken necks I guess because I was the youngest and that’s the way the ball bounces. But I won’t complain. It taught me how to deftly get that meat out and enjoy  the  most tender parts. I  can do it with surgical  precision *laughs*. But I digress.

Pork Likes a Rib  Rub

bbq rub

I’ve stirred up a bbq rub  for  you as well, which is  pretty decent. How much you use might depend  if  the  tips were already  cut up  or  how much you apply. It’s easy to keep the extra  in a canning jar. Besides rib tips, it works on ribs, chicken  parts, chicken wings, beef ribs, brisket, pork steaks, whatever.

rib tips with bbq rub

Sweet Baby  Molasses Sauce

I make all my sauces from scratch, and  not  just  doctored ketchup. Although  I have used ketchup  on  occasion, mostly my sauces start from tomato  sauce. I  could start from  fresh tomatoes too, but  likely make some sauce from fresh  tomatoes because who  in their right mind will  go  to those ends every time? If you do  want to use ketchup, go ahead, and  you can fiddle with the  rest.

I make all kinds of sauces- depending how my  mood is. When I  lived  in St. Louis my Dad used to doctor up  Maull’s sauce. The area type was a zippy slightly vinegared one not too different  from Open Pit. Although  in that area, Memphis and KC sauces are popular too.

Different from Texas and Carolina  sauces.

I  move in between  them sometimes depending on the kind of meat or sometimes what  I have. This sauce I wanted to be molasses heavy. Just my mood that day. I also used beer, which I do a lot with  pork and  chicken. The other  ingredients  fell  into place as the sauce matured.  And by that I mean that a sauce changes flavor as it simmers. What it tastes like when it first heats can be  a lot  different from  what it  is when  it is done.

It’s very  good. I  have  contemplated calling  it one of my signature sauces.  I guess we will see.

Rib Tips on the Smoker

rib tips in the smoker

These rib tips were  done on  my  pellet smoker. I used hickory  pellets. As well, you could do this on  a hardwood smoker  or even on an  offset grill  using  charcoal or gas with smoker packs loaded with wood chips (soaked wood chips inside foil packets with a couple of holes).

The rib tips smoke for hours held at about 200F (180F-225F) ,  until the inside temp reaches 190F  inside. The outside of the meat achieves a deep  mahogany bark,  but it is not burnt. Look closely at the cracks and edges and you will see that it is just a lovely smoked bark which adds tons  of flavor.

The results are  smoky and juicy rib tips ready to be coated  in  some delicious sauce,  or just eaten as is.

Rib tips with mahogany bark

Eat the WorldSoul Food Recipes

Check out all the wonderful Soul Food dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Food to Soothe the Soul
Making Miracles: Sylvia’s Sweet and Sticky Baked Chicken Wings
Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Oven-Baked Ribs with Cola BBQ Sauce
Kitchen Frau: Smothered Pork Chops
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Red Beans and Rice
Palatable Pastime: Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce (You are Here!)
Sneha’s Recipe: Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Burritos
CulturEatz: Savannah Red Rice

Smoked Rib Tips

Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce

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Smoked Rib Tips

Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce

Sue Lau
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • Equipment: smoker or offset grill; hickory wood chunks or pellets


BBQ Spice Rub: (Yield 3 cups)

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce:

  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup lager beer
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun spice Slap Ya Mama
  • 1 tablespoon butter cuts down foaming

Rib Tips:

  • 3.5 pounds pork rib tips
  • 1.5 cups bbq rub see recipe above


  • Stir together rub in a bowl and rub on rib tips, either individual pieces or the sections.
  • Let rib tips come to room temperature.
  • Prepare smoker with hickory wood chunks or pellets.
  • Add rib tips to the smoker and smoke at a consistent range of 180F-220F for about 6-7 hours or until ribs probe to 190F on the inside.
  • Remove rib tips from smoker; rest about 15 minutes and serve with sauce if desired.
  • While ribs tips are smoking, prep the sauce.
  • Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan and simmer until sauce reduces to about 2-3/4 cups, about 30-45 minutes depending on heat level.
  • Whisk frequently while cooking.


From the kitchen of
Keyword BBQ Rib Tips, BBQ rub, Molasses bbq sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce

4 responses

  1. These sound absolutely wonderful Sue. My Pops would love these, he loved anything with meat stuck inside, the chicken necks were always his alone.

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