Main dish

Sorghum-mustard glazed ribs

Sorghum mustard glazed ribs DSC8930

The other day, a friend of mine commented about how hard it was to recreate barbecue without a yard. She’s a recent arrival to New York City from Texas and like many of us, she was shocked by the constraints we have in our tiny kitchens.

Now, I realize I was just talking about this recently, but it’s especially apparent this time of year when most everyone I know from back home is talking about firing up their smokers or sitting on their front porch snapping peas. These are the moments that you miss.

(Of course, there’s also that point in a Texas summer when it gets so darn hot that you might not even want to leave the safety of your air-conditioned house. But that’s another topic for another day.)

In any case, one of the things my friend commented on was how different it was to make ribs in the oven instead of in a smoker or on the grill. It is different, but that said there was an article in The New York Times a few years ago that argued oven ribs are superior to grilled ribs. For many, those were contentious words, but when you don’t have a grill you take whatever solace and support you can get.

Sorghum-mustard glazed ribs | Homesick Texan

Our conversation gave me a craving, so I swung by the store and picked up some racks to prepare for dinner. I have a couple of different ways I like to make my oven ribs. But as I was cleaning out my refrigerator and found a bottle of sorghum syrup hidden in the back, I thought it would make for an interesting glaze. (Why was the syrup in the refrigerator? Well, I’d stuck it there to keep it safe from ants. Again, another topic for another day.)

I wasn’t alone in this thinking, as Better Homes and Gardens had a recipe using it as well. Its recipe called for mustard and vinegar, both good ideas as they gave a tangy contrast to the syrup. I stirred in some brewed coffee and chipotle chile powder to increase the sauce’s smoky, bittersweet notes and also added some brown sugar for balance. For the final touch, after baking the ribs for a spell I poured in some of the meat’s juices into the sauce to give it that final burst of flavor.

Sorghum-mustard glazed ribs | Homesick Texan

The sorghum- glaze mellowed as it cooked on the ribs, giving them a sweet, caramel flavor with just enough brightness to not be cloying. They made my apartment smell tremendous, but even better was taking that first, juicy bite.

Now, you might be wondering if these taste like ribs made in a smoker. Nope, not one bit. But it doesn’t matter, as in their unique way these sorghum-mustard glazed ribs are just as good. And if you have a yen for ribs, they will definitely make you happy.

Sorghum mustard glazed ribs DSC8930
5 from 2 votes

Sorghum-mustard glazed ribs

Servings 4
Author Lisa Fain


Ingredients for the ribs:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 2 (1-pound) slabs St. Louis cut or baby back ribs

Ingredients for the sorghum mustard glaze:

  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons sorghum syrup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • Salt to taste


  1. To make a rub, mix together the salt, pepper, brown sugar, granulated garlic, mustard powder, smoked paprika and chipotle chile powder. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle each slab of ribs evenly with the rub and then double wrap with foil, making note of which side is the bone side. Refrigerate the ribs for 2-8 hours. (They’re good after 2 hours but even better after 8.)

  2. To bake, preheat the oven to 300° F and line two baking sheets with foil. Place the foil-wrapped ribs, bone side up, on the sheets, and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan stir together the brewed coffee, sorghum syrup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, chipotle chile powder and allspice. Cook on medium until the sugar has dissolved and then whisk in the mustard until well combined. (The mustard will probably break up a bit when you add it to the pot but a few turns of the whisk will incorporate it into the sauce.)

  4. After 1 hour and 30 minutes, remove the ribs from the oven. Gently open the foil (a lot of steam will escape, so be careful) and take 1/4 cup of the meat juices and stir them into the sauce. Adjust seasonings and add salt to taste.

  5. With tongs, remove the ribs from the foil and place back on the sheet, meat side up. Discard the foil that wrapped the ribs, as well as the remaining meat juices (unless you prefer to save the juices for another use).

  6. Brush the meat side of the slabs with the sauce and return to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes uncovered and then brush each slab with the sauce again. Cook for 30 more minutes. Remove from the oven, turn on the broiler, brush each slab with sauce and then cook under the broiler for 1-3 minutes, or until darkened and dark spots appear.

  1. Kim @ The Family Practice

    I don't really like ribs but I'm going to try this sauce on pork shoulder because it sounds really delicious!

  2. I like to oven bake mine at a slightly lower temp and for longer than your recipe, but suspect the results are by and large the same. One quibble though… I am of the mind the wrapping the ribs in foil ultimately steams them. I cover the racks loosely and prick holes in the foil to let the steam escape. Then (because I'm a suburbanite and can) finish them on the grill with a sauce not unlike your sorghum concoction, sub molasses for the sorghum. Yum.

    Ya think the steam thing has any merit? Or is it a tempest in a teapot?

  3. Lisa Fain

    Kim–It would be great on pork shoulder, too!

    Tim–I find that the foil keeps them moist and they get plenty dry once I take it off. I've never tried it your way so I have no opinion, but cook them however you prefer!

  4. Ooh, I like Kim's idea for using this sauce on pork shoulder, too!

  5. If you have a slow cooker, you might try cooking the ribs in that. Obviously, you can't dump the whole rack of ribs in the cooker, but I have made ribs in my slow cooker, and by the time they are finished, they are literally falling off the bone.

  6. Anonymous

    Are Sorghum syrup and sorghum molasses the same thing?

  7. DessertForTwo

    What a great-sounding recipe! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Lisa Fain

    Illeana–Isnt't that a good idea?

    Janus–Good to know!

  9. Lisa Fain

    Anon–Sorghum molasses is usually cooked longer, and much darker and robust than sorghum syrup.

    DessertForTwo–You're welcome!

  10. Anonymous

    Looks great! When we BBQ goat we use a Mustard Sauce that is basically melted butter and mustard with a taste of black pepper.

    Dr. Bubba

  11. Lisa Fain

    Dr Bubba–That sounds amazing. There's nothing quite like barbecue goat.

  12. I should also point out that when I cook ribs in my slow cooker, they are already cut into individual ribs. I've also used boneless beef ribs.

  13. kitchen spy

    i love your post and also bought your book; however the picture showing the finished ribs has baby back ribs photo and not st Louis. ribs which are flat. I too, would choose a loose covering, rather than steaming the ribs.

  14. Lisa Fain

    Kitchen Spy–The butcher said they were a St. Louis cut and they certainly looked like a St. Louis cut slab as most of the ribs were flat and long. And the baby backs he had were much smaller. Perhaps those ribs are curved because they're from the end—now I'm curious!

  15. Amy | Minimally Invasive

    And now I have an insane craving for ribs, even if it'll involve turning on the oven in this heat. No sorghum syrup in the house, but I do have a big stash of cane syrup, which I'll bet would make a decent substitute. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Lisa Fain

    Amy–Cane syrup will make a fine substitute!

  17. Jaronimo

    I used to cook them in the oven before I learned about smoking the ribs. They were different, but still came out great.

  18. Lisa Fain

    Jaronimo–Yep, oven ribs are nothing like smoked ribs but they both are good in their own ways.

  19. Allison Simpson

    Thank you for this article – my husband has always fancied himself the premier BBQ Jedi Master, with good reason, but this recipe sounds like something I can do, as it doesn't involve the grille. Wish me luck!

  20. Lisa Fain

    Allison–Good luck!

  21. Jill~a SaucyCook

    Extremely curious as to this mystery-to me-ingredient, Sorghum Syrup. I think I'll have to source it and try this glaze, as none of your recipes have ever let me down! Growing up in NY, I feel your pain at learning to live with a tiny kitchen and no yard to grill in, but I make ribs all winter in the oven and enjoy them as well. I tend to cook mine in a very low oven for a longer period of time and let the rub cook in and turn to a gooey paste on top.

  22. Robots in Trouble

    ohhh my hubby would so enjoy this!

  23. Erin @ Delightfully Southern

    My goodness. I love that you're using sorghum in the ribs, and I seriously cannot wait to make these babies because the sweet/spicy with the mustard sounds too good to be true.

    We're doing a Fourth of July recipe roundup at Delightfully Southern this morning, and I hope you don't mind that we are sharing this recipe in it. It looks too good to pass up for tomorrow! Thanks for sharing this!

  24. Lisa Fain

    Jill–In NYC, I can find it at Kalustyan and sometimes the Union Square Greenmarket. The syrup is made from sorghum and has a not-to-sweet , roasted flavor. If you've ever had wheat Chex cereal drenched in honey, that's kind of how it tastes.

    Robots in Trouble–If he loves ribs, he'll definitely love this.


  25. Ann from The Turquoise Table

    Your rib recipe sounds delicious. I really miss Texas BBQ. Whenever I think of ribs, my memories bring me back to a place near or in Bandera, Tx that serves the BEST bbq. I think it's Busbee's (looking at a photo of the place on-line). I usually do my ribs in a slow cooker (slab cut in half) with an Asian twist- they come out so tender and flavorful. Happy 4th everyone!

  26. Having Fun in the Texas Sun

    Gonna have to give it a go. As summer presses on, and the dry, windy weather continues, it's not possible to use our smoker because of fire hazards. Thanks!

  27. I sing the pleasures of sorghum and dark cane syrup all the time. I'm so lucky to live in the South and have reasonable access to these ingredients. I think that if I were relocated, I'd order online!

  28. Carl Moore

    Hi Lisa,

    I read through the comments and you probably answered my question (question from Amy). I have Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup on hand (been using it since I was a kid on everything…basically a family tradition). Would that work in lieu of the sorghum syrup, although I imagine cane syrup is a little sweeter? I googled for the sorghum syrup and you have to order it online as I can’t find any stores that carry it.


    • Lisa Fain

      Hi Carl—Yes, you can substitute cane for the sorghum. It’s a little sweeter but will still be good.

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