After falling in love with how Nashville Hot Chicken and Maple Syrup worked together on Chicken Lollipops, I decided to venture even further out with these Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs. Classically smoked ribs using the 3-2-1 cooking method, but this time we seasoned in Cajun Seasoning, used maple syrup instead of honey in the crutch and glazed with a BBQ Sauce and maple syrup combo. It is spicy, sweet and freaking delicious. Let’s dive in!
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Maple Syrup goes with Everything… Kinda
A couple of weeks ago, I made some Maple Nashville Hot Chicken Lollipops that blew my mind. However, it started me down a path of believing that maple syrup can make everything taste better. The truth is, it really can! Just like Buddy the Elf, maple syrup is magically in making savory, spicy and even sweet food taste delicious. So why not try it on pork ribs?
I have a tendency to try abnormal flavor profiles on food; moreover, I love it on pork like these Smoked Honey Teriyaki Ribs. Using lessons I learned from that and the chicken lollipops, we ventured into this dish: the Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs.
It is spicy, sweet and a little herbal. Cajun seasoning traditionally has lots of dried herbs as well as the kick of spicy peppers. I thought that the maple syrup might not work as well as it did in my mind, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well they comboed. Let’s dive into how we cooked these Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs.
How did we cook these Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs
Almost all the time when I am cooking ribs, I do the 3-2-1 method. Taught to me by Christie Vanover from Girls Can Grill (and boy she can grill), it is an “almost” foolproof method to making delicious ribs. Smoking at 250-275F, we will first use a binder layer of spicy mustard then season our ribs with the Cajun Blackening Rub from Spiceology. Feel free to use whatever Cajun Seasoning you enjoy!
Next, we are going to add the seasoned ribs to the smoker to cook for 3 hours. I like to spritz them with apple cider vinegar and hot sauce every 30 minutes so that we keep moisture on them. You don’t need to do this, but it does help keep the ribs moist as they cook. After 3 hours, we will start our crutch process. This is the part where we speed up the cooking process by adding butter, brown sugar and maple syrup to foil and covering our ribs in them. This helps to retain moisture while getting the ribs tender. Add the ribs back onto the smoker in the foil and cook for 2 more hours.
Finally, we will pull the ribs off the smoker and discard the foil. Adding them back on, I kick up the heat in the smoker to 375F. Over the fire, we will make a mixture of your favorite bbq sauce and some maple syrup. We will then glaze these Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs in the glaze and let them cook for another 30 minutes until they are ruby red and tacky on the outside. Now, let’s eat!
Time to Enjoy!
Once your Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs are done, we will rest them and then slice them up. These are a fun weekend cook, dinner for two or just something fun to teach your kids. Paired with some Mac & Cheese and Coleslaw for the full experience. Cheers!
Maple Cajun Smoked Ribs
- 3 Baby Back Pork Ribs
- 2.5 tbsp of Cajun Seasoning
- 1.5 tbsp of Spicy Mustard for binder
- ½ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tsp of Hot Sauce
- 9 tbsp of Butter unsalted
- 2 tbsp of Maple Syrup
- 6 tsp of Brown Sugar
- 1 cup of your Favorite BBQ Sauce
- ⅛ cup of Maple Syrup
- Carefully remove the membrane on the back of the ribs. Lather with spicy mustard and season with Cajun Seasoning thoroughly. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to set.
- Preheat your smoker for indirect cooking around 250F. Add some wood chips or wood chunks to the smoker for added flavor.
- Add the ribs to the smoker on the indirect heat side. Cook for 3 hours. Mix in a squirt bottle apple cider vinegar and hot sauce. Every 30 minutes, spritz the ribs.
- After 3 hours, pull your ribs off the smoker. Lay down a layer of aluminum foil with 3 tbsp of butter spaced out on the foil. Add some brown sugar and drizzled maple over the butter. Top the butter mixture with one of the pork ribs with the bone side facing up. Add more butter, maple syrup and brown sugar on top of the rib. Carefully wrap in the foil until tight and secure. Repeat this step for all of the pork ribs.
- Once done wrapping, add the ribs back to the smoker with bone side facing up. Cook for another 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, unwrap the ribs and discard the foil. Place all the ribs back on the smoker and increase the heat to 375F. Add a basting skillet over the coals or on the hot side of the smoker. Add the bbq sauce and maple syrup for your glaze. Glaze the outside of the ribs until completely covered with the sauce. Continue to cook the ribs for another 30-45 minutes until they are caramelized on the outside but tender on the inside.
- Once done, pull the ribs off and let rest for 3-5 minutes. Slice and enjoy!