Chipotle and Lime Smoked Ribs

A couple days ago, the rain stopped, the sun came out from behind the clouds and I knew it was an opportunity for me to do some cooking on the deck. I got some pork back ribs and fired up my Bradley smoker and grill. I was already planning on making guacamole with my recipe found here so I tried to think of a rib recipe that would compliment it well. I have made ribs so many times but I have never made a southwest, tex-mex version.

I had a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and a few limes that I figured would be a great combination to make the sauce for the ribs. While the ribs were smoking I made the sauce. It had a nice kick to it with the chipotle peppers but had a deep sweetness with the brown sugar, honey and molasses. The lime juice and lime zest gave the sauce a bright freshness as well. It turned out great and I knew it would taste awesome on the ribs!

I also used my Basic BBQ Rub but added some extra cumin to give it more of a southwest flavour. My way of cooking ribs is doing what is called the 3-2-1 method. This is done by smoking it for 3 hours, baking it for 2 hours while covered and with some juice and finally grilling it for one hour with the sauce on it. This 3-2-1 method creates a moist, fall off the bone, rack of ribs and tastes incredible.

Peel off the membrane on the underside of the rack of ribs. Generously rub the BBQ rub on the the ribs before smoking. Let the rub penetrate in the meat for an hour or as long as you can before smoking it.

I used hickory wood pucks in my smoker. It is possible to smoke the ribs on your gas grill. The instructions for that will be below in this post. I grilled these with both the chipotle lime sauce and standard BBQ sauce. Janna, Eli and Mary are not a fan of really hot food.

Squeezing some lime juice on the ribs before eating enhances the chipotle and lime BBQ sauce.

Chipotle and Lime Smoked Ribs

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 racks of back ribs
  • 1 cup of Basic BBQ rub
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (212g or 7.5 oz)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 yellow pepper diced
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 3 limes juiced
  • 1 cup apple juice


  • Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs. Mix the premade BBQ rub with the ground cumin. Rub the rub all over the ribs. Put the ribs back in the fridge for at least an hour to let the rub penetrate into the meat.
  • Preheat the smoker for 225F. Using Hickory wood pucks or chips, smoke the ribs for 3 hours.
  • These are directions to smoke the ribs on your gas grill. Setup your barbecue for indirect grilling. To do this place a metal pan or tray under the grill where the ribs will cook. Fill the pan 3/4 full of water. The water helps the ribs ‘slow cook’ and keeps the heat down. How to make a smoker pouch: Make a pouch of aluminum foil and fill with the wood chips. Close the foil pouch and poke a few times with a knife so the smoke can escape. Place the pouch, under the grill in the barbecue but not right under where the ribs will be. Heat the barbecue to about 225 F. Place the ribs on the grill and and close the lid. Cook for about 2-3 hours. If after the first 2 hours the ribs are looking well cooked and browning, it may be best to remove them from the grill.
  • While the ribs are smoking, make the chipotle and lime BBQ sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and pepper and fry until they soften. Add the can o chipotle peppers, tomato paste, brown sugar, honey, molasses, lime zest and lime juice. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Blend in a food processor until smooth.
  • Once the ribs have finished the 3 hours in the smoker it is time to move them onto the 2 stage. Place the ribs in a roasting pan, add the apple juice and cover the pan with a lid or foil. Bake in a 225F oven for 2 hours.
  • Remove from the ribs from the oven. Place on the BBQ set for 250F. Baste the ribs with the chipotle lime sauce and cook on e grill for 30-60 minutes. Watch that they do not flare up, char up or burn.
  • Serve with lime wedges.



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Recipe Rating


  • 5 stars
    So good! never seen lime paired so well with smoked ribs. I must try this!

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  • Fantastic sounding ribs. Great combination of flavors.


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  • Those are some mighty awesome looking ribs Steve! I’ve been thinking about getting a Bradley smoker myself. Right now, i’m using the Webber Smoky Mountain.

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    • I love my Bradley Smoker. I got the digital one. It is so easy to smoke stuff. I am so happy with my purchase! Just got it this spring. I have done so many things in it already.

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  • LOVE these flavors Steve! We use any chance that we get to grill or smoke meat. We had a couple feet of snow on the ground last year but the patio was clear and my husband was grilling!

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  • Your 3-2-1 method sounds amazing — will definitely try it next time we fire up our smoker. Thanks for the southwest twist on a Southern favorite! 🙂

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  • This looks so good.

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  • uuuummmmm….bbq ribs….drooling!

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  • These ribs look amazing! Love the flavors too!

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  • Oooh-I may have to give that old smoker another workout-these look awesome. The southwest twist here is very agreeable with this Texan. Well done and wonderfully smoked-yum!

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  • Bringing back the taste of summatime! Love it!

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  • Oh man, that looks way too delicious. I shy away from ribs because they’re so hard to get right!

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  • Er, when can I stop by for some of these? Think it would be worth the 4 hour trip. Lol! These are killer ribs. Love them. I am now off to beg hubs for my own smoker.

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    • The smoker is amazing. I got it this spring and couldn’t be happier. Before I had smoked ribs in my BBQ but it is not the same as they have too many places where the heat and smoke escape. I got mine at Canadian Tire and they are often on sale different times throughout the year.

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