Gluten Free Cherry Cola Ribs Recipe

Post image for Gluten Free Cherry Cola Ribs Recipe

by Carol Kicinski on January 8, 2011

I once had ribs so tender, so moist, so fall-off-the-bone-melt-in-your-mouth amazing I just had to know how they were made. This ancient, grumpy geezer had made them and he must have been a former CIA agent because this guy knew how to keep a secret.

I tried complimenting, begging, pouting and even a little flirting but the old guy was not budging. I can however be persistent when I want to and I finally wore him down. I think it may have been the Demi Moore tears, the quivering lower lip and the fact that somehow he wrongly got the impression I had only months to live and just had to know his secret before I passed on. I have no idea how he came to that conclusion.

Turns out the secret to his tender juicy ribs was marinating them in Coke overnight. Something about the carbonation and sugar breaks down the pork protein and tenderizes the heck out it.

Combine a nice long soak in a cola bath with slow roasting in a warm oven and a sticky, sweet, cherry infused, mildly spicy, kick you-know-what glaze and these ribs are out of this world. In fact I just stole the Rib Master of the Universe title from my husband. My husband’s ribs are truly amazing but they take hours of hands-on preparation time, 27 ingredients and a day of sweltering to prepare. Mine have maybe 15 minutes total of hands-on work and my kitchen appliances do all the heavy lifting.

So grab a bunch of napkins and prepare yourself for fall-off-the-bone-melt-in-your-mouth amazing Cherry Cola ribs!

Insert a dinner knife between the bone and membrane that covers the back of the ribs and peel the membrane off. This will ensure your ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender.

Place ribs in baking or roasting pan and pour over the cola. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge overnight or up to a day.

It is best to have the ribs bone side down so the meat is submerged. Remove the ribs and pour the cola into a large, heavy saucepan.

Pat the ribs dry with paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Wipe out the baking or roasting pan.

Return ribs to baking dish or roasting pan, cover with foil and bake in a 275 degree oven for 3 – 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

When done the ribs will be sticking out like a twenty-something, anorexic Hollywood starlet.

Puree the maraschino cherries (juice and all) in a blender or small food processor. Add the pureed cherries to the pan with the cola and add some chili garlic sauce, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil.

The protein from the meat (from marinating the ribs) will form into a scum at the top of the sauce as it boils, skim this off. Cook until reduced down to about a cup and very thick – about an hour, stir it once on a while.

It will look something like this. Reserve until the ribs are done baking.

Place ribs on a baking sheet, bone side down and brush with the glaze – be generous!

Bake for 5 minutes in a 500 degree oven or broil – watch carefully so that the glaze does not burn.

Grab a bunch of napkins and dig into the most succulent, sticky, sweet, spicy, fall-off-the-bone tender ribs you have ever eaten!

Gluten Free Cherry Cola Ribs Recipe


5 pounds baby back ribs
1 – 2 liter bottle Cola
Salt & Pepper
1 – 10 ounce bottle maraschino cherries without stems
1 -2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 – 4 tablespoons brown sugar – optional


Flip the ribs bone side up and insert a dinner knife just under the white membrane that covers the meat and bones. Gently peel the membrane off. Place ribs in a baking dish or roasting pan and pour the cola over. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Remove the ribs from the cola, reserving the cola for the sauce. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Pour the cola into a saucepan, wipe of the baking dish or roasting pan and return the ribs to the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 3 – 3 ½ hours or until the meat is very tender.

While the ribs are baking, make the glaze. Puree the maraschino cherries, with the juice, in a blender or small food processor. Add to the cola in the sauce pan. Add 1 teaspoon of chili garlic sauce, the mustard, vinegar and ½ teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil, uncovered until the liquid reduces down to about 1 cup and is very thick. Skim the foam off the top of the mixture occasionally and stir once in a while. When the mixture is reduced and thick, taste it – you may want to add some more chili garlic sauce if you like it spicier and some brown sugar if you want it sweeter – this is to taste. Also check to see if it needs more salt and pepper. Reserve glaze until the ribs are done.

When the ribs have finished baking in the oven, remove and turn the heat up to 500 degrees (or you can use the broiler – turn to high). Place ribs on a baking sheet, bone side down, and brush the glaze liberally over the top. Cook or broil for about 5 minutes, watching to make sure the glaze does not burn.


Serves 4-6

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Categories:    Main Dishes

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

As Good As Gluten January 8, 2011 at 10:54 am

These look AMAZING!!! Can't wait to try them.


Kim-Cook it Allergy Free January 9, 2011 at 10:25 am

Holy Moly, lady! These look amazing. Glad you have recovered from your mysterious "months to live" illness. LOLI do one a little bit similar, but it is a dry rub that you rub all over them overnight and wrapped in foil. Then slow/low bake in the same foil for 3 hours. You uncover and brush my home-made sticky sweet bbq sauce over at end on broil.However, now that I see this one, I can only imagine that my boys would be in COMPLETE HEAVEN!! I will totally try this one out. Miss you! Hope you are doing well! xoxok


Carol, Simply Gluten Free January 31, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Miss you too and yes, I have had a full recovery :)


gfe--gluten free easily January 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

Haha on what you'll do to get a recipe! Sounds like the best use for coke yet, Carol! Those photos are amazing. We are a rib family for sure. I used to love cherry Pepsi "back in the day." Will have to make these … maybe for Super Bowl. ;-)xoxo,Shirley


Carol, Simply Gluten Free January 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Oh the lenghts I will go to for a great recipe!


The InTolerant Chef January 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I sooo love ribs! My husbands recipe sounds like your husbands, dry rub, vacumm sealing, braising, BBQing, and boiling the sauce for many hours. I love the simplicity of these, and cola marinating really does work it's magic!


Maggie January 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Oh, tese are perfcet for my super bowl party! I thank you, my husband thanks you and I am sure my guests will thank you!


Donna January 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I haven't even had breakfast yet and want these ribs!


Kelly January 11, 2011 at 8:49 am

I'm drooling!


Diane-The WHOLE Gang January 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Oh wow, I'm drooling all over my computer. OK, I'm moving next door to you.


Carol, Simply Gluten Free January 31, 2011 at 7:36 pm

The house next door is for sale right now – I’m just saying…:)


Anonymous January 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

You crack me up! These ribs are to die for – must try them!


Rachel January 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

You’re a complete nut that I adore. I’m going to have to take a look at the whole cola thing. We’re new to gf living and one of my kids has multiple allergies. These ribs make me drool just from a photo. I’m really excited to try them out.


Carol, Simply Gluten Free January 31, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Thanks Rachel! Let me know if you need any help with your gluten free diet, I am sure the benefits will be well worth the effort of learning how to live gf.


Leslie January 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I made these a couple of days ago. Melt in your mouth, and so good! Thank you!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free January 31, 2011 at 7:26 pm

You are so welcome!


Dee February 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Made these for Valentine’s Day family dinner. So tender, moist & more importantly – EASY! Great gf receipe. Thanks for posting!!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 14, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your family!


Lauren @ As Good As Gluten April 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I made these for the April Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event and they were fantastic!


Carol Kicinski May 3, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Thanks Lauren. I had to fight off the people around here to get the photos taken because they just wanted to eat them!


Michelle W. August 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Just made these! Got the recipe from here and had to say! Yum!!! The reduction in the sauce took longer than I thought but, well worth the wait!


Nancy July 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm

This looks awesome! thanks for sharing.


Carol Kicinski July 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thank you so much, enjoy!


Tina Klein January 11, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I would switch the cola to a Natural Sugar cola. No HFCS. :)


Carol Kicinski January 12, 2013 at 6:30 am

Good idea!


Kate March 21, 2013 at 8:10 am

Just had family over for a few days and tried this meal out and lets just say….mmmmmm was absolutely delicious and went down a treat. Thanks for a great recipe Carol!


Carol Kicinski March 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm

My pleasure Kate, so happy you all enjoyed it!


Maddie Schmalz April 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I was wondering what kind of coke you are using, as most coke has carmel coloring in it which contains gluten. And if you know where to get it with out it, because I would love some cola.


Carol Kicinski April 22, 2013 at 7:41 am

I use Coca Cola -I called the company and they confirmed that Coke is gluten free


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