Gluten Free Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs Recipe

by Carol Kicinski on May 10, 2015

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So here is some really great news – chocolate is actually good for you!

Dark chocolate is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, and increase blood flow to the brain, which may prevent memory decline. Studies also show that consuming dark chocolate improves one’s mood, but we knew that already, didn’t we?

If you are looking for ways to incorporate more chocolate into your life (and seriously, you really should be!) look beyond just the sweet side of chocolate. There are many interesting ways to work some chocolate into savory dishes as well. And these cocoa rubbed ribs may be just the thing!

In addition to the fabulous rub on these ribs, I love this method of cooking my ribs – so, so simple! Basically the fridge and oven do most of the work, so you can spend your time doing something fun. Cooking ribs this way creates tender, fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth, juicy ribs every time. (To see photos on how to remove the membrane from ribs, click here.)

Recipe Notes: I used dark, unsweetened, organic cocoa powder and Wholesome! Organic Light Brown Sugar in this recipe. The chipotle chili powder adds more depth and smokiness in the quantity I used, rather than heat. If you want a little more kick to your rub, you can add more. But be careful not to add so much as to overpower the rest of the flavors. If you want even more smokiness, use smoked paprika instead of regular.


Gluten Free Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs Recipe


½ cup Wholesome! Organic Light Brown Sugar
¼ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
¼ cup paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 racks pork baby back ribs


Combine the brown sugar, cocoa powder, paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, and pepper in a small bowl.

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.

Coat the ribs on both sides generously with the mixture, reserving about ? of a cup. Wrap the ribs in foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 250ºF.

Place the ribs, still wrapped in foil, on a baking sheet and cook for 2½ – 3 hours or until the ribs are tender. Remove the ribs from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450ºF.

Place a wire rack on the baking sheet, remove the ribs from the foil, and place on the wire rack curved side up. Sprinkle half of the reserved rub on the top of the ribs and cook for 10 minutes. Flip the ribs over, sprinkle the rest of the reserved rub on top, and cook for another 10 minutes.


Serves 6

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Need a quick meal?

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Categories:    Main Dishes

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laurie May 12, 2015 at 1:13 am

Wow, Carol! These look fantastic! Using cocoa powder sounds interesting but I bet it’s delicious. Can’t wait to try this recipe!


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