Rib of the Week: Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter

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There’s nothing like coating something in butter. I know it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but man, is it good.

For this dish, meaty, country-style pork ribs get frosted with a pungent whiskey butter, then dappled with fresh cranberries, garlic, and earthy sage.

They get basted a few times as they roast with a broth of whiskey-butter that’s been infused with a little sumptuous pork fat and tart cranberry juice.

These ribs are meatier than regular spare ribs, making them ideal for casual and hearty holiday dinner.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter

3 lbs. country-style pork spare ribs
5 Tbls. butter
2 Tbls. whiskey or scotch
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbls. garlic powder
1 cup fresh whole cranberries
1 Tbls. fresh sage, minced

About a half an hour or so before you want to cook, measure out your butter and leave it on the counter to soften up a little bit.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Prep the meat

Grab your pork ribs.

Unwrap them and lay them out in a 13 x 9 baking pan.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Make the whiskey butter

Put your softened butter in a bowl or measuring cup.

Mash it up with a fork.

Add the whiskey.

With your fork, stir the butter and whiskey together until you have a uniform paste. This will take a few minutes, but the butter will absorb all the whiskey.

When it comes together fully, it should look about like this:

It will be looser, but not at all drippy or unmanageable.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Coat the ribs with whiskey butter

With your hands, rub each rib with the whiskey butter until it’s well coated.

Your goal is to cover each rib in butter.

Sprinkle with the garlic powder and kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Set the ribs aside for a minute or two while you deal with the cranberries.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Cut up the cranberries

Measure out your cranberries. Slice each one in half. (I swear this won’t take as long as it sounds.)

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Sprinkle, bake, and baste

Sprinkle the cranberries over the pork ribs, distributing them as evenly as you can.

Lastly, sprinkle on the minced sage.

Stick your pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour – 1 1/2 hours. Your final cooking time will depend on how big and thick your ribs are. (Start checking them after about an hour.)

Every 20 minutes or so, baste the ribs with the butter-y broth in the bottom of the pan. (Hold the pan firmly with one hand, tip it a little, spoon up the juice that puddles in the pan’s corner, and drizzle it over the meat.)

They’re done when they’re nicely browned and the meat comes away easily when pulled at with a fork. They should look about like this:

Serve and enjoy!

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse�/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. You have totally touched my meatatarian heart with these ribs, Jessica. And as someone who prefers gin or vodka for my cocktails, I have to say this is quite possibly the noblest use of whiskey I've ever seen. In some parts of the country [here in Chicago, for instance] that cut of meat is often called St. Louis-style spare ribs. Very meaty and tasty, a good call.
  2. Any suggestions on the particular whisky to use? Personally, I'd favour a Laphroaig or something from the Highlands, but I suppose a splash of JD would do...
  3. I cooked the ribs tonight. I was a bit sceptical about the cranberry-sage combination, but it tastes great! I wrapped the prepared ribs in foil and baked them for 1 3/4 hours. Don't waste all the good juices! Pour them into a pan, add a bit of cornstarch, boil it up and let it simmer until it all thickens. I poured a bit of the sauce on top of the ribs and boiled them for another 5 minutes or so, so they get a nice crust. I then served the leftover sauce with the ribs and it was deeeelicious! The only thing that was a bit disappointing was that the ribs were not tender - I think it was the cut, hence next time I will try it with babyback ribs.