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Copycat Hard Rock Cafe Baby Rock Watermelon Ribs

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining on Hard Rock Cafe Baby Rock Watermelon Ribs your tastebuds have experienced what can only be explained as “a taste of heaven”. Unfortunately, Hard Rock Cafe isn’t right down the road for us, in fact, the nearest location is about 8 hours away. Here’s how we recreate that amazing flavor at home…

Copycat Hardrock Cafe Watermelon Ribs recipe by

Copycat Hard Rock Cafe Baby Rock Watermelon Ribs

You’ll Need:
Leftover Watermelon Rind from 1/2 of a small Watermelon
1 cup Dark Corn Syrup
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup distilled White Vinegar
3/4 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
4 pounds of baby back ribs

If you’ve never prepared watermelon rind before, simply remove the green skin part and the pink fleshy part of the watermelon. You’ll want the rind itself, which is the white fleshy part.
Once you’ve cut away the watermelon fruit itself and removed the skin, place the rind pieces in a blender or food processor and blitz to create a soft thick chunky puree.
Drain off any excess liquid.

In a heavy saucepan, combine a cup of the strained pulp/puree, corn syrup, water, ketchup, vinegar, red pepper flakes, liquid smoke and black pepper over medium-high heat, stirring well to combine the ingredients.

As soon as it comes to a boil, immediately reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50-60 minutes until the sauce has greatly reduced and reached the desired thickness.

Now, to make these nearly famous ribs, you’ll want to marinate 3-4 pounds of baby back ribs overnight in the Watermelon BBQ Sauce. (Reserve about 1/4 of the sauce for basting during cooking).

Cooking the Ribs

Preheat the oven to 275F

Place the ribs on a large piece of aluminum foil, Brush the ribs very generously with the sauce on both sides. Wrap the ribs very, very tightly and place seam up on a baking sheet. Bake for 2hr- 2 1/2 hrs – or until the meat has pulled away from the end of the bone by about half an inch.

As the ribs are nearly ready, fire up the grill!

Unwrap the ribs from the tinfoil and toss them onto the grill. To give them some color and texture, baste them generously with sauce. They’ll only need about 4 minutes or so on each side, serve with extra sauce if desired.


Chef’s Notes:

Liquid hickory smoke: This is a bottle of seasoning that is found in the aisle with the seasoning and spices, but on occasion is also found in the aisle with BBQ sauces and salad dressings.

The sauce can be made up ahead of time and poured into vacuum seal bags or zip-style bags. It will last about five days in the fridge without issue.

Serve with leftover sauce on the side.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / siraphol

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1 thought on “Copycat Hard Rock Cafe Baby Rock Watermelon Ribs”

  1. I used to waitress at Hard Rock on Maui. The watermelon BBQ sauce was always my favorite on ribs, chicken, and onion rings. This recipe is the same all over the internet, but first time I made it I detected that something was off, so I started to experiment. Here are my changes… Why discard watermelon juice and replace with plane water!?! No!!! Use watermelon juice instead!! More flavor! In fact, if I use half of a good size watermelon per batch I can get at least 3 cups of watermelon puree (both pulp and juice) and I use it all! I also add 1 good size sweet onion and puree that too (juice and pulp), throw watermelon and onion into medium pot and start to boil it. Add all the rest of ingredients (I usually over pour/measure everything a little bit except for dark corn syrup). The only water I add is when I’m trying to get all the dark corn syrup out of the container (add little bit water then shake violently, repeat till most of the syrup is in your pot). Cook everything for about 10 mins, then measure out about 1 – 1 1/2 cup to marinate the meat in. This allows you to have more BBQ sauce for topping. Continue to simmer the rest of the sauce until it is the thickness/consistency you desire. Every time we buy a watermelon this is a part of the plan!


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