Your Ribs Will Benefit From A Splash Of Orange Juice

There's nothing like biting into a flavorful BBQ pork rib that's so tender it falls off the bone. You can almost taste the perfect rib now: It has a bit of crisp and char on the outside, yet it remains juicy and moist on the inside, boasting a slightly sweet, slightly tangy flavor that keeps you coming back for more.

If you're aiming for that perfect rack of ribs, there's one ingredient that can elevate your dish from good to great: orange juice. The next time you bake, broil, or grill ribs, consider incorporating a splash or two of that bottle of OJ hanging out in the back of your fridge. You'll definitely taste the difference.

That's because orange juice doesn't just add moisture to keep the meat succulent; it also imparts an underlying zing of flavor — slightly sweet, slightly tangy — that elevates each bite. If you're ready to enhance your ribs with some orange juice, there are several methods you can try that work for roasting, smoking, and grilling methods.

Incorporating orange juice into your ribs

It doesn't matter which cooking method you choose; whether you opt for the grill or the oven, the addition of orange juice will benefit your meaty rack of ribs. The first way to incorporate orange juice is through a simple marinade. Just mix orange juice with your favorite sauce — such as this recipe for the best basic marinade — and let the meat marinate in the fridge. Afterward, cook the ribs however you prefer for a moist, flavorful result.

If you're aiming for low-and-slow oven-baked ribs, you can pour the OJ-infused sauce over your meat before letting it roast. If you're grilling, use the same mixture — and consider adding some orange zest to intensify the citrus flavor — as a basting sauce to create a more glazed finish. Lastly, if you're smoking the ribs in a smoker — such as in pitmaster Chris Lilly's smoked lamb ribs recipe — you can incorporate some orange juice about halfway through the smoking process. Generously pour the orange juice and barbecue sauce mixture over your ribs after they're dark brown and tender, and then return them to indirect heat to allow the sauce to caramelize.

More ways to amp up your ribs

One of the best things about ribs is the myriad ways to prepare them, each offering a unique avenue for adding flavor. Aside from options like orange juice, which excels at tenderizing and adding tang, there are other methods you can employ to elevate your home-cooked rack of ribs.

Instead of marinating the meat in advance, you could opt for a smoky dry rib rub. This can consist of any blend of spices and seasonings you prefer, from brown sugar, smoked paprika, and garlic powder to cumin, chipotle powder, or even cinnamon. A pro tip if you go this route: Coat your ribs in mustard before applying the dry rub to further tenderize the meat.

Another approach for maximizing both juiciness and flavor is to use a brine rather than a marinade or dry rub. This method is advantageous because it can be executed relatively quickly. A simple, salty brine can infuse flavor and result in tender and moist meat.