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Apple Cider-Brined Pork Ribs

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Apple cider-brined pork ribs are a delicious and unique twist on traditional BBQ ribs. Not only does apple cider add a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor, but it also keeps the ribs moist during cooking.

Apple cider-brined pork ribs
derrickriches.com

Do you want the most tender pork ribs you’ve ever had? Brine them in a flavorful apple cider and cinnamon mixture. Brining plumps up the meat while adding a sweet and savory flavor. You can make these fantastic ribs at your next outdoor cookout with a little planning! Don’t own a grill or smoker? Make these ribs using our oven method

This recipe calls for St. Louis cut or baby back ribs. However, you can certainly trim your rack of spare ribs, reserve the scraps and make some delicious appetizers! 

What is Brining, and How does it Work?

Brining is a technique that involves soaking meat in a solution of water, salt, and other ingredients for 12-24 hours. This process helps to season the meat, breaks down the proteins in the muscle fiber, and adds moisture.

Why Brine Pork Ribs?

Brining pork ribs can be especially helpful in preventing them from drying out during a long cooking process. This is especially challenging when smoking or cooking outdoors. The brine solution helps to keep the ribs moist and tender, while the salt keeps the meat tender but firm, making them easier to slice and serve.

Apple Cider in gallon plastic jug

Are Apple Cider and Apple Cider Vinegar the same thing?

No, they are not the same thing. Apple cider is more akin to apple juice, while apple cider vinegar is quite tart and not at all similar to apple cider.

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of St. Louis cut pork ribs (or 2 racks of baby backs)
  • Apple cider or apple juice (including some for spritzing or wrapping)
  • Cold water
  • Salt
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Black peppercorns
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • BBQ rib rub
  • Unsalted butter (optional wrapping)
  • BBQ sauce (optional saucing)

How do you make Apple Cider-Brined Pork Ribs?

To start, you’ll need a large container like a stock pot, a plastic container with a lid, or brining bag that is big enough to hold your ribs and the brine solution. 

Tip: Remember that the rib brine will need to spend a short amount of time simmering to dissolve the salt and sugar. Give the solution enough time to cook COMPLETELY before submerging the ribs.

Apple cider brine in pot
derrickriches.com
  • First, reserve 1/2 cup of apple cider for spritzing or wrapping.
  • In a large pot, combine 1/2 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 4 cups of apple cider. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Allow the brine to cool completely before using.
  • Next, trim the ribs of any excess bits of loose meat or cartilage. 
  • Flip the ribs over and remove the membrane (silver skin) from the back. 
  • Next, submerge the ribs into the brine solution and cover tightly.
  • Once in the brine, refrigerate ribs for 12 hours or up to 18 hours for best results.

Cooking Brined Pork Ribs in a Smoker

  • Preheat your grill or smoker to 225° F. We recommend using pecan, cherry, or apple wood for this recipe.
  • Remove ribs from the container, discard brine, and gently pat dry with paper towels.
  • Apply a thin coating of mustard or oil to the ribs, then season with your favorite BBQ spice rub. 
  • Place the ribs on the grill, bone side down, close the lid, and cook for 2 hours.
Ribs on a pellet grill
derrickriches.com
  • If you do not plan to wrap the ribs, spritz with reserved 1/2 cup of apple cider or apple juice. Use as needed to prevent drying. 
  • Sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

For Fall Off the Bone Tender Ribs

Wrapping Pork Ribs
derrickriches.com
  • Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil with reserved apple cider, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Place back on the grill for 1-1 1/2 hours.
  • Next, carefully unwrap the ribs and place them on the grill bone-side down. Apply your favorite sauce, close the lid, and let the ribs cook for another 25-30 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature between 185°-190°F.
  • Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes before carving. Wrapped ribs will be quite tender, so we recommend pulling out the bones and serving the meat chopped with extra BBQ sauce!

Tip: As with any recipe, it’s important to practice food safety when brining and cooking pork ribs. Use a clean container or bag to brine the meat. Keep an instant-read thermometer nearby to ensure the ribs are cooked to the right temperature.

Oven Method

Follow the instructions for brining and seasoning listed above. Place the ribs on a jerky rack in a baking dish, cover the dish with foil, then bake in the oven at 275°F for 2 hours. Uncover and brush them with your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook for an additional 45-60 minutes or until they reach desired temperature and tenderness.

Storing Leftovers

Place leftover apple cider-brined pork ribs in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freeze for up to 6 weeks.

Do I need to Sauce Brined Pork Ribs?

Saucing BBQ ribs

No need to sauce these apple cider-brined pork ribs! The brine, rub, and low and slow cooking will provide all the flavor. However, if you are a fan of glazed ribs or cooking them in the oven, we recommend a medium coating of BBQ sauce. You can also serve the sauce on the side.

Recommended Sides

Apple cider-brined pork ribs

Apple Cider-Brined Pork Ribs

Apple cider-brined pork ribs are a delicious and unique twist on traditional BBQ ribs. Not only does apple cider add a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor, but it also keeps the ribs moist during cooking.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: apple cider brine, apple cider brined ribs, cider brine ribs
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 4
Calories: 410kcal
Author: Derrick Riches and Sabrina Baksh

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of St. Louis cut pork ribs or 2 racks of baby backs
  • 4 1/2 cups apple cider or apple juice (reserve 1/2 cup for spritzing or wrapping)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons BBQ rub
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter optional wrapping
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar optional wrapping
  • 3/4-1 cup BBQ sauce optional saucing

Instructions

  • In a large pot, combine 1/2 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 4 cups of apple cider. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Allow the brine to cool COMPLETLY before using.
  • Next, trim the ribs of any excess bits of loose meat or cartilage.
  • Flip the ribs over and remove the membrane (silver skin) from the back.
  • Next, submerge the ribs into the brine solution and cover tightly.
  • Once in the brine, refrigerate ribs for 12 hours or up to 18 hours for best results.
  • Preheat your grill to 225° F. We recommend using pecan, cherry, or apple wood for this recipe.
  • Remove ribs from the brine and gently blot them dry with paper towels.
  • Apply a thin coating of mustard or oil to the ribs, then season with your favorite BBQ rub.
  • Place the ribs on the grill, bone side down, close the lid, and cook for 2 hours.
  • If you do not plan to wrap the ribs, spritz with reserved 1/2 cup of apple cider or apple juice. Use as needed to prevent drying.
  • Sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
  • Once cooked to an internal temperature of 185°-190°F, remove the ribs from your grill or smoker, and rest them on a clean cutting board for 10 minutes before carving.
  • For fall-off-the-bone tender ribs:
  • Wrap the ribs in foil with reserved apple cider, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Place back on the grill for 1-1 1/2 hours.
  • Next, carefully unwrap the ribs and place them on the grill bone-side down. Apply your favorite sauce, close the lid, and let the ribs cook for another 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Wrapped ribs will be quite tender, so we recommend removing the bones and serving the meat chopped with extra BBQ sauce on top!
  • Oven method:
  • Follow the instructions for brining and seasoning listed above. Place the ribs on a rack in a baking dish, cover the dish with foil, then bake in the oven at 275°F for 2 hours. Uncover and brush them with your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook for an additional 45-60 minutes or until they reached recommended temperature and tenderness.

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 11051mg | Potassium: 523mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 70g | Vitamin A: 224IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg
Derrick Riches
Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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