What’s The Best Apple Juice Substitute for Ribs? Answered!

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If you’re a barbecue fanatic, you’ll know just how important apple juice can be when it comes to preparing and cooking your ribs. 

Depending on your preferred methods, you might use it as part of a mouthwatering marinade, inside the foil to add moisture, or for spritzing the ribs during the smoking process. 

So what should you do if you can’t get hold of any apple juice, or you’d just rather not make an extra trip to the shops? 

I’ve got you covered, and I’m going to give you the best options for apple juice alternatives for ribs! 

The best apple juice substitute for ribs

Don’t have any apple juice, but want to make delicious ribs? No problem! The best apple juice substitutes for ribs include pineapple juice, cranberry juice, barbecue sauce, beer, white wine, and coke. 

Read on to find out more about each of your options, and how to make them work for you. 

1. Pineapple juice 

Pineapple juice is popular in barbecue marinades. It’s sharp and it’s tangy, and it tastes so good with pork ribs. 

It’s an excellent apple juice substitute for ribs, though you need to keep in mind that it contains an enzyme that breaks down the fibres in meat. This is good news in terms of tenderising, but if you marinade your meat for too long in pineapple juice, you might find that it becomes a little mushy. 

For this reason, keep the marinading period to a maximum of three hours, wherever possible. 

Get a little more inspiration from this pineapple sticky ribs recipe

If you go for a pineapple based marinade, be sure to cut up some pineapple rings and cook them on the barbecue. They look so vibrant and delicious, and you can either serve them with your main course, or keep them for dessert with vanilla ice cream and desiccated coconut. 

2. Cranberry juice 

Cranberry juice is another good alternative for apple juice for ribs. 

Look for a variety without too much sugar or artificial sweetener, so you get a pleasant sharp, tart taste that isn’t overwhelmed by sweetness. 

Again, don’t marinade for too long. Just a few hours is sufficient and will result in the tastiest, meltiest meat. 

3. Bourbon whisky 

If you love ribs, then you’ll no doubt be very familiar with bourbon whisky marinades!

Jack Daniel’s is the most popular option, and it can be used to create satisfying sweet and sticky meat

This Jack Daniel’s rib glaze recipe can be made a couple of days in advance, making it ideal for when you want to get ahead with your prep and have a stress free gathering with family and friends. 

4. Barbecue sauce

Sometimes, it’s fun to make your marinades from scratch.

There’s no shame in using a couple of shortcuts now and again though, and if you’ve got some barbecue sauce already in the fridge, it’s a great substitute for apple juice for ribs

If your bottled barbecue sauce is particularly thick, you might want to loosen it up a little with some water to get it to the right consistency. 

5. Beer

Beer is perfect for marinading ribs, and it can also be used for spritzing and retaining moisture whilst they’re cooking. 

It should be noted here that beer is nowhere as sweet as apple juice, so you’re not going to get the same kind of flavour profile. You might want to add a little bit of brown sugar if you’d like some sweetness to shine through and avoid any bitterness. 

Of course, a bottle of beer is the perfect barbecue drink once your ribs are ready to go! 

6. White wine 

Any bog standard white wine that you might have in your kitchen can be used instead of apple juice for ribs. 

A dry variety is the best choice, as you’ll retain some of the sharp flavour that’s fairly similar to apple. 

7. Apple cider vinegar 

If you’re a keen home cook, it’s quite likely that you’ll have some apple cider vinegar in your pantry. The good news is that you can use it when you’re cooking and preparing your ribs in place of apple juice. 

Do remember though that vinegar is essentially an acid, and it will break down the meat. For this reason, you’ll need to marinade for no longer than around 30 minutes

This quick pork apple cider marinade recipe is tangy, spicy, garlicky, and downright delicious. 

8. Coke 

The fizziness of a can of coke, along with the sugar content, works to tenderise the meat and give you beautiful texture as well as a bold and unique flavour

It also doesn’t have a high acid content like apple cider vinegar does, so you can leave to marinade for longer. 

Sugar can burn fairly easily, so keep that in mind when you’re cooking. You might want to go for a low and slow approach, and make sure that you keep an eye on your ribs so you don’t end up with bitter burnt bits. 

Check out this Coca-Cola spare ribs recipe for the lowdown on how to get everything just right. 

Other cans of soda can work too. If you’ve got Sprite or Dr. Pepper then why not get a little experimental? 

Apple juice substitutes to avoid

Stock, water, and leftover cooking juices aren’t the best choices of substitute for apple juice in marinades. This is because they don’t have the tenderising qualities of the other ingredients that I’ve covered here, so they won’t offer anything in terms of keeping your ribs moist and juicy. 

What to use instead of apple juice for ribs

The best substitutes for apple juice for ribs include: 

  • Pineapple or cranberry juice 
  • Bourbon whisky, such as Jack Daniel’s 
  • Beer 
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Coke and other fizzy sodas 

Of course though, apple juice or indeed any of these alternatives aren’t absolutely essential! Experimenting with different marinades is fun, but a simple seasoning rub works just as well. 

Did you find this post useful?

If so, you can pin the image below to your Pinterest boards so you can come back to it next time you’re having a barbecue! 

apple juice substitute for ribs