This Sweet Orange Basil BBQ Sauce Rib Recipe isn’t your typical backyard barbecue. It has a sweet, spicy kick that pairs beautifully with grilled meats.
After the first week or two of summer, cookouts all feel the same. Someone brings hot dogs, and someone smashes burgers on the grill until they’re dried out. Someone else brings a half-wilted salad or slices of mealy watermelon. Mix things up a bit! Slather this easy, homemade barbecue sauce on ribs, chicken, or even grilled salmon.
Living in the Kansas City area as I do, it felt for years like I was the only one who didn’t know how to grill like a pit boss. The truth is, the grill intimidated me. Figuring out when it was ready, whether the flames were medium or medium-high, and when to use direct or indirect grilling — it was all overwhelming.
The Secret to Tender Ribs
My husband handled the grill duties for years while I made all sides. Now, though? I’ve empowered myself, and not a weekend goes by when you won’t find me manning — er, womaning — the grill.
The secret to making tender ribs isn’t throwing them on a low and slow grill — then they lose a lot of their juiciness to the flames. Instead, start them in the oven, wrapped tightly in foil to lock in moisture, and get them off to a good start. After slowly baking for a couple of hours, baste them with the Sweet Orange Basil BBQ Sauce and transfer them to the grill.
Is no grill handy to make ribs? That’s fine — you can make them entirely in the oven and still get that delicious, caramelized flavor by bumping up the heat.
Sweet Orange Basil BBQ Sauce Ribs
For the Ribs
- 3 lbs. back ribs
For the Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/4 cup yellow onion roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves chopped (about 8)
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp stone ground mustard
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 cup cold butter cubed
Par-Bake the Ribs
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Position a rack in the center.
- If needed, remove the membrane from the ribs by lifting a corner with the tip of a knife and slowly pulling it free. Season the ribs on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the ribs meaty side up on a baking sheet lined with foil. (Cut the slabs in half if necessary to fit.) Cover tightly with a double-thickness of additional foil. Bake at 300°F for 2 hours.
Make the Sauce
- While the ribs bake, make the sauce by combining the remaining ingredients (except for butter) in a blender or food processor. Transfer this to a medium sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cubed butter until fully incorporated. Let cool.
- When the ribs have baked for 2 hours, open the foil and baste both sides with the sauce.
- Grill over medium direct heat for 15-20 minutes basting repeatedly until done. Remove from grill. Let rest 5 minutes then brush with additional sauce and serve.
- Remove the ribs from the oven and move the rack 3-4 inches from the top. Baste ribs and broil 3-4 minutes, until the sauce begins to caramelize. Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes then brush with additional sauce and serve.