Give Your Barbecue Sauce A Sweeter Taste With Fruit Juice

brushing barbecue sauce on ribs
brushing barbecue sauce on ribs - Gmvozd/Getty Images

The secret to a good barbecue is often the sauce. Whether you prefer the tangy sweetness of a Kansas City-style barbecue sauce, the vinegar kick of a North Carolina sauce, or the curveball of an Alabama white sauce, the one you pick can often make the meal. But while there are plenty of regional barbecue styles with their own sauces, there's no reason you can't make your own that doesn't neatly fit into any category. And if you do, you should consider fruit juice as a sweetener.

Barbecue sauce will often use honey or brown sugar for sweetness, and there's nothing wrong with those choices -- but fruit juice can open up entirely new flavor dimensions for your grilling or smoking experience. From the mellow sweetness of apple to the tart punch of lemon to the unique flavor of pineapple, you have no shortage of options when it comes to adding fruit juice to a barbecue sauce.

Read more: The 15 Best Store-Bought Barbecue Sauces, Ranked

Citrus Is A Great Option For Fruit Juice-Based Sauce

sliced citrus fruit on board
sliced citrus fruit on board - Eleganza/Getty Images

It's no surprise that citrus is a popular choice of fruit juice in barbecue sauce, as it doesn't just lend sweetness but also acid. Eastern North Carolina may have vinegar-based barbecue sauce, but citrus juice can be a great way to provide that same element without vinegar's sometimes-overpowering flavor. Lemon is an obvious addition since it plays well with so many other foods and flavors, and even some recipes that aren't fruit juice-specific will call for a little of it as an ancillary ingredient. One thing to be aware of with lemon juice, though: It won't be nearly as sweet as other fruit juices, which is why you'll find recipes that call for pairing it with brown sugar.

If you want a sweet barbecue sauce that doesn't require anything more than fruit juice, though, you don't need to leave the citrus aisle. That's because orange juice can also be an excellent choice, hitting the right balance between sweetness and acid. Just don't brush your teeth shortly after eating dinner because anyone who has ever had orange juice and toothpaste flavors going at the same time can tell you that's not an experience you'll wish to repeat.

Pineapple Juice And Apple Juice Each Have Strengths For Barbecue Sauce

pineapple juice and pineapple
pineapple juice and pineapple - Zeljkosantrac/Getty Images

If you aren't feeling citrus, you have other options, too. Pineapple may not be a citrus fruit, but it has some of the same qualities as one, namely a blend between sweetness and acid, thanks to its concentration of both malic and citric acid. The bonus of pineapple juice here is that pineapple already pairs extremely well with smoke flavor, which is why grilled pineapple is such a popular choice. Much like lemon, though, pineapple juice might need to be balanced with a sweet element like brown sugar or honey.

Finally, if you want something more mellow and sweeter than any of the above options, you can go for apple juice, which shouldn't require any additional sweetness. Apple juice has the advantage of being less divisive than certain other fruits like pineapple, and in barbecue sauce it'll have far less of an acidic kick than any of the above options. Be aware you may have to do some balancing with a vinegar ingredient -- but there's a ready-made one that will pair very well: apple cider vinegar.

These aren't the only fruit juices you can use. You can always experiment with others or combinations of them. Don't be afraid to play around with it. Just make sure to balance your flavor components, and you'll do great.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal