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Margarita-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

Tequila and fresh citrus are a great combo in margaritas and also with pork ribs. The tequila’s bite and the acidic orange and lime juices cut through the rich, fatty meat. In this recipe, the marinade is transformed into both a glaze and a dipping sauce for the ribs.


For the marinade

  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)
  • 1/4 cup blanco (silver) tequila
  • 3 Tbs. dark agave syrup or honey
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. Cointreau (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh garlic (about 3 large cloves)
  • 1 Tbs. pure New Mexico or ancho chile powder
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 racks pork baby back ribs (about 1-1/2 lb. each), membrane removed

For the glaze and sauce

  • 1/2 cup blanco (silver) tequila
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice; more to taste
  • 2 Tbs. dark agave syrup or honey; more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 620
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 210
  • Fat (g): 24
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13
  • Cholesterol (mg): 100
  • Sodium (mg): 1620
  • Carbohydrates (g): 35
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 41


Marinate the ribs

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the orange and lime juices, tequila, agave, oil, Cointreau (if using), soy sauce, garlic, chile powder, lime zest, cumin, 1 Tbs. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Cut each slab of ribs in half and put in a large resealable freezer bag; pour the marinade over the ribs. Seal the bag and shake to coat the pork with the marinade. Lay the bag in a pan in case the bag leaks; refrigerate overnight, turning the bag from time to time to redistribute the marinade.

Grill the ribs

  • Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for indirect cooking over low to medium-low heat (250°F to 300°F).
  • Remove the ribs from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and set aside.
  • Arrange the ribs bone side down over indirect heat. (You may need to use a rib rack to accommodate all of the ribs.) Cover the grill and maintain a grill temperature between 250°F and 300°F degrees.

  • The ribs are ready when the meat is tender and begins to pull away from the ends of the bones. This will take 1 to 2 hours.

Make the glaze

  • While the ribs are grilling, add the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and agave syrup to the reserved marinade. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer until just beginning to turn syrupy, 15 to 25 minutes.

Finish the ribs

  • Increase the grill heat to medium high and generously brush the meat side of each slab of ribs with the glaze. Grill glaze side down over direct heat until shiny and beginning to darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch for flare-ups. Brush the bone side with some sauce, flip, and grill 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

  • Taste the remaining glaze and add more lime, agave, or salt as needed. Stir in the cilantro. Divide among 4 small bowls. Slice the ribs and serve with the sauce on the side for dipping.

Serve the ribs with Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho with Lime Crema or Spicy Grilled Corn Salad with Black Beans & Queso Fresco. A Fresh Cherry Margarita is the perfect cocktail to pair with this tangy dish.


Rate or Review

Reviews (5 reviews)

  • LArcher | 03/26/2017

    The best ribs I have ever made! I decided to cook them in the oven after reading the reviews. I also cut the ribs into individual ribs. I cooked the ribs for about 1 1/2 in the oven, half the time covered and the other half uncovered. Then put the glaze on the ribs and returned them to the oven for about 12 minutes, flipping and glazing the other side of each rib after 6 minutes. Served the ribs with salt and vinegar smashed potatoes and a salad. So finger licking good!

  • lpicc | 11/18/2011

    This recipe is awesome! I've made it several times so this has become my favorite rib recipe. Quite different than the typical barbeque sauce ribs. Based on another review, I baked the ribs for 2 hours in the oven, then grilled them, probably for another 30-45 minutes or so. The meat practically falls off the bone and the flavor is incredible.

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