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Make the Ultimate Barbecue Sauce

Make the Ultimate Barbecue Sauce

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Picture this: The table is set with a red-checkered tablecloth, the corn has just been set down on a platter all perfectly buttered, and the ribs are almost done cooking on the grill. You’re ready to dive in, but as soon as those beautifully charred, juicy ribs hit the table you suddenly realize, there’s no sauce. Most likely, this nightmare of a scenario will never take place, but not only does it send a shiver down your spine, it also highlights the importance of something that’s usually in attendance at your summer cookouts: the barbecue sauce.

Click here to see how to Make the Ultimate Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce — it’s such a large part of so many things we love. What would barbecue chicken be without its sauce? How would your pulled pork be so juicy without a little barbecue mojo to go with it? And even for those chicken nugget lovers who prefer the tang of sauce over ketchup — what would they do without it?

As you can see, barbecue sauce is a pretty big deal, so it’s important that it tastes good, too. Sure, buying a bottle in the store is an easy solution, but you’ll often find it’s lacking a key seasoning that you love in your barbecue sauce; or its consistency is just not up to par with that award-winning one you tasted down in Texas a few months back. Sometimes there’s a certain specialness you’re looking for in your sauce, and you just want to know how to make it yourself.

That’s where we come in, because we’re going to show you how to make the ultimate barbecue sauce. This isn’t just a "put this amount of ketchup and this amount of brown sugar together in a pot" lecture, either, because we’re giving you concrete tools that you can keep in your belt for whatever barbecue sauce you’re trying to create. To help you create your favorite barbecue sauce recipe, we’ve dissected the sauce in its entirety and have determined the best practices for each step of the process.

We didn’t do this alone, either. To help us define how to make the ultimate version of the sauce, we consulted not one but three different barbecue experts who are known for their sauce-making capabilities. There is our trusted barbecue friend Clint Cantwell, editor-in-chief of, who we’ve consulted on previous barbecue expeditions. Cantwell doesn’t think it’s necessary to make the sauce entirely from scratch (and you’ll see he’s not alone), but he still finds a way to put his own special touch on it. And then there’s award-winning, nationally ranked Andrew Evans, dubbed "The Pit Master" by Food & Wine Magazine, who wouldn’t share his winning recipe but was willing to divulge some nitty gritty details about what went into concocting it. To round out our trio, we also have tips from the talented folks at The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint, one of Mississippi’s proudest barbecue institutions, which is known for their finger-licking-good sauces and marinades.

And what would our tips be without seeing them executed in actual recipes? For that reason, we’re also sharing five trusted and delicious barbecue recipes from industry experts, including John Stage from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and Charlottesville, Va.’s Harrison Keevil of Brookville Restaurant.

The grilling has already begun this summer, so don’t forget the barbecue sauce. Master your own ultimate recipe with these tips from the pros.

Anne Dolce is the Cook editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce

We Tasted 7 Barbecue Sauces & This Is the Best

If thinking of barbecue sauce conjures up images of baby back ribs and smoked brisket, chicken doused in the stuff, or heavily marinated sausages, you're not wrong. But there's so much more this condiment can do. It's an excellent dipping option for french fries, a savory addition to perfectly cooked burgers, something different to drizzle over nachos, and an equally as tasty substitute for tomato sauce on pizza. Not to be cliche, but the possibilities for barbecue recipes really are endless you just have to find a barbecue sauce that meets your tastebuds' preferences.

With spring in full swing and summer, aka grilling season, right around the corner, finding the best barbecue sauce is imperative for your outdoor eating spread. Fortunately, there are a ton of bottles to choose from. Unfortunately, like ketchup, even though most BBQ sauces look the same, store-bought sauces are hardly created equally. Ergo, we taste-tested seven barbecue sauces straight out of their bottles to determine, once and for all, which had the best flavor.

Here's how the BBQ sauces ranked, listed from worst to best based on taste. And for more, don't miss these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.

Ingredients Needed:

Bourbon &ndash We use Jim Beam, since it&rsquos reasonably priced. No need to get fancy here.

Apple Juice

Dark Brown Sugar

Apple Cider Vinegar &ndash This helps balance the ingredients, but doesn&rsquot make the sauce tangy.

Worcestershire Sauce

Liquid Smoke &ndash We love the touch of smoke in the sauce.

Whole Grain Mustard

Spices &ndash Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Flavorful Recipes Using BBQ Sauce

In life, there are two kinds of people.  Ketchup people and mustard people.  I am A mustard people.  I’ve never been a fan of ketchup, but I actually love BBQ sauce. Okay, I guess that means there are three kinds of people.  

The rich, smoky flavor of BBQ sauce is very satisfying and depending on the sweetness or spice can offer a range of flavors that ketchup can’t seem to match. I never really used BBQ sauce on anything but meat or chicken until recently, and I can kick myself for not trying it sooner.

Now that BBQ season is starting up and there is more sauce laying around, it&aposs time to try some other recipes that shine with a little sauce.  Start by making your own BBQ sauce or finding your favorite store bought variety, then keep reading for new ways to use that bottle. 

One year my sister-in-law made a now famous (in our family and circle) BBQ Seitan Pizza that my husband is still talking about.  As a vegetarian who plays host to carnivores, she was always interested in BBQ chicken pizza recipes she would read about or see on TV commercials and figured seitan, a textured wheat gluten that can mimic the texture of meat, could be a good sub for the chicken and she was absolutely right.

No tomato sauce needed for this recipe. Just your favorite BBQ sauce, Seitan and smoky Gouda cheese. I like to add some crunchy red onions and sometimes even diced jalapenos for some kick and color.

While I was realizing all the possibilities of BBQ sauce I decided to try it in a hearty stew. I like to make stews with a lot of beans and vegetables and only a little bit of meat. It cuts down on the fat and calories and you really don’t miss the extra meat.  The flavor from a good BBQ sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the dish and had the right tang to go with the cowboy twang. My Cowboy BBQ Bean Stew is a perfect easy weeknight dinner anytime.

I bet you never thought to add BBQ sauce to a creamy pasta dish.  If you&aposre looking for a creamy sauce without the cream, this cauliflower cream sauce is perfect for you! The BBQ sauce adds some extra tang.  You can pour this sauce over pasta, vegetables or pretty much anything you can think of!

The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce for This Year's July 4th Barbecue

I first came across the recipes in the July 1998 issue of Bon Appétit, when it was fresh off the stand. I used them for the first ribs I ever smoked and as the foundation for most others that followed.

Dozens of barbecues later, the page is now stained with grease, splattered with sauce, marked by dirty fingerprints, and crusted with layers of chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. But it’s coated with more than pork fat and spices. It’s covered with memories.

I’ve learned these recipes by heart and have copied them for safekeeping. But cooking for the event — and a July 4th barbecue is always an event — wouldn’t be the same without looking at that dirty page.

Each stain and splatter is worth a memory. Many more will be added throughout this barbecue season. Photo: Samantha Bolton

Each splotch and smear is a reminder of the glories of good barbecue and its power to leave people happy and satisfied. They are a reminder of how a technique, style, or dish can lead to a world of exploration, discovery, and learning. They are a reminder of friendships, family, holidays, and milestones, as well as the need to celebrate more of each. Reading the recipe from a clean page or screen just isn’t the same.

Others feel the same way. Nashville-based food writers Jennifer Justus, Erin Murray, and Cindy Wall recently started Dirty Pages, a site for collecting and sharing family recipes, and for celebrating the people and cultures that create them.

A Dirty Pages interactive exhibit (displayed this spring at the Nashville Farmers’ Market) will soon visit Casa Azafrán, a community center in Nashville, before moving in November to a permanent home at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans. The project’s founders are planning more Dirty Pages pop-up exhibits based on different themes next year. Kim Severson of the New York Times recently wrote about the project in this recollection of her mother’s cookbooks.

Becky Murray posted this recipe she received from her sister-in-law on the shared Dirty Pages site. “I used this cookbook so much that it fell apart,” she wrote. Photo: Becky Murray

My issue of Bon Appétit won’t last forever, but I hope the rib and rub recipes will. I’ve searched for them online but have only found an interpretation. The originals deserve perpetuity. Print these up and start painting the page with your own memories. Down the line, though, make sure to pass them along.

Miles James’ Mustard Bourbon Sauce and Spice Rub

These recipes were designed to cover 3 whole racks of baby back ribs (about six pounds). If you’re cooking spare ribs or like a heavy coating of rub, you might want to double the ingredients. You can store the extra in a sealed jar for later use (both the rub and sauce are also good on grilled salmon and any cut of pork).

The recipe refers to the sauce as “straightforward,” but I’ve never been served anything that even closely resembles it. It’s sweet, thick, chunky and packed with a variety of flavors. I prefer a little extra heat to offset the sweetness. If that’s your thing, ladle some sauce into small pot and add some cayenne and/or finely diced fresh jalapeños.

4 to 6 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 bunches green onions, chopped
2 cups white onions, chopped
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
1 cup water
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup apple juice
1 large dried ancho chili, stemmed, seeded, and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ cups bourbon

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté green onions, white onions, and garlic until tender. Mix in all remaining ingredients, adding bourbon last. Simmer sauce until thick and reduced to 7 cups, stirring occasionally, about one hour.

Spice Rub
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Coat ribs and let sit refrigerated overnight.

Whiskey BBQ Sauce: The World&aposs Most Popular BBQ Sauce Recipe

I originally found this recipe on All Recipes and modified it to my likings using many of the tips others have suggested. This is a classic and the most popular 5-star sauce with Whiskey you can find online. This sauce is so popular that it may actually be the single most popular homemade recipe sauce in the world. The popularity makes sense. People love it! What&aposs different about this sauce is that it&aposs a very balanced sauce. It&aposs not as sweet as most of the others in the list or as spicy, but it&aposs an exceptional all-around sauce.


  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic pressed
  • 3/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon Tobasco sauce, or to taste


  1. In a large size saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, and whiskey. Sauté them for about 7 to 10 minutes. Make sure that they are cooked, but not burned.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, reduce the heat and let it simmer while stirring occasionally. After about 20 minutes the sauce should thicken and be ready to serve.
  • For people that like a smooth sauce, put the onion through a food processor, high powered blender (Vitamix) or cut the onion in thick pieces to strain out after cooking.
  • Make sure to let it simmer or the whiskey flavor will be really strong.
  • Chicken can marinate in this sauce for 24 hours
  • Use pepper sauce as a Tobasco substitute
  • Cook the sauce in a crockpot and have it ready when you return

The Best Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce there is!

The Best Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce there is!

The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce

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  • 500 g passata, plus 250 g warm water
  • 70 g onions, quartered
  • 100 g Demerara sugar
  • 200 g malt vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 Tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ whole nutmeg
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 dried bay leaves

Make the Ultimate Barbecue Sauce - Recipes

by: Jim Auchmutey & Susan Puckett

Every barbecue lover knows that sauce is more than a condiment. That splash of flavor represents tradition, family, pride in place, the eternal quest for the perfect balance between ting and tang.

This cookbook, the first dedicated exclusively to barbecue sauce, includes 100 recipes showing the variety of ways people everywhere express themselves through their saucepans. It's all here: tomato sauces, mustard sauces, vinegar marinades, bourbon mops, fruit bases, white sauce, black dip, dry rubs -- plus a mail-order guide to some of America's most unusual sauces.

The recipes come from cook-ott champions, chefs, celebrities, famous barbecue houses and other people who simply have become obsessed with sauce. Like the fellow who couldn't pay his restaurant bill and left a sauce recipe instead. Or the man who says his sauce was revealed to him by God in a dream.

Full of recipes and spiced with lore, The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce Cookbook is sure to make any barbecue fan's juices flow.

How to Make Homemade Barbecue Sauce

There&rsquos a barbecue sauce for every occasion, whether it&rsquos sweet, smoky, or extra spicy. This flavorful condiment can be used in so many ways&mdashespecially when it&rsquos slathered on barbecue ribs, chicken, and even drizzled over pizza. We love the convenience of a jarred sauce (just check out Ree&rsquos Peach Whiskey BBQ sauce), but if you&rsquore looking to find out how to make barbecue sauce from scratch, you&rsquove come to the right place. This easy, homemade BBQ sauce is quick to prepare and only requires a few pantry ingredients that you probably already have on hand. It has all the classic flavors we love&mdasha little bit of tang and a little bit of sweetness&mdashand it&rsquos perfect for all your summertime grilling recipes. Serve it as a dip, spread it on a sandwich, or use it on all your grilled meats.

How do you make BBQ sauce from scratch?

It couldn&rsquot be easier to make your own homemade BBQ sauce&mdashall you need to do is throw the ingredients together into a pot and let it simmer. Cook it over low heat to let the mixture thicken slightly for an irresistibly sauce-y consistency. Then, it&rsquos ready to serve!

What is barbecue sauce made from?

This is a ketchup-based barbecue sauce that uses a handful of ingredients you likely already have at home: brown sugar and ketchup for sweetness, plus red wine vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, and hot sauce for tanginess and heat. Looking for a spicy variation? Try adding a dash of cayenne pepper.

What is the best BBQ sauce?

Here&rsquos where things get personal. There are regional styles of barbecue sauce from all over the country (like Alabama white sauce or Carolina mustard sauce) and depending on where you live may influence your preferences. Some are super smoky, while others will be sweet. But if you ask us, they&rsquore all delicious in their own right. Looking for something classic and balanced? This recipe for the best homemade BBQ sauce is for you.

How do you store homemade BBQ sauce?

You&rsquoll want to save every last drop of this finger-licking sauce. Keep it in an airtight container for up to 1 week. You can even make this sauce ahead of your backyard bash for easy meal prep. Just be sure to let it cool before storing.