Sunday, March 11, 2012

Barbecue Sauce

I haven't counted the exact proportion, but a whole lot of my recipes on this blog involve barbecue sauce.  I love it.  It's an addiction.  I won't even pretend that I can quit any time I want to, because I can't.  I will forever be hooked on barbecue, and I'm okay with that.

However, I've always eaten barbecue sauce right off the grocery store shelf.  I've tried lots of kinds, but tend to come right back to the same couple of varieties - mostly Masterpiece and Bullseye.  For as much as I love barbecue sauce, you would think I might be more adventurous with trying new brands.  Rather than look for a new favorite brand, though, I think the time has come to just create my own uber-sauce.

I like my barbecue sauce sweet and smoky, with a touch of spice and not too much acid.  There are as many philosophies on what constitutes the ideal sauce out there as there are barbecue-eaters, but that's how I like mine, so that's what this sauce aspires to be.

If you want to make barbecue sauce from scratch, it just seems misguided to me to start from ketchup - so I won't do it!  This recipe won't completely free you from bottles off a supermarket shelf, but why it just seems like cheating to take a bottle of ketchup, add spices, and call it "my own" sauce.

For this sauce, you'll need canned tomato sauce, canned tomato paste, molasses, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, a bit of olive oil or butter, and some salt and pepper.  When summer comes and fresh tomatoes are at their peak, I'll likely revisit this recipe and make it from fresh tomatoes rather than canned, but this one should be easy to make year-round with ingredients that are more or less omnipresent, at least in my kitchen.

First, finely mince the onion and garlic.

In a bit of olive oil or melted butter, sweat the minced onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and tender, but not browned.

This next step is complicated.  Are you ready?

Add everything else.  Everything.  Mix it up well.

Simmer the sauce on low heat for about 20 minutes until reduced slightly, darkened in color, and thickened.

That's it.  Taste the sauce after it's reduced and adjust your ingredients to your own particular taste.

The sauce should keep for up to a month or so in the refrigerator, or much longer if frozen or canned.

Brush the sauce onto meats as they finish cooking, make some barbecue chicken pizza, or just eat by the spoonful.  Okay, maybe not the last one.  Unless you really, really want to.

Recipe: Barbecue Sauce
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 25 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 1 Quart

  • 1 large Sweet Onion
  • 4-5 cloves Garlic
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) Tomato Sauce
  • 6 oz. Tomato Paste
  • 1/3 cup Molasses
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Ground Mustard
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Finely mince onion and garlic.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil or butter in a pan over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and sweat 4-5 minutes until onions are translucent and tender, but not browned.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes until sauce is reduced.
  4. Taste to check seasonings and adjust as needed.
  5. Brush over meat in last 5-10 minutes of cooking.


  1. This looks extra delicious.

  2. Your recipe sounds great. Will have to try this time the next time we grill out.