How to Make BBQ Sauce

How to Make BBQ Sauce

There’s no shortage of people and places in the U.S claiming to have the best BBQ sauce in the world. For the general populous, that’s a pretty good problem to have. Who doesn’t like slow-roasted, smoky meat slathered in a fantastic sauce?

There are plenty of variations on what BBQ sauce is and should be, from Texas to the Carolinas. But Kansas City style is what most people think of when they want to know how to make BBQ sauce. It’s a classic thick, sweet, tomato-based sauce laced with molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, and dry spices.

Below are three Kansas City-style BBQ sauce variants. Each recipe yields one quart. Sub in one of these homemade BBQ sauces for your little smokies or meatballs at the next potluck and you’ll be sure to turn some heads.

how to make barbecue sauce

How to Make Classic BBQ Sauce
This ubiquitous, tomato-based version goes great with all things red meat and more. From big ol’ tomahawk ribs to broccoli, it’ll do the trick. Plus, think of it as the go-to for those staple dishes like sloppy Joes, baked beans, meatloaf, burgers, and BBQ pizza. If you like it with a bit more punch and smokiness, add extra black pepper and liquid smoke.

2 cups ketchup
½ cup molasses
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup apple juice
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire
2 tbsp. liquid smoke
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. smoked paprika

Fortunately, this classic BBQ sauce comes together fairly quickly, and most ingredients are pantry staples. To prepare, combine all of the ingredients listed in a medium-sized pot. Mix everything thoroughly and simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency. When the sauce finishes cooking, either transfer it hot to the jars and begin the canning process or let it cool and refrigerate for later use.

bbq sauce recipe

How to Make Sweet BBQ Sauce
This BBQ sauce has pork product written all over it. I’m talking pork ribs, pork butt, roasts, pulled pork, and game with similar qualities including bear, mountain lion, rabbit, and wild birds. It will also pair well with most fish, especially salmon, trout, and flaky white fish like walleye.

One of my favorite fish fry styles is to marinate fillets in yellow mustard, crust the fish in crackers, and pan-fry them in bacon grease. It’s not for the faint of heart. This sauce’s tanginess makes it a an even-better substitute for the plain yellow mustard I usually use.

This homemade BBQ sauce can be an excellent base for other uses too. Think jazzing up ranch, using it as a marinade, or making a nice dressing for your next backyard BBQ.

1 ½ cups ketchup
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup honey
¼ cup molasses
½ cup pineapple juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup yellow mustard
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt

The cooking method for this sweet and tangy BBQ sauce is virtually the same as the classic. The difference here is that we’ve added more liquids. To offset that, you’ll want to reduce the sauce for a bit longer. Combine all the ingredients, bring the sauce to a simmer on medium-low heat, and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until it’s reached the desired consistency. The sauce will keep thickening while cooling.

homemade bbq sauce

How to Make Spicy BBQ Sauce
What’s great about this spicy BBQ sauce is that it’s a hybrid of sorts. It moves away from the classic style and rides the line of hot sauce, bringing you the best of both worlds: bright, acidic, and spicy.

This BBQ sauce is an excellent addition to almost anything but really shines with poultry and seafood. I love using this for dishes like burritos, grilled shrimp, taco meat, and chili.

Have a plan to fire up the smoker? Try smoking some tomatoes to make your own purée and sub in equal parts for the tomato sauce. It’ll take this one to a whole new level.

15 oz. can of tomato sauce, or 2 large tomatoes, smoked
7 oz. can of chipotle peppers in sauce
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp. fresh garlic, chopped
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup molasses
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. Worcestershire
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground mustard
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. canola oil

Start by cooking the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until they begin to brown—about 5 minutes. Add the dry spices and cook for one minute. Now mix in the tomato paste and stir until combined.

Add the remaining liquids and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook the sauce on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Let the sauce cool to around room temperature and purée in a blender or food processor. If you want a smoother sauce, simply pass it through a fine strainer. If you find that the sauce is too thick, add a little pineapple juice to thin it out.

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