The best barbecue sauce doesn’t always come out of a bottle. And if you’re limiting yourself to the prepackaged stuff (no shade, there are some really good barbecue sauces at the supermarket), you’re about to experience a brand new world of flavor (and compliments!) with a homemade barbecue sauce recipe.
Luckily, making most types of barbecue sauce is quite simple, and your house-style condiment can be used on beef, chicken, pork, seafood, and beyond. Better yet, you can jar it and bring it as a host gift to barbecues, or just make it your signature sauce for grill nights at home. Here’s how to make barbecue sauce the quick and easy way.
Basic Barbecue Sauce Recipe
To make basic barbecue sauce, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Put a small saucepan over medium heat. Add all ingredients, and stir on low.
- Heat for five minutes, and then use to marinate or baste your proteins as they grill.
- Transfer any leftovers to an air-tight jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin
How to Tweak Barbecue Sauce
The beauty of homemade barbecue sauce is that it can be tweaked in infinite ways, with just an ingredient swap or two completely shifting the flavor. For a less sweet barbecue sauce, use unsweetened ketchup or tomato paste, adding sugar or brown sugar to taste if you need to kick up any sweetness.
For a sweeter barbecue sauce, add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, and swap out the classic Dijon for honey mustard. Some people like a fruitiness in their barbecue sauces, which can add sweetness and complex flavor. Try stirring in a few spoonfuls of smooth stone fruit jam, such as apricot or peach. Blueberry, plum, and strawberry can work too!
Whiskey is another popular barbecue sauce additive, and can be stirred into basic barbecue sauce – as long as it hits the grill, the alcohol will burn off. If you’re serving the sauce as a condiment, bring to a boil and let cool before serving, so it’s not a boozy barbecue dip.
For a tangier barbecue sauce, swap out the ketchup for 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. You can create your own tangy sauce without a stove by whisking this with 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1½ teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce, ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus salt and pepper to taste. You can also add apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar to the basic barbecue sauce recipe for added acidity. Minced garlic or grated ginger are natural add-ins to barbecue sauce, and can be easily stirred in.
For a spicer sauce, add red chili flakes or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce to homemade barbecue sauce. Gochujang, a Korean hot pepper paste, works well in barbecue sauce, and can be used instead of or in addition to ketchup. Harissa paste is another lovely spicy addition to homemade barbecue sauce, for a gentle, savory heat.
For a creamier sauce, you’ll probably want a mustard- or mayonnaise-based homemade barbecue sauce. For the former, combine 1 cup yellow mustard, ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon canola oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder, and a pinch of cayenne pepper in a small saucepan, heating on low until well combined. You can also play around with various types of mustard for this yellow-hued sauce, perfect for dipping cooked foods in.
For a more savory barbecue sauce, add some umami! That is, stir in some miso paste, dried seaweed, or furikake. Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce are also popular additions to barbecue sauce, for saltiness and boldness. If you’re making a barbecue sauce for fish, try melting some anchovies or adding a squirt of anchovy paste to your sauce.
This article was written by Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.