Sure, you can open a bottle of commercial barbecue sauce and brush it onto your meats or vegetables, but it only takes about 10 minutes to make your own sauce. A homemade barbecue sauce will beat any jarred sauce, and the best part is you can adapt the basic recipe and add in your favorite ingredients.
It’s fun to experiment with flavors until you’ve created your own signature barbecue sauce. Always add in new ingredients in small amounts so that you don’t create a sauce that’s unpalatable. Let your taste buds guide you to the perfect sauce that hits all the high notes you are looking for. Write down your additions so the next time you want to recreate your delicious sauce, you’ll know exactly what ingredients you used.
Basic barbecue sauce
Here’s an old stand-by, basic sauce that is very simple to make. Place two cups of ketchup into a medium-sized sauce pan. Stir in 1/2 cup of water or red wine. Stir in 1/4 cup of cider or wine vinegar and four teaspoons of either Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce. Add in a tablespoon of onion powder and the same amount of garlic powder. Cook over low heat and stir to blend the ingredients. In 10 minutes or less your sauce will be silky, thick and rich and ready to use.
Spicy barbecue sauce
Here comes the fun part of making your own sauce. Now you can add to the traditional flavors in your basic sauce and turn on the heat. Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, chili powder, dry mustard, dried chipotle pepper or even red pepper flakes will make your sauce hotter and spicier. Obviously you can’t add all these ingredients at once, so try just one or two and remember to taste your sauce so you can adjust the heat. The best predictors of how hot or spicy your sauce will be are inside your own mouth. Your taste buds will allow you to tweak your ingredients until you have the flavor you want. Don’t worry if you create a sauce that seems to be too hot. You can always add more ketchup to the pan which will reduce the heat.
Sweet barbecue sauce
If you love a sweet sauce, you can make your basic barbecue sauce but add in a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, honey or molasses to give it a sweeter flavor. Always add sugary flavors sparingly, and be sure to taste your sauce to ensure you haven’t made it too sweet.
Bourbon barbecue sauce
For a unique earthy flavor in your sauce omit the 1/2 cup of water or wine and add in 1/2 cup of bourbon instead. As you cook the sauce the alcohol will burn off, and you’ll end up with a complex but mild, woody flavor in your barbecue sauce. People won’t be able to guess what is giving your sauce such a deep flavor.
Tequila barbecue sauce
One liquor that adds a special flavor to a barbecue sauce is Tequila. Because Tequila has a strong and sweet flavor, use only 1/4 cup of Tequila and add 1/4 cup of water to your pan. If you like, squeeze one or two fresh limes and add the juice to the pan for a tangy sauce that is superb on shrimp, scallops or ribs.
Beer barbecue sauce
If you love beer, you will love this barbecue sauce even though the beer flavor is not overwhelming once it’s cooked. Use a 1/2 cup of the darkest beer you have on hand. Light beers and lagers won’t give you the punch that a heavy dark beer like a stout will offer.
However you design your own barbecue sauce, be sure to add it to foods at the end of the cooking time so that it won’t burn or char the outside of your food.