How to Make Basic Barbecue Sauce

How impressed will your friends and family be when they taste your own secret barbecue sauce? You don’t have to be a professional chef to get rave reviews. Start with this basic recipe and then modify it to suit your tastes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 c. tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and black pepper
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. cider or white wine vinegar
  • liquid smoke (optional)

Making barbecue sauce is actually quite simple. Start by heating the vinegar and molasses together in a small non-reactive saucepan until the molasses is resolved. Then remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Voilà! You’ve just made a basic sauce from scratch.

Experimenting with variations is where you really get to have fun. For a zestier sauce, sauté 1 cup of minced onions and a few garlic cloves until soft and add them to your sauce. For a sweeter sauce, add honey or brown sugar. Or if you really want to show off, soak some raisins in rum and puree them into the sauce. To make an herbed sauce for more savory results, add dry rubbed sage or fresh minced rosemary. You can experiment with different herbs you like.

 Love whiskey sauce? Start your sauce by simmering ½ cup of bourbon for 1 minute. Then continue with the basic recipe, adding in the molasses and just 2 tablespoons of vinegar (half of what the basic recipe calls for). Bourbon works best for whiskey sauce because of the high sugar content.

With any of these variations, don’t hesitate to use liquid smoke to get that smoky flavor people associate with barbecue. After all, that’s what commercial producers do!

Finally, a note on grilling: to make sure your results truly impress your dinner crowd, wait to brush on the sauce until your meat is almost completely cooked. If you apply it too early, it cooks the sauce too long and the sugar in it will burn instead of brown.

Mastered your sauce? Perfect! Remember, it’s your secret recipe now, so sshh…

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