It’s always great to have your own signature dishes when guests come to dinner. The same holds true when it comes to barbecue, you should definitely have a signature BBQ sauce.
I have made a lot of great BBQ sauces for this site, but never a classic sauce that is great on it’s own, but also lends itself for you build on. It has a great tang and there is a nice complexity to the sweetness that comes from three sources — brown sugar, molasses, and honey. You can tweak it any way you want. More tang? Just add a little extra vinegar. Adjust the sweetness anyway you like by increasing one and decreasing or omitting another. Often I won’t a more molasses forward sauce, so I omit the honey and increase the molasses.
I’ve included a few variations at the end of the recipe to give you a start at creating your own signature sauce.
- 2 cups ketchup
- ¾ cups water
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature before transferring to an air-tight container. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks.
- Spicy: add ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper per 1 cup of sauce
- Smoky: add ¼ to ½ teaspoon liquid smoke per 2 cups of sauce
- Sweet Chipotle: increase honey to ¼ cup and 3 canned chipotles in adobo pureed with 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce (full recipe)
- Cranberry: omit honey and replace with ½ cup jellied cranberry sauce (full recipe)
Cheers and Happy Grilling!