Sweet and Tangy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Thickened BBQ Sauce, Ready to Puree


Fear Conquered: Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Sometimes life hands you barbecue sauce moments. Do you pick the tomatoey barbecue sauce or the vinegary one? Or do you pick the mustard one? Or the spicy? Or the sweet? Or the smokey? Or maybe one that blends all these flavors? But then is it Kansas City style, North Carolina style, Hawaiian, Texan or St. Louis?

If you ask a bunch of different barbecue sauce connoisseurs, I guarantee you'll get a bunch of different answers. "Vinegar, all the way!" "You can't make a good barbecue sauce without tomatoes!" "Don't you DARE use tomatoes!" "All about the mustard, man!" "Oooooh, it's gotta be spicy!" "Nope, nope, gotta be smokey!" "Noooooooo, crazy, it has to be SWEET!" "And by the way, I only eat North Carolina style barbecue." "Nasty - I only eat Kansas City style!"

You'll be left crying in the corner, encircled by countless bottles of barbecue sauce, begging someone to tell you, "Which is right?!"

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

I'll tell you. And then you can listen to the din of howling protesters with true barbecue sauce pedigrees. Because I'm not a connoisseur. And the connoisseurs are not going to like my answer.

Here it is: Forget about what everyone says is authentic. Just pick the sauce you love. If you love sweet, smokey and spicy (like me), then that's your sauce. If you love vinegar, then vinegar, if mustard, then mustard. Who cares if it's Kansas City style or North Carolina style? Who. Cares. You know the flavors you love, so forget about the experts and their angry infighting over authenticity.

Now before someone sends the mob to lynch me, let me be clear: I'm not saying there's no value in understanding the different styles of barbecue sauce, the different flavor profiles and understanding what defines, say, Kansas City style sauce vs. North Carolina. Read up, study, take a quiz, whatever. It can only help you make a better barbecue sauce. Just don't be a slave to the "authentic". Unless of course we're talking about you, then you should always be authentic. But I'm talking about barbecue sauce - what are you talking about?

Sauce Whisked Together

My barbecue sauce is sweet, tangy and smokey - in that order. It's got a little heat from the ginger, but nothing extreme. And it doesn't really match the flavor profile of any of the "authentic" sauces. It's thick, the flavors are layered and I think it's addictive. It's easy to make without any fancy ingredients. So while I make no claims of authenticity - I do make the claim that it's perfect. For me.

Is it perfect for you? I'll let you get back to me on that...


Photo Tutorial

Olive Oil
Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat while you prepare the onion.

1 Yellow Onion, Halved
Peel and trim 1 large yellow onion.

Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
Finely dice the onion.

Diced Onion Added to Sauce Pan
Add the onion to the hot oil and saute for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

1 Garlic Clove to be Minced
Mince 1 clove of garlic.

Crystalized Ginger, Minced
Mince 1 Tablespoon of crystalized ginger.

Minced Garlic and Cyrstalized Ginger Added to Sauce Pan
Once the onion is translucent, add the garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for 1 minute until fragrant.

While the onion, garlic and ginger saute, prepare the sauce ingredients. It starts with 1/4 cup molasses.

Maple Syrupe
Add 1/4 cup of maple syrup.

1/4 Cup White Vinegar
Add 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar.

1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
Add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.

Worcestershire Sauce
Add 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.

Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Add 1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce.

Add 2 Tablespoons honey.

1/4 Cup Homemade Tomato Paste
Add 1/4 cup homemade tomato paste.

Spice Mix for Barbecue Sauce
Combine 1 Tablespoon mustard powder, 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Spice Mix Added to Sauce Ingredients
Add the spice mix to the other sauce ingredients.

Sauce Whisked Together
Whisk to thoroughly combine.

Sauce Added to Onions, Garlic and Ginger
Pour the sauce mixture over the onions, garlic and ginger. Stir to thoroughly combine.

Sauce Pan Partially Covered
Cover the sauce and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.

Thickened BBQ Sauce, Ready to Puree
Thoroughly stir the sauce once every 15 minutes while simmering.

BBQ Sauce Added to Ninja Blender
After the sauce has finished simmering, pour into a blender (I used a Ninja).

Pureed BBQ Sauce
Puree the sauce until smooth.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Transfer the sauce to a sealable container and allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.


Sweet and Tangy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 30 min
     Cook Time: 1 hr

Ingredients (makes 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon minced crystalized ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup homemade tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon ground mustard powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat; add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes; add the minced garlic and crystalized ginger and sauté for another minute
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients in a large measuring cup; pour the mixture into the sauce pan and stir to combine
  3. Cover the sauce and bring to the boil; reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes
  4. Using a blender, puree the sauce; allow the sauce to cool to room temperature then transfer to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2013 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
  • Vinegar: I combine two different vinegars to achieve a nicely balanced tang for my sauce - the distilled white vinegar has a lot of bite while the cider vinegar has a slightly sweet edge. If you prefer an even tangier sauce, replace the cider vinegar with distilled white.

    1/4 Cup White Vinegar
  • Mustard: I'm not a big fan of aggressive mustard flavor so I only use a tablespoon of mustard powder. But if you're a mustard fan, you might want to think about adding some prepared yellow mustard in addition to the mustard powder.

    Spice Mix for Barbecue Sauce
  • Sweetness: A lot of sauces uses molasses and brown sugar to add varying levels of sweetness to a sauce. I like to replace the brown sugar with maple syrup - I think the syrup adds a little smokiness of its own and it's a bit more intensely sweet than brown sugar (so I can use less of it).

    Maple Syrupe
  • Smokiness: I don't add liquid smoke flavoring to my sauce. Instead, I rely on the smoked paprika to provide that smoky element. However, if you're a disciple of smokiness, you will probably want even more smoke flavor, so consider adding a drop or two of liquid smoke flavor.

    Hot Smoked Paprika
  • Spicy: This sauce really isn't very spicy (it certainly won't blow your socks off). The ginger and smoked paprika provide a little heat, but if you really want to kick things up, add 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle chile power. That may add the welcome burn your tongue craves...

    Crystalized Ginger
  • Layered Flavor: I think the trick to a really tasty barbecue sauce comes from the long and slow simmer. Not only will the sauce thicken considerably, the flavors also get a chance to really intermingle into layers of flavor rather than individual flavors fighting for dominance. Pureeing the sauce at the end also helps.

    Pureed BBQ Sauce

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  1. Nothing better than homemade barbecue sauce. Not only it delicious, it is also good quality because of the ingredients that you personally put in it. :)

  2. Thanks so much for the kind words, Ray - and I agree, there are so many advantages to making your own barbecue sauce. I started making it because I wanted to avoid high fructose corn syrup and preservatives, but now I do it because I actually prefer the taste ;)

  3. Haha! I saw this post and was like, wait a minute, that sounds like me... I was just talking about how devoted people are to their specific style of barbecue sauce! I'm with you on this one, though - go with what you like! - and I can tell we have very similar tastes. :)

  4. Awww, thank you, Anneli! I really think homemade BBQ sauce is easy to make and adjust - the real trick is figuring out what you like ;) I hope you do get a chance to try it (or another version of the homemade kind) and let me know how it goes...

  5. Actually, I'm fairly sure I saw your post last night when I was reading through blog posts. I had finished scheduling mine earlier in the afternoon and I chuckled when I read yours. Mostly because this discipleship to specific flavors of BBQ seems to a common these ;)

  6. What a delicious post Mark. Sounds perfect to me! I had to laugh to myself when you mentioned how confusing barbecue sauces can be. Just today I learned of one I never heard of before; Alabama White Barbecue Sauce. It's made with mayonnaise!

    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and hands on directions. Louise

    P.S. I hope this goes through. Had a difficult time signing in with Disque.

  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed, Louise, and sorry to hear about your troubles with Disqus - fortunately it looks like everything posted ok so the time you spent wasn't wasted... I've never heard of Alabama White Barbecue Sauce, but now I'm going to look it up! ;)

  8. Jess @ FloptimismJune 7, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    I love the idea of putting crystallized ginger in barbecue sauce!

  9. It really does add a nice bit of background heat - as well as rounding out the flavors :)

  10. I love the idea of the ginger! Definitely something I want to try sometime. Barbecue sauce is so much fun to make - so many different kinds to play with. Good stuff - thanks.

  11. As ever, I'm so pleased you enjoyed, John - it's always so gratifying to hear. And the crystalized ginger just seemed to make sense to me, especially since I use this same BBQ sauce for my baked beans recipe... If you try ginger in your sauce, let me know what you think...

  12. Nice to see some variety of sauces. http://www.waldosbarbeque.com/


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