Barbecue Sauce Basics

Happy Summer! You know what that means, right?! Time to pull off those dusty grill or barbecue covers and throw some meat on the heat! There are few things that I love more than some saucy ribs in a delicious barbecue sauce. Or perhaps a topper for a pork slider for your next summer gathering. Heck, I will even pull some meat out of the fridge, a slice of bread, grab my barbecue sauce, and have my own culinary dunk party. You may also consider a beverage and a few napkins if you indulge in the latter.

Barbecue sauce, like so many things, has become a whole other animal so to speak. It can be sweet, sour, spicy, fruity, light, dark, and a million other combinations alike. The truth is you can make it at home just as easily as you can go out and buy it. Also, you might save a couple of bucks in the process. So, I just want to give you a starter recipe that will allow you build off of. In fact, this recipe is a hybrid between a recipe out of a cookbook and a recipe that my mom uses for her famous barbecued chicken. You can get the recipe there if you want, but I want this post to be solely about the sauce. Like all the recipes I post you can customize accordingly. Only your lack of imagination will limit the possibilities. If you want some proof of something else you can do, then just click here.

When it comes to my go to barbecue sauce flavor profile I tend to like something that is tomato and vinegar based. However, I like a little sweetness and heat on the back end to balance the vinegary notes. Not only is it good for your palette, but there is some flexibility for what you can use this barbecue sauce on. For example, this sauce will play well with pork, beef or chicken without any problems.


                                                  Barbecue Sauce

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2-4 cloves garlic, finely diced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons of paprika

1/4 cup of day old coffee

A couple of pinches of kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

A few pinches of chili powder


Combine all ingredients into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and stir to make sure everything is combined. Reduce to simmer and stir occasionally until you reach your desired thickness. This could take between 25-35 minutes.


Finished barbecue sauce. Photo edited with VSCO.

By the time the sauce is done it is thick, rich, tangy, and full of flavor. Don’t you want to just drink it up? I do!

A couple of quick things about this recipe. After the sauce has been simmering about 20 minutes then take a spoonful and set it aside. No, not to sample exactly but to check the thickness. If the sauce is warm it will not be at its full thickness. So, check it every few minutes until you get the consistency you want. Remember, it will thicken a bit more in the fridge as it totally sets up. Be sure to adjust as you go if it needs more of anything else. Caution! Be careful when sampling while cooking!! This can burn your mouth very easily so let it cool for a few seconds first.

As I said at the top, there are no limits for what you do with your barbecue sauce. This gives you a launch pad to have some creative license to try something new. Probably my absolute favorite part about this recipe is that you already have all these ingredients in your pantry or in your house right now. No need for a special shopping trip to get this beautiful barbecue sauce on the table!

As always let me know what you think. Send me an email, leave a comment for find me on Instagram and let me know what you have come up with. I love to hear from you guys!