Bobby Flay’s 3 Easy Tips for Store-Bought Barbecue Sauce but Better

TL; DR: 

  • Bobby Flay recommends not adding too many ingredients to store-bought barbecue sauce.
  • The celebrity chef suggests using “good quality” barbecue sauce as a base. 
  • His preferred additions of choice are Worcestershire sauce, chipotle, and acid.
Bobby Flay, who has storebought barbecue sauce tips, smiles as he looks on
Bobby Flay | Lloyd Bishop/NBC

Can’t find the perfect barbecue sauce at the grocery store? Want to spruce up a bottle sitting in the pantry? Whatever the scenario, Bobby Flay has barbecue sauce tips for improving the store-bought stuff. The celebrity chef, with years of experience sharing grilling tips and tricks, turns to three ingredients to “dress up” store-bought barbecue sauce. 

The celebrity chef keeps it simple with 3 ingredients 

Flay shared how he likes to “bump” up store-bought barbecue sauce in a YouTube video for Food Network’s BBQ Brawl.  To “cut out time,” he buys a “good quality” barbecue sauce and doctor’s it up at home. 

“What I like to do is take the base of that sauce and bump it up with a couple of my own ingredients,” he said. “Let’s just say, three ingredients, a handful of ingredients. Because we don’t want to embellish it too much. You just want to give it your own special touch.”

Before adding any of the ingredients, Flay explained he starts by putting the barbecue in a pot and bringing it to a simmer on the stove. 

Bobby Flay barbecue sauce tip: Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce 

Flay’s barbecue sauce tip No. 1? Dig Worcestershire sauce out of the pantry and add some — maybe a few dashes — to the store-bought barbecue sauce. 

“I like to use Worcestershire sauce,” Flay said. “This is something we always have in our pantry. I promise you, it’s in there.” 

“The thing I love about Worcestershire sauce is that it’s tart. It has a tamarind flavor,” he said. The cookbook author also revealed it has anchovies in it. “A lot of people don’t know that but it gives it that, sort of, umami flavor, that I just love.” 

Bobby Flay adds chipotle to ‘pump up the flavor’

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Flay’s barbecue tip No. 2 is to use chipotle purée. “Now if you’ve watched Food Network at all you know that I love chipotle,” he said. “They’re usually in something called an adobo sauce which is like a tomato-y, vinegary sauce.” 

The restauranteur continued, saying a can of chipotles in adobo is practically undetectable to the eye. However, it will add heat and smokiness. 

“In this case, it almost looks like the same color as the barbecue sauce but you’re going to get a smoky, fiery flavor to it,” he said. “It’s not too hot but it’s really going to pump up the flavor in a really nice, smoky way.” 

Ultimately, “It’s going to feel like you’ve smoked your barbecue sauce,” he explained, and “that’s a really good thing.”

Bobby Flay puts acid in the barbecue sauce with a squeeze of fresh lime juice

Lastly, for Flay’s barbecue sauce tip No. 3. The former Boy Meets Grill star adds acid to the sauce “to balance things out.” 

Lime juice is his ingredient of choice. “It just brightens up the sauce and cuts through the richness as well,” he said as he whisked the sauce. 

Finally, after adding all three of the ingredients, Flay leaves the barbecue to simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. What’s left is “a barbecue sauce that’s all your own.”

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