Make Meat Better: 8 Delicious Barbecue Sauce Recipes

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

Barbecue — beloved by so many — is a staple in the American culinary scene. When most of us think of barbecue sauce, we tend to think of the standard, smoky-brown substance we find on grocery store shelves. That American standard for barbecue sauce is delicious (delicious enough to merit its own spot on this list) — but sometimes it can be fun to exercise your creative side while cooking.

There are thousands of barbecue sauce variations out there just waiting to be tried. We’ve listed seven notable recipes below for you to try out at your next barbecue. It may surprise you to learn which variation suits you best.

1. Neely’s BBQ Sauce

Every cook needs a prototypical barbecue sauce to slop on their ribs, fries, or wings. Food Network has you covered on this classic. Enjoy a mouthwatering combination of sweet, smoky, and savory flavors all wrapped up into one delicious sauce. Recipe takes an hour and 15 minutes to complete and yields 3 ½ cups.


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

2. Tangy Coffee Barbecue Sauce

Some of us like our barbecue with a little extra zip! Coffee will always bring a little zip to the table, so why not throw a cup into your barbecue sauce for good measure? Try this tangy, caffeine-infused recipe from Cooking Light on grilled steaks, pork, chicken — you name it! Recipe takes 15 minutes to complete and yields twelve servings.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce

Directions: Combine ketchup, coffee, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in pepper, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

3. Bourbon and Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce

A little bourbon makes everything better, right? In this recipe from Bon Appétit, the complex taste of the bourbon is pleasantly offset by simpler notes of brown sugar. The addition of Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce gives this variation a little zing. Liquid smoke — an ingredient designed to create a smoky flavor without having to actually smoke or barbecue your food — can be replaced with chipotle sauce in a pinch. Recipe takes 15 minutes to complete and yields 2 cups of barbecue sauce.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mild (light) molasses
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Bring all ingredients to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

4. Stout Sriracha Beer Barbecue Sauce

Are you crazy for Sriracha? Bonkers for beer? Well, both ingredients are included in this one-of-a-kind barbecue sauce spin from the Beeroness. Use a dark stout beer to create a strong, malted flavor. Balance that depth with a few dashes of Sriracha sauce — or any hot chili sauce of your choosing — to give your next barbecue a creative kick. Recipe yields 1 ½ cups of barbecue sauce and takes 15 minutes to complete.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 cup stout beer
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions: In a pot over medium heat, add the oil and allow to get hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and stir until you can smell it, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Allow to cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

5. Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

Kansas City Style barbecue sauce is what comes to mind for many people upon hearing the words “BBQ sauce.” Still, this recipe is markedly different from our prototypical sauce listed above, as it begins with a rich, buttery base and incorporates Worcestershire and chili powder to add a bit of extra zest. This recipe from Serious Eats takes about 50 minutes to complete and yields 2 ½ cups of sauce.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions: Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Transfer sauce to the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

6. Columbia Gold Barbecue Sauce

Golden barbecue is a whole new ball game! Typically attributed to the Midlands of South Carolina is the mustard-based variation of barbecue sauce. The “golden” variety of sauce is a great way to enjoy the delicious, zesty flavors of authentic barbecue in a whole new fashion. This recipe from Amazing Ribs takes 30 minutes to complete and yields a little over 3 cups of sauce.


  • 2 cups prepared yellow mustard
  • ⅔ cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle sauce or you favorite hot sauce
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules or 1 cube
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 3 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl.

If you are using a bouillon cube, crush it with a spoon in a bowl or mortar and pestle and add it to the bowl. Crush the rosemary leaves and celery seed in a mortar & pestle or in a blender or coffee grinder and add it to the bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Let it sit for a an hour in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld. No cooking necessary. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a month or more.

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

7. Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

This sauce places a little more emphasis on the heat than the others, with the addition of chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, Worcestershire, spicy mustard, and hot pepper sauce. Can you feel the burn yet? This recipe from Taste of Home takes about an hour to complete and yields twelve servings.


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Directions: In a large saucepan, sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, cayenne and pepper; cook 1 minute longer.

Stir in the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency. Cool for 15 minutes.

Strain sauce through a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl, discarding vegetables and seasonings. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Use as a basting sauce for grilled meats.

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

8. Korean Barbecue Sauce

For those of you who love Asian-inspired dishes, Korean barbecue sauce could open up a lot of new doors for you. While this sauce retains the typical ketchup base, it also incorporates a number of Asian flavors: sesame, Korean hot peppers, ginger, and rice wine, to name a few. Try it on any of your favorite barbecue dishes, and prepare to be blown away! This recipe from Cooking Channel takes 40 minutes to complete and yields 2 ½ cups.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 scallions, whites and greens, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

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