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How to Make a Great Barbecue Sauce

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There are thousands of barbecue sauce recipes available today, and each region has their own unique style.  Some are ketchup and tomato based, parts of South Carolina use mustard, while others are as simple as vinegar and pepper.  With that being said, the most recreated and sold in stores is the Memphis style sweet sauces.

These are usually a tomato or ketchup based sauce with either molasses or brown sugar added with other spices to develop a sweet tasting sauce.  Many of the store bought brands are really sweet, so here is a classic Memphis sauce, with a little kick and will teach you how to make a bbq sauce.

how to make bbq sauce

Steps to create a good barbecue sauce

  1. Start with several cups of ketchup or tomato paste
  2. Cook in brown sugar or molasses
  3. Add additional spices
  4. Finish your sauce and apply to meat

1. Start with several cups of ketchup or tomato paste

To recreate a good store bought style sauce, you need to start with ketchup or tomato paste.  I suggest using ketchup as it already has some flavor and is a little thinner and easier to work with.  Start with two cups ketchup, and place it in a saucepan on your stove top.  Turn the heat on medium heat, and begin to bring it up to temperature.

2. Cook in brown sugar or molasses

When the saucepan begins to warm, place in either brown sugar or molasses.  I prefer brown sugar as it’s a little sweeter, and brings a distinct flavor to the sauce.  Start with ¼ cup and slowly whisk the sugar in until it is completely dissolved into the ketchup.  The heat will help melt the sugar and infuse it in.

Taste your creation, if you feel it needs to be sweeter, add small amounts of the sugar until it reaches your likening.  Once you’ve reached the desired sweetness level, your sauce will be fairly thick.

In order to thin this out I usually add either vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, depending on preference.  Just a couple of tablespoons will do.

3. Add additional spices

In order to get a great tasting sauce, you will need to add some additional spices.  I add garlic powder, ground mustard, onion powder and a dash of cayenne pepper and about 10 drops of hot sauce.  This will give your sauce a kick at the end.  When you first taste the sauce it will be sweet, followed by a slow rising heat, but not overpowering.  I don’t measure as I’ve been making this sauce for years but a couple of tablespoons of each, along with a teaspoon of the cayenne should suffice.

Just taste your sauce over and over and adjust until you like it.  If it’s too hot, add a little more sugar, if it’s too sweet add a little vinegar or hot sauce.

4. Finish your sauce and apply to meat

When you reached the desired flavor, turn down the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.  This allows the flavors to all meld together and create the final great flavors you’re looking for.  While this is happening, you should have your meat cooking on the grill.

You want to apply the sauce directly to the cooking meat while both are hot.  This will let the sauce seep into the meat better, and won’t reduce your cooking times by adding something cold to something hot.  You should also add several layers of sauce, every five minutes or so until the meat is done.  This produces that thick, stick coating everyone loves.

Experiment to create your signature sauce

Hopefully this article will help in how to make a bbq sauce.  My suggestions are to experiment with different spices and combinations until you love one of them, then that will become your own signature sauce you can share with the world.  The most important aspect is that you enjoy it, and that is all that matters.

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