Homemade BBQ Sauce
We have kind of a love-hate relationship with barbecue sauce. We love it, because it’s delicious and comforting, and a homemade BBQ sauce recipe is a great way to add a bright flavor to grilled meat that can be heavy with the taste of smoke. We made this to use on our Smoked Ribs to complement the flavor of the meat and the Dry Rib Rub. It clings really well to food, and when warmed up can develop deeper, caramelized notes. Commercial sauces are harder for us to love, because they have a lot of sugar and can be sort of a one-note addition. They're also much too easy to overcook and turn from saucy and fun to gummy and burnt. People will often rely on barbecue sauce to be the main source of flavor, instead of taking the time to enhance the flavors of the meat they’re working with. A good sauce should be sweet and lively, and should not be a shortcut that circumvents proper seasoning and cooking.
Like anything else that goes on your food, balance should be the goal for a good barbecue sauce, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to achieve that. To keep this barbecue sauce recipe easy we started with a ketchup base, sweet and tomato-rich. We added aromatic onion and garlic powders, fruity and herbaceous coriander, and thinned it out with a little water and some acidic cider vinegar to counter the sugary ketchup. The piquant bite of sumac boosts the overall tartness, while smoked salt and pepper help keep the acids in check. For a final punch we added smoky chipotle and the bright heat of Sandia chile peppers, to bring a little sizzle to finish the dish.
You can, of course, adjust the amount of heat in the barbecue sauce by leaving out one of the chiles, though we don’t recommend eliminating it entirely because it provides a terrific complement to the overall flavor profile of the sauce. Chile heads can add even more heat; we originally had double the amount of Sandia chile powder in the sauce and while we loved it, we thought the heat might be too much for general use.
Stir everything together in a mixing bowl and voila! You’re done. When you’re ready to serve your food you might want to warm this sauce in a small pot so you’re not putting cold sauce on hot meat, but we wouldn’t cook it. That can cause the sauce to thicken too much and get gooey. Of course, you could thin it out again with more water but when you do that you’ll start altering the overall balance of flavor, and that’s a hard road to go down. Save yourself the extra work, don’t overthink things, don’t cook the sauce, and sit down to a delicious, relaxing meal full of balanced flavor.
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon Sandia Chile Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Chipotle Morita Chile Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
- 2 teaspoons Smoked Hickory Flaked Salt
- 2 teaspoons Bourbon Barrel Smoked Pepper
- 2 teaspoons California Garlic Powder
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 2 teaspoons California Onion Powder
- 2 teaspoons Ground Sumac
1. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
3. Warm gently before serving.