Basic barbecue sauce

Summer is "unofficially" here and we've been firing up the grill and enjoying the outdoor space (after a very thorough cleaning by my other half).  The thing I love about grilling is working together with my husband.  I get to be the sous-chef; I usually do the prepping and he takes care of everything else.  One thing I've learned is to keep things simple in order to encourage more spontaneous cookouts.  We usually grill plenty of vegetables to toss with greens and then pick a meat to go alongside.
As you can imagine, we often grill chicken.  I've learned that just a simple rub with curry powder or a marinade in teriyaki sauce makes for some quick and tasty grilled chicken.  Recently, we've been cooking up some barbecue chicken, which is where this simple, basic pantry barbecue sauce enters the story.  

Do you make your own barbecue sauce?  I haven't until now.  Since I don't use it very often, I was satisfied with an Archer Farms barbecue sauce I'd been buying from Target.  Problem came when this particular sauce was discontinued.  I had no idea what to get and one day, about 6 months ago, I took a random stab and bought a similar-looking barbecue sauce for a slow-cooker pulled pork recipe I was making for the first time.  The pulled pork turned out great but the barbecue sauce nearly ruined it because it was so spicy!  I admit the word "cayenne" might have been mentioned on the bottle but, silly me, I didn't expect store-bought bbq sauce to actually be spicy! I had to douse the thing with extra brown sugar and honey and mix it with other things to tame it.  Luckily, I managed and the pulled pork was saved but I learned that I'd better look into a good barbecue sauce alternative.  
So I was watching one of Rachael Ray's shows a while back and found her talking about her basic base barbecue sauce and ways to enhance it from there.  It was just what I needed so I saved the recipe to give it a try.  I went with the simple pantry route - making this barbecue sauce with: organic ketchup, dark brown sugar, maple syrup, cider vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, ground pepper, garlic, and opting for a familiar smokiness, a little smoked paprika.

The end result is a simple, good, barbecue sauce that's just a bit sweet, a bit tart, and a bit smoky.  Nothing earth-shattering but a very "clean" barbecue sauce where you can taste all the flavors going on.  It's a great base to build from if you're more adventurous and looking for more complex flavors. You can strike up the spice factor with cayenne or chili powder or make Rachael's bourbon version starting with this base and adding dijon mustard, orange juice, and bourbon.  
For now, I'm content to stick with this simple pantry barbecue sauce this summer.  


Making this basic barbecue sauce takes mostly pantry ingredients and about 20 minutes over the stovetop as you cook the ingredients together.  I would say the only "hassle" is the spatter.  You know how it is when you cook tomato sauce and it splatters once it comes to a boil (interesting article from The Kitchn about that), and you can expect the same here.  Covering it with a lid isn't really an option since you want to let the barbecue sauce cook down and thicken.
I simply stir often and resign myself to a little mess that I can quickly wipe clean after the sauce is done.  Once made, I cooled it down and stored it in a glass container.  I didn't keep this first batch of sauce for more than a couple of days in the fridge since we used it up quickly.  Since there is fresh garlic in this recipe, I probably wouldn't keep it in the fridge longer than a week or two.  If you'd like to keep it longer, consider using garlic powder instead of fresh.

We used the inaugural batch of sauce to grill chicken drumsticks and then some legs on another day over Memorial Day weekend.  
My husband starts applying the barbecue sauce to the chicken (which I've rubbed with a bunch of spices) about 5-10 minutes before the chicken is done so as not to burn the sauce.  They were finger-licking good!
Here's to plenty of sunshine and good weather for cookouts and happy living this summer!

Recipe:

Basic Barbecue Sauce
From Rachael Ray

- Makes approximately 1 cup - 

1 cup organic ketchup
2 large garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark maple syrup
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a small pot and cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat. The mixture will bubble as it cooks.  Stir occasionally and cook until thickened and flavors are combined, 15-20 minutes.




40 comments:

  1. Monica your chicken looks wonderful. I adore grilling and it does seem more relaxed than cooking indoors - all by myself :) I am sure your family loved this recipe. I make something similar and it's my husbands favorite sauce ever. Thanks! Have a great week.

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    1. It is a nice family thing to do, isn't it? : ) We managed to grill and sit out Saturday before all this rain hit us. It is going to be a soaker all week. Let's enjoy all the sun when it's out and available. : )

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  2. Wha a lovely sauce! York chicken must have been very tasty! I'd love to give it a try!

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    1. It's simple and tasty - can't beat that combo in my book! : )

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  3. This reminds me of my childhood as my dad used to make barbecue chicken for us all the time. It's so summery and so delicious! Your sauce looks and sounds wonderful.

    Sues

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    1. Grilling and barbecue chicken are definitely great memories from summer.

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  4. Yay for grilling season! It's my favorite since the husbands get to take over the cooking :) The chicken and that barbecue sauce look amazing! I love a basic barbecue sauce, the flavors sound perfect! So delicious and finger-lickin' good!

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    1. Yes, I love cooking with my husband and getting a chance to sit back and watch, too. It's great he does all the heavy-duty work! :)

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  5. Sounds quite simple. I must give this a try too.

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    1. If you don't have a favorite barbecue sauce or just want a little sometimes, this is such a "cleaner" option than most store-bought. So easy! : )

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  6. Hi Monica, I'm the sous-chef during grilling season here as well, love summertime. Your chicken turned out beautifully, love the color.

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    1. Hi Cheri - hope you are well. Summertime brings such a huge shift in how we all live and eat, doesn't it...

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  7. This looks so easy and I looove dipping anything in bbq sauce :)

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    1. I have to admit that my condiment addiction is ketchup...but a simple homemade bbq sauce was just what I needed in my repertoire.

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  8. I love grilling too for that reason! I prep everything and then the husband takes over - it's always so nice to sort of cook together for a change! I love homemade bbq sauce - this looks awesome! And all the possibilities to use it with summer ahead!

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    1. It's just like that for us! : ) It's nice that often we go shopping together beforehand and take the little guy with us and he has a say in what he wants to eat. It's a little family affair. : )

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  9. I often just buy BBQ sauce but I like this simple no-frills recipe! That chicken looks perfect.

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    1. Thanks, Bianca. I keep it simple and try to build/learn from there. : )

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  10. You can never go wrong with BBQ sauce, a staple for the summer months.

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    1. It's great to know I can make some myself so easily.

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  11. I was shocked when I discovered how easy BBQ sauce is to make...and how much better it tastes when you do make it yourself!

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    1. Okay, Joanne - you have summed up what I wanted to say in this post in that one sentence. I have never been concise - but hopefully, my shared feeling came across. ; )

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  12. I have never made barbecue sauce...now I am inspired to try your recipe...thanks for the inspiration Monica...it sure sounds delicious!
    Have a great day :)

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    1. First for me too and it is so easy, the flavors are so present. Have a good week!

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  13. Grilling is so much fun especially when your spending time with your family or friends. This sauce is great in flavor and simply to make! These wings looks wonderful :)

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    1. I think the spending time outdoors together is part of the appeal for sure. Thanks, Maggie!

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  14. I love making my own condiments…but by no means do I make all of my own, all the time. This bbq sauce sounds amazing – such a mouthwatering combination of flavors and look at that grilled chicken, look so yummy!

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    1. I know what you mean...I make homemade teriyaki sauce sometimes but still have the bottle in the fridge for quick go-to. I didn't realize bbq sauce was so easy to make...and it tastes great and I feel good knowing exactly what went in there. : )

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  15. Monica, these chicken are nicely charred!!! I really want some! BBQ sauce is one of those things that sounds really complicated, but they are in fact very easy to make. And we can always adjust the sauce to our liking. Much better than buying from store! I have only made 1 kind of bbq sauce, which is a peach-bourbon one. Sweet and tangy. Yours seems very savory. I would love to try that next time!

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    1. Thanks, I'll let my husband know you approve. Peach-bourbon sounds great!! I am starting here but many ways to experiment from the base. : )

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  16. I just had chicken wings for lunch actually, but your version looks so much better! I've always disliked store bought BBQ sauces, but never thought of making it myself, will be trying this recipe out!

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    1. Jenny, ketchup is what I reach for and I never gave too much thought to barbecue sauce until the one I was relying on was discontinued. Turns out it's so simple to make and worth it if you're having a cookout or something. : )

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  17. Oooh never thought about making my own bbq sauce, but sounds like a great idea! The chicken looks delicious, yum (:

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    1. It's really easy and if you ever have time for a family cookout or gathering, it's totally worth a go. Hope all is well!

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  18. Oh, I am liking this sauce!! Great inspiration for a forthcoming BBQ I think....

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    1. Glad you like it. It's great because you can literally just whip it up in half an hour so no need for much advanced planning...and when it comes to grilling, you never know with the weather and such. : )

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  19. Wow! Such mouthwatering photos. I do like to make sauces from scratch and have tried out a few versions of barbecue sauce...the most adventurous one being a chocolate version. It tasted alright but the chocolate was lost somewhere so I decided to reserve chocolate for desserts only:-( Your recipe looks perfect with the right consistency and colour.

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    1. I know just what you mean. I hate to "waste" any chocolate if it's not prominent in the ultimate product. If that's the case, I might as well enjoy my chocolate straight-up. This is a great starter sauce for someone like me. : )

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  20. Making your own bbq sauce is the best! Especially in the summer - we do a lot of grilling too, and it's nice to have a batch of sauce on hand versus going out and buying bottles of it. Love the idea of it being more of a "pantry sauce" one where everything you need is probably in the kitchen already; always makes it much more fun to do and you get to use up ingredients - a bonus in my house. :)

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    1. This is a good place to start for me. We don't use a lot of barbecue sauce but when we do, a homemade one is sure a great option. Enjoy all the grilling and chilling this summer!

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