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The Best Barbecue Sauce

Special Equipment

  • Triple-mesh wire sieve
  • Sturdy rubber or wooden spatula

For the sauce:

  • 2 cups prepared ketchup
  • 2 cups (two 12-ounce bottles) prepared chili sauce (I use Heinz)
  • 1 generous cup Minced Yellow Onion
  • 8 large cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored honey
  • 2 rounded tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 generous tablespoons “Better Than Bouillon” (beef version), available in well-stocked supermarkets
  • 1 or 2 fresh habanero peppers (also called Scotch Bonnets), or jalapenos, pierced several times with a fork, or 1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, to taste (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) To assemble the sauce: Combine all the ingredients except the ground black pepper in a 2 1/2-quart, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan. Stir well to combine and place the pan over medium heat, with the cover ajar. Bring the mixture to a full simmer, stirring occasionally, and then turn the heat to low. Continue to simmer until the sauce is thickened and the color deepens considerably, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (see below). Uncover, stir in a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the sauce cool, uncovered, until just warm. If making a doubled or tripled amount, simmer the sauce for 45 minutes. (While cooling, lay a clean kitchen towel over pan to prevent debris from falling into the sauce.)

2) To strain the sauce: Pour the sauce through a triple-mesh wire sieve that’s positioned over another bowl and, using the flat edge of a sturdy rubber spatula, or a wooden spatula, force the sauce through, leaving the onions, garlic and peppers behind. Discard the solids, pour the sauce into jars, and affix their lids. Store the sauce in the refrigerator.

Timing is Everything
This sauce can be fully assembled and stored in the refrigerator for 6 months.

Watch the Video.

Comments (6)


  1. Have you ever replaced the molasses and honey with fruit preserves (maybe Apricot Preserves)? I think that it might give the sauce the sweetness plus the addition of the fruit would be nice. What do you think?

    Comment by Sharon — May 14, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  2. Where do I buy the triple mesh wire sieve?

    Comment by Bill lujan — January 24, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

  3. Hi, Bill.
    On the internet, look up “14-inch triple mesh wire strainer” and you’ll get a few different links. Here is one that seems to have the best price. http://www.foodservicedirect.com/product.cfm/p/224084/Winco-Tinned-Double-Mesh-Strainer-with-Reinforced-Bowl-14-inch.htm
    I hope this helps…let me know.

    Comment by Lauren — January 25, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  4. Hi Lauren,
    I made the BBQ sauce and my family really loved it! Thanks!! I want to make another batch, but I’m trying to cut out high fructose corn syrup and the chili sauce has it. Do you have any suggestions on what I could use to replace it?

    Comment by sandy tracy — July 16, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

  5. Hi Sandy.
    You could substitute a brand of Ketchup that doesn’t use corn syrup. So you’d just use all Ketchup and forget about the chili sauce–unless of course you find a brand of chili sauce that’s made without it! Hope this helps!

    Comment by Lauren — July 18, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

  6. Hello there just wondering. Wondering if anyone knows how to make Frank’s Hot Sauce from scratch…portions, type of peppers, etc?. Ingredients on the bottle say…Aged Cayenne Red Peppers, Vinegar, Water, Salt and Garlic Powder, guess I can try that recipe and play with these ingredients..

    Comment by stubbs barbecue sauce — July 21, 2013 @ 11:49 am

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