Great BBQ Sauces: Don’t Forget to Lick the Spoon!

To me, a great sauce makes the BBQ.  It’s like icing on the cake!  If you are aching to know what’s in your favorite sauce, good luck.  It’s easier to squeeze blood out of a turnip than it is to find out the secret ingredients in a tasty BBQ sauce but I’ve done my best to deliver what I can.

The thing about most “secret recipes” is that, in general, they contain the same base ingredients, with slight variations and different measurement ratios.  Once you get a recipe you like, you can tweak it to make it your own.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between a sauce, rub and marinade.  A rub is rubbed on the meat prior to cooking and a marinade is a liquid the meat soaks in prior to cooking.  A sauce is generally served on top of the meat or alongside of it.

For the most part, BBQ sauces contain a base of tomato paste, sweeteners, spices and vinegar.  Of course molasses is also a twist many use and others use ketchup rather than tomato paste.  Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and even meat drippings are ingredients commonly added for flavor as is liquor, like bourbon.  Great spices for sauces are among the likes of mustard or mustard powder, garlic and/or garlic powder, salt, pepper, onions or onion powder, chili powder and even ancho powder.

Basically, sauces are divided into three categories: sweet, sour and spicy.  To make one sweet, brown or white sugar is often used as well as honey, maple syrup, hoisin sauce, ketchup, jam or jelly and even soda such as Coca Cola.  For the sour effect, vinegar is popular as is lemon or lime juice, sherry wine, cider, tamarind concentrate and Worcestershire sauce.  If you like spicy, you might try adding curry, garlic, onions, mustard, chili powder, ginger, cumin or peppers.

Then there are the “off the grid” ingredients which add a very unique flavor and are often the “secret” in the “secret sauce”.  One of my absolute favorite sauces has one such ingredient…coffee.  I have swiped the recipe for you.

Texas FlamingBbq Sauce:


2 cups ketchup

1 cup expresso

1 cup brown sugar (I use dark)

1/2 cup vinegar (red wine is my pick)

1-2 chopped onion

2-3 jalapeños, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed:

4 tablespoons ancho chili powder

4 tablespoons dry mustard powder

4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 tablespoons molasses

4 tablespoons ground cumin

Simply combine the ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Then blend until smooth.  I use a blender to be sure it’s extra smooth.  Serve with your favorite BBQ meat, on the side or over the meat.

You can easily switch up the ingredients in the recipe to make it sweeter or sour, depending on your own taste.  That’s what makes a great BBQ sauce, it owning and making it your own.  It’s fun and tasty to explore new avenues and to get really creative with your sauce.  Don’t forget to pay attention to what you are doing with it though because nothing’s worse than not remembering your own “secret” in your “secret sauce”.  Have fun and …don’t forget to lick the spoon.  Licking the spoon is what life is all about!