Father’s Day is rapidly approaching and that means barbecue season is here, and it’s time to get grilling! In many households, Dad will be firing up the grill and making something wonderful. Today, in honor of father’s everywhere and all things barbecue, I have a quick and easy way to take your your barbecue sauce to the next level for dad…and anyone else who shows up. And, be sure to stick with me to the end of this post for a secret shortcut!
For years, I purchased BBQ sauce in the bottle. My favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s, and I have always thought it was a superior product…until I made my own. Homemade BBQ sauce is not only simple, it is cheap and can be made with items found in your pantry and refrigerator.
Here is the Basic Barbecue Sauce recipe that I like best.
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. salt or season salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder or grated garlic
1 Tbsp. grated onion (optional)
In a small saucepan, mix all ingredients and bring to a simmer, allowing to simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and serve on your favorite barbecue item. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, and any extra sauce can be stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. For today’s sauce varieties, I doubled the basic recipe, and then divided it into thirds to create the flavors I was making.
Once you have mastered the basic barbecue sauce, it’s time to have some fun. And by fun, I mean it’s time to embellish! There are many ways to embellish and personalize your barbecue sauce, and here are a few of my favorites. First, you can make the sauce sweeter by adding 2 Tbsp. of honey to the basic sauce as it’s cooling. This will not only give the sauce a sweeter flavor, but a thicker consistency that will really cling to chicken or ribs.
Another easy way to customize your sauce is to add your favorite pepper jelly or jam. One or two Tbsp. of pepper jelly gives the sauce added sweetness and a little kick, all at the same time. For the jam, again use 1-2 Tbsp. of your favorite jam, whether it be homemade or from the store. Either way, using jelly to personalize your barbecue sauce is a sure way to make it reflect your own style and served alongside pulled pork or carne asada, these will be real crowd pleasers.
Lastly, I love to add fresh or canned fruit to my barbecue sauce. Those that work especially well are crushed pineapple, finely diced peaches or fresh blueberries. Only 2 Tbs. of fruit will really add a great burst of flavor to your barbecued favorites. The pineapple is especially good with pork, and the peach and blueberry are great with beef or chicken.
One of the best things about these personalized barbecue sauces is that you really can’t go wrong. Once you have the basic sauce down, you can experiment and try something new each time you barbecue your family favorite. Making two or three options and labeling them in dipping bowls for your guests allows them to try something new, which is always fun.
For our pork ribs today, I made a small batch of honey, pineapple, and fresh blueberry. Our favorite was the blueberry, which had an amazing color and flavor. Our second favorite was the crushed pineapple, which was sweet and delicious. The honey was also a good simple sauce. Honestly, you couldn’t miss with any of them!
And now for the secret shortcut you’ve been waiting for:) You can actually use a standard bottled barbecue sauce and still do any of the embellishments listed above. I know, easy, huh? I think once you make your own barbecue sauce from scratch you won’t turn back to bottled, but if time is of the essence it is a great option.
We won’t be having a Father’s Day barbecue on Sunday, because this year it falls on our wedding anniversary and we are spending time in beautiful northern Idaho. But these upgraded barbecue sauce recipes taste so good and are so easy to make, they are great anytime. I encourage you to play around with different flavor profiles in your barbecue sauce and let me know what you tried. Barbecue season is here and it’s time to get grilling!