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Tangy Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Late last year I decided that I wanted to learn how to make barbecue sauce. Thinking that a homemade barbecue sauce recipe would be similar in seasonings to baked beans, I started there. I adapted the seasonings from my old baked beans recipe and guess what, it worked! With some slight adjustments it made for a very tasty barbecue sauce.


So you might be wondering – well what are those seasonings? I’ll tell you – it’s a mixture of sweet, tangy and spicy, and you can see the actual ingredients below. Brown sugar and dark cane syrup provide the sweet base. Apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard provide the signature tang. Garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt and kosher salt provide the spicy, heady overtones that make barbecue sauce unbelievably craveable.


So now we know where barbecue sauce gets its signature flavors, but what about the base of barbecue sauce? You still might be wondering what makes up the actual sauce part. Easy – it’s a combination of onions, tomatoes and garlic – the base of so many delicious things. I typically start with the three ingredients in the form you see below – sliced onions, whole canned tomatoes and minced garlic. After sweating the onion and garlic, I add the tomatoes and all those delicious seasonings from earlier.


But a great barbecue sauce is more than just ingredients. It’s the product of slow, careful cooking. The key to getting deep complex flavors from your barbecue sauce is to let it cook so that some of the liquid in the tomatoes evaporates, and the sauce is reduced and thickened. This sauce is simmered for two hours before it’s pureed into the final product. As you can see below, the sauce definitely darkens into a deep red/brown color after the simmering period. Rich delicious flavors have indeed developed.


And as you know, I always like to note when a recipe is good for freezing, and this sauce is no exception. I like to freeze about a cup at a time and then use it to make all types of dishes in the future. This recipe freezes easily and will last 8-12 months in the freezer. Just be sure to label and date your freezer bags so you know exactly what’s in them. That’s just a good kitchen practice overall.


Finally, let’s talk a bit about what you can do with this sauce. Because it’s all well and good to have barbecue sauce in February, but what do you do with it when it’s not grilling season? Well I tell you… The first time I made this barbecue sauce I mixed it with sliced smoked sausage and made little party sandwiches. The second time I made this, I turned it into a barbecue chicken pizza. And guess what? I am going to share that pizza recipe with you fine folks tomorrow! It was very tasty, I must say.  I know you’ll like it.

Craving sweet-salty-spicy goodness yet? I know I am so let’s get to that recipe!

Yield: 2 cups

Tangy Barbecue Sauce Recipe

This tangy barbecue sauce recipe is cooked on the stove over low heat for two hours resulting in a rich, delicious, versatile sauce. Try it on sandwiches or chicken pizza for a special treat!


  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1-28 ounce can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Steen's dark cane syrup (see sub. in notes section)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and kosher salt and cook for 15 minutes or so, until onions are softened and caramelized.
  2. Add garlic and cook till fragrant, about one minute.
  3. Add tomatoes and all remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir well, turn heat down to low and cover pot.
  5. Continue to cook for 2 hours until thickened and dark. Stir every 10-15 minutes to prevent sticking.
  6. Puree with an immersion blender and serve.

If you can't find dark cane syrup in your city, substitue molasses or dark agave nectar.

Prep:10 minutes

Cook:2 hours, 20 minutes

Total:2 hours, 30 minutes

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