This smoky Bourbon BBQ Sauce is a tasty combination of sweet and spicy. Refrigerate it for a day or two before brushing on ribs, brisket or grilled chicken!
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A couple of weekends ago, we checked out a new smokehouse in the area. Whenever I go to a new smokehouse, I always order the brisket first. Brisket is an easy way to test the quality of the restaurant. Bad brisket? I won’t be back. Good brisket? I’m intrigued – tell me more.
My wife does the same except she orders ribs. Bad ribs? One and done. Good ribs? Let’s come back here!
No matter whether it’s brisket, ribs or another smoked meat, a good barbeque sauce is an absolute requirement. This place had an assortment of sauces, and one of them was a Bourbon BBQ Sauce. We like bourbon – in fact, our collection is ~600 bottles at last count. That’s not the point of this post, though. We also like barbecue sauce. Needless to say, we were all in on a barbecue sauce made with bourbon!
Bourbon BBQ Sauce
Making homemade BBQ sauce is really not that difficult. Seriously! It’s actually a bit surprising how easy it is to make a good barbeque sauce at home. This Bourbon BBQ Sauce only took ~45 minutes to make, and most of that time was letting it simmer on the stovetop.
One important rule about making homemade BBQ sauce is letting it rest. Like soups and stews, sauces get better over time. I made this Bourbon BBQ Sauce on a Thursday, and then we used it with ribs on the smoker the next day. On Day 1, the sauce was good, but you could still taste each individual ingredient. By Day 2 or 3? The flavors all meld together into something magical!
How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce
If you have a saucepan, then you can make homemade BBQ sauce. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples. Add in a few other items like garlic, onions, jalapenos and a good glug of American whiskey, and that’s it.
The sauce simmers on the stovetop for a bit, and then it gets pressed through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the onions, garlic and jalapenos. Don’t worry – the solids get removed, but the flavor is still there! This Bourbon BBQ Sauce is a bit on the spicy side thanks to the jalapenos, but we felt like it was just the right amount of heat. Of course, you could reduce, eliminate or even add more (!) jalapenos to adjust the heat level.
Ingredients for Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Bourbon Whiskey. No need to reach for the top-shelf or rare bottle of bourbon here. Go with a shelf staple instead. Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels are all solid options.
- Garlic and Onions. Adds flavor to the sauce. They get strained out after cooking.
- Jalapenos. Adds flavor and heat. 2 large jalapenos left us with a sauce that was spicy without being too insanely hot. Feel free to use less (or more) jalapenos based on your personal preferences.
- Ketchup. Most BBQ sauces are tomato-based. This version uses ketchup as a shortcut to cooking tomatoes down with sugar.
- Brown Sugar. Adds a deep sweetness that pairs well with the bourbon.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Adds a tangy flavor. Vinegar also helps tenderize the meat if you brush this Bourbon BBQ Sauce on ribs, chicken, etc. while cooking.
- Tomato Paste. Boosts the tomato flavor. You could use more ketchup and then omit the brown sugar, but I like the depth of flavor from the brown sugar.
- Worcestershire Sauce, Liquid Smoke, Salt and Pepper. Seasonings and spices that round out this sauce and make it absolutely delicious!
Storing Leftover BBQ Sauce
Leftover homemade barbecue sauce should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. While it can be frozen, I don’t recommend it. Use it fresh – this sauce can literally go on anything from grilled chicken breasts to smoked chicken wings to ribs to burgers to pulled pork….and the list goes on.
If you’re looking for a fun way to mix things up, then make a batch of this bourbon barbecue sauce! We’re quite picky with barbecue sauce around here, and this one earned a solid two thumbs up. Cheers!
Did you make this Bourbon BBQ Sauce recipe at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see how you used it!
Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Using a medium sauce pan, add whiskey, garlic, onions and jalapenos; simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until onions have softened.
- Add remaining ingredients (ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, salt and pepper); stir until well combined.
- Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove onions, garlic and jalapenos.
- Let sauce cool and then refrigerate in an air-tight container for 1-2 days. (Note: This sauce can be used at this stage, but it will taste much better if you let it rest for a day or two in the fridge!)
Looking for some tasty ways to use this sauce? Check out some of these ideas: