When it comes to making homemade barbecue sauce, your only limit is your imagination (and maybe your spice collection).
Use these tips to create the perfect sauce every time:
Use the Best Base Ingredients
- Most barbecue sauce is tomato based, which usually means ketchup when making sauce at home. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you're after a more pure finished product, use canned crushed tomatoes or pureed fresh tomatoes in the summer for a fresh-tasting sauce that contains less salt and sugar than most ketchup-based sauces.
- Carolina-style mustard-based sauces are excellent on grilled chicken and sausages. You can change things up by using different types of mustard. Try spicy brown mustard for brushing brats or a small amount of Dijon mustard the next time you grill chicken.
- Vinegar-based sauce like this East Carolina Style Barbecue "Mop" are excellent for dousing pulled pork or smoked chicken. Change the flavor of the mop by varying the vinegar used: Apple cider vinegar yields a milder sauce, rice vinegar makes for a sweeter result, and flavored vinegars (think fruit or herb infused) can change the entire flavor profile of your dish.
Vary the Spices
- Vary spices and seasonings to suit your tastes and play around with the recipes for some flavorful fun! For example, if you aren't fond of garlic, use another allium such as onion.
- For milder onion flavor, use dried chives in your next sauce.
- Add Mexican flair with ground cumin and oregano.
- Try using ground or fresh ginger, lemongrass and soy sauce (be sure to pick gluten-free if you avoid gluten) for an Asian-inspired barbecue sauce.
Shop for Seasonal Ingredients
- Try adding finely chopped fresh summer fruits (think strawberries, blueberries, or peaches) to your next batch of sauce to add natural sweetness and a flavorful twist.
- Don't overlook the power of pumpkin, even in barbecue sauce! Add some canned pumpkin to a mustard-based sauce for a thick, slightly sweet result at your fall cookout.
- When apples are abundant in early autumn, peel and dice one to add natural sweetness to your barbecue sauce. You can mash or blend it in with an immersion blender for a smooth result.
Play with the Sweetener
- Change up the sweetener you use for a slight change in the taste of the sauce. For basic sweetness use granulated sugar.
- Try light or dark brown sugar or molasses for more depth of flavor.
- Pure maple syrup or honey can add a unique flavor as well.
- If you're cutting the sugar in your diet, substitute part (or all) of the sugar in barbecue sauce with fruits like apples, pumpkin, pears, or plums. Cooked right into the sauce, these fruits add natural sweetness. Blend the cooked sauce for smooth results.
No matter what your preference is, you can make the perfect sauce at home any time!