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Classic Barbecue Sauce

Posted by & filed under Sauce.

Makes 3 generous cups

Brush this sauce onto chicken parts during the last minute or two of grilling or serve at the table with ribs, brisket, or pulled pork.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, with their juice
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup orange juice


Heat the oil in  a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until hot and shimmering (but not smoking).  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until thickened, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Purée  the sauce, in batches if necessary, in a blender or the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Transfer the sauce to a bowl and use immediately or let cool, then store in an airtight container.  (The sauce can be refrigerated for 2 weeks or frozen for several months.)


Barbecue Sauce with Mexican Flavors

A few ingredients added to the basic barbecue sauce give this recipe a south-of -the-border flavor.

Follow the recipe for Classic Barbecue Sauce, stirring 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder 6 tablespoons juice from 3 limes, and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves into the finished sauce.

Barbecue Sauce with Asian Flavors

Soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil give this tomato-based sauce an Asian flavor.

Follow the recipe for Classic Barbecue Sauce, stirring 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 6 tablespoons soy sauce, 6 tablespoons rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1-1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil into the finished sauce.

Barbecue Sauce with Caribbean Flavors

When you brush foods with this sauce, serve Black Bean and Mango Salsa on the side.

Follow the recipe for Classic Barbecue Sauce, stirring 2 tablespoons pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons dark rum, 1 tablespoon Caribbean hot sauce, 2 teaspoons sugar, and a pinch ground allspice into the finished sauce.


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