Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce

Please welcome Hank Shaw as he continues on his tour of barbecue sauce recipes with this Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce. ~Elise

Cooking with cola or root beer is common, so we figured why not cook with Dr. Pepper? Using soda as the base for a barbecue sauce does two things right off the bat: You get sugar and you get acid. You can literally make a glaze out of nothing more than soda. We went a little further with this recipe, making it a full-on BBQ sauce.

If you don’t like Dr. Pepper, you can substitute another dark soda; I’d recommend root beer. And you don’t technically need to put the sauce in the blender, but it does make a smoother sauce that goes on meats better.

What to use this sauce with? We first did it with slow-cooked pork country ribs, but you could also use it on regular ribs, pork shoulder, ham, beef ribs, or brisket. I bet it would be good on chicken, too, although we haven’t tried it.

You do need to cook this sauce down to get the full flavor, so give yourself some time. Once it’s done, you can store the sauce in the fridge for at least a week.

Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2-3 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Dr. Pepper
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes, about 15 ounces
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

2 When the onions are just beginning to brown, add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Simmer for 30 minutes.

3 Pour the sauce into a blender or food processor and purée it until it is smooth. (Note that if you are using a blender, either work in batches, filling the blender no more than a third of the way at a time with the hot sauce, or slowly add the sauce while the blender is running on low speed.)

4 Put the sauce into a saucepan, bring to a simmer and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 1-2 hours.

The sauce will store for several weeks in the fridge.

23 Comments

  1. Jan

    There is something in barbecue sauce that doesn’t thrill me but I’ve never been sure what. This, however sounds interesting. I think I will just give it a whirl. If the mystery taste is there I may have to just give in to the notion that maybe I just don’t like it, no matter how hard I try.

  2. Simply Recipes Fan

    Oh wow! My partner loves Dr Pepper so thank you. He has just been in hospital for the last four weeks. When he came home I greeted him with two cans of Dr Pepper, a very very rare find in New Zealand. I stumbled across it in a specialty food store. I bet this recipe isn’t on the hospital menu! He was quite excited when I showed him.

  3. TexasDeb

    Southerners have a long history of developing delicious recipes using soft drinks. Only yesterday I tried out an addictive recipe for apple dumplings that calls for a 12 ounce can of Mountain Dew.

    That said, many of us are concerned about the problems with HFCS currently used as the sweetener in most commercial soft drinks. Hank, do you think there’d be any downside to using the sugar sweetened variety of Dr. Pepper in this recipe?

    If not, the sugar-sweetened “Throwback” version of Dr. Pepper is out for a limited run but could be worth stockpiling if you have the storage space! And if you can’t find the throwback products locally, Dublin Dr. Peppers, always/only sweetened with cane sugar, are available online.

  4. Courtney

    Elise,

    Speaking of root beer.
    Twice I have used root beer to base my roasted turkey in. Plus the normal stuff, like onion, sage and whatever sounded good.

    A mixture of root beer and apple cider or rice vinegar is great marinade for chops, and chicken breast too!

  5. Walter Underwood

    Safety tip: be careful adding soda to a hot mixture, because it can fizz up powerfully.

    Either stir the Dr. Pepper until it is flat before adding it, or add the tomatoes and other ingredients first to cool off the mixture in the pan.

    I remember making cherry Jello with Coke (a River Roads Recipes idea) and that made a massive amount of foam, because the sugar held the bubbles. Yow.

  6. Karen

    I have made this sauce for a couple of years now.. found the recipe somewhere else. I use the cane sugar DP often; but it is sweet; cut back on the honey unless you like a real sweet b-b-que sauce. Of course, I’m right here in DP country, so it’s easy to get the cane sugar version.

  7. Melissa Jones

    this sauce is amazing!! we actually have had it on jalp. stuffed bacon wrapped shrimp!!! fantastic!!
    i thought for sure it was going to be awful, but I am glad I tried it!! just another idea…but be sure you grill them!

  8. Tom

    I have cooked pork roast(s) in a clay pot with Dr Pib (a cheap immitation). Works wonderful. I make a roux and take the drippings to make a sweet gravy. The pork gets soft and pulls apart from the acids in the soda. It’s awesome. People love it!

  9. thaispice

    This question is probably blasphemous (forgive me!), but can you use Diet Dr. Pepper or another type of diet soda in this recipe?

    Uh… I suppose. You are going for both sugar and flavor – sugar to caramelize when the sauce cooks – so I am not sure if whatever it is they are sweetening the diet stuff with these days will do the same thing. Give it a go and let us know! ~Hank

  10. Easy Pasta Recipes

    Cool idea, and the recipe looks quite tasty – the cider vinegar is a good touch and I’m definitely going to make some of this!

  11. Rachael

    Sounds yummy, but I am confused by the 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Is that really necessary?

    Yes. It is to add body to the sauce, and remember this recipe makes enough sauce for more than a dozen people. Use less if you want, though. ~Hank

  12. Jessica @ JustRightMenus

    You may want to put a warning in the instructions about how to properly blend hot liquids. I learned the hard way that the lid can blow off the blender, sending boiling-hot barbecue sauce all over the kitchen and all me (thus having burns to deal with, too). I now know you should blend small amounts at a time, use the lowest setting, and leave the center piece of the lid removed w/ a towel over the hole loosely, so air can still escape.

    Good point Jessica! I’ve made a note in the recipe. ~Elise

  13. Nate @ House of Annie

    You know, I actually saw some bottled Dr. Pepper and A&W barbecue sauce in the local Cold Storage grocery the other day. There was also a 7-Up citrus marinade. So I think the folks at Dr. Pepper and A&W saw how their drinks were being used and decided to capitalize on it.

    I bet this sauce would go great on beer can chicken.

  14. Morgan

    I was really excited to try this when I saw the recipe, but unfortunately it did not taste good to me.

    Maybe I don’t like Dr. Pepper, but I ended up throwing the whole batch away.

    Both my wife and I thought it tasted awful. We followed the recipe exactly (we even blended the sauce to an even consistency, but it didn’t help).

    It just tasted bad. Oh well, maybe next time. Thanks anyway Hank.

  15. Melissa

    This sounds delicious! Do you think it has enough acid/sugar content to preserve in a water bath?

    Doubtful. But it did keep for a month in the fridge. ~Hank

    • Joanna

      You probably could if you made a larger batch first. You can google canning bbq sauce and go from there, just sub this recipe in. :)

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.