Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Please welcome guest author Hank Shaw who shares the recipe for his favorite BBQ sauce with us. This sauce is, btw, outrageously good. ~Elise

All barbecue cooks have their own “secret sauce,” but for the most part, each relies on some sort of sugar, something acidic like vinegar, fat – typically butter – and something else to make it special. This sauce uses molasses, lemon juice, bourbon and Worcestershire sauce as its main flavors. It has that tart, sweet, salty, rich and spicy combination that I think all great barbecue sauces need. Use this with ribs, pulled pork or even tri-tip.

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes enough for 4-6 racks of ribs.

Note that most (not all) of the alcohol from the bourbon will boil away while the sauce reduces, leaving bourbon's distinctive caramel-flavored tang.

Yum

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as canola or peanut
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 chopped chile pepper, such as a serrano
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, grated
  • 1 cup bourbon or Tennessee whiskey
  • 1/2 cup ketchup or tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Heat the butter and oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.

2 Grate the onion through the coarse grate of a box grater, or finely mince the onion if you don't have a grater.

3 Add grated onion and chile to the oil/butter combination and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until onions turn translucent. You do not want the onions to turn color.

4 Take the pan off the heat and add the bourbon. Return to the stove, turn up the heat to medium-high again and boil down the bourbon for 5 minutes.

5 Add the ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, and the sugar. Mix well and return to a simmer.

6 Cook the sauce for a few minutes to combine the flavors and then taste test it. Is it salty enough? (It should be from the Worcestershire sauce). If not, add salt. Is it spicy hot enough? If not, add a little cayenne powder. Is it sweet enough? If not, add some molasses.

7 Let the sauce cook down slowly until it thickens, about 20 minutes. Keep it on low heat while your ribs cook. Alternatively, you can make this sauce ahead of time and reheat it when you cook the meat. It will stay good in the fridge at least a week; I've held mine for two weeks with no problem.

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Links:

Mango barbecue sauce from What's Cooking
Ginger barbecue sauce from Thyme for Cooking

Showing 4 of 27 Comments

  • JimK

    Alcohol boiling away is a bit of a myth. You have to cook things for *many* many hours to evaporate the booze. Even then, some can remain. Using the times in this recipe, 35 to 40% of the booze remains.

    That can be deadly to those with allergies. http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blalcohol12.htm

    Hi Jim, You’re right, not all of the alcohol will boil away. If you are allergic to alcohol, you should not use this recipe. ~Elise

  • Jesse Gardner

    This looks absolutely mouth-watering! Thanks for the great tip, Hank. I’ll pass it along to my tong-wielding father-in-law who loves to grill ribs!

  • Katie

    I can’t wait to try this sauce. We’ve been looking for a great homemade sauce recipe and this one looks like it could be a winner! Thanks Elise and Hank :)

  • Mrs. L

    This sounds like a great BBQ sauce, I’ll have to give it a try.

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