Smoky Barbecue Sauce

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This smoky barbecue sauce from Hank Shaw is one of the best bbq sauces I have ever tasted. Smoky, spicy, and rich in flavor. Seriously good. ~Elise

Yep, I’m back with another barbecue creation. This time it’s a dark, rich sauce loaded with smoky flavor. I designed this to go with red meat, preferably beef, venison or bison, but I bet it’d work with pork or poultry, too.

The two key ingredients in this sauce are chipotles in adobo and liquid smoke. Liquid smoke, which is essentially distilled smoke collected from moisture added while burning hickory – and it’s hickory smoke I use here — is available in most supermarkets.

Chipotles in adobo are easy to find in Latin markets, but if you cannot find them use chipotle powder instead. And if you can’t find chipotle powder, try using Spanish smoked paprika. If all else fails, use chili powder.

This sauce needs to be cooked slowly for at least 45 minutes, and 1 hour is better.

Use it on barbecued beef brisket, beef ribs, or on a burger.

Smoky Barbecue Sauce Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 cups.

When handling the hot chiles in adobo, use gloves, or a plastic bag to protect your hands. After handling chiles wash your hands thoroughly in hot soapy water. Do not touch your eyes for several hours.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter (can substitute vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 grated onion
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1-4 chipotle chiles in adobo (depending on how hot you want your bbq sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Heat the butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until if froths (or heat vegetable oil until hot), then add the grated onion. Sprinkle a little salt over the onion. Sauté until the onion just begins to color, about 4-5 minutes.

2 While the onions are cooking, finely chop the chipotle chiles in adobo. They are hot, so start with one chile. You can add as many more as you want later.

3 Add the chipotle to with the onions, then add the tomatoes, vinegar, molasses, sugar, liquid smoke, and chopped sage. Stir to combine and let this simmer for 5 minutes. Taste it and add salt and more chipotle if you want.

4 Simmer the sauce gently, uncovered, for 1 hour. Before serving, taste one more time for salt and chile.

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Showing 4 of 20 Comments

  • Sam

    Seriously delicious bbq sauce. We used 4 chipotles, and it wasn’t too spicy. Loved it!

  • Amanda

    I have a mild obsession with homemade BBQ sauce and will be adding this to my list of favorites! I only used one chipotle, as I will be using this recipe for kids and didn’t want it to be too spicy, but will definitely add more to the next batch, which I’ll be making soon!

  • Kailey

    I have been looking for a good smoky BBQ recipe for ages and finally stumbled upon yours.

    Made it tonight and it is perfect, made a few adjustments like adding garlic and only used paprika as my kids hate anything hot.

    I adapted the recipe for a “Thermomix”, and have posted my version of your recipe here with a link back to you. Hope that’s OK.

  • Cat

    This looks fantastic! Thanks! I’ve been using Liquid Smoke for decades and no health problems here!

  • Emiko

    Looks tasty! I tried the KC barbecue sauce and loved it. I have a bottle of liquid smoke that is feeling a bit neglected. Maybe it’s time to pull it out.

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