Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce | jessicagavin.comWhat barbecue sauce do you use? At our house the refrigerator is typically stocked with Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce. I typically like a thicker, sweet and tangy sauce, however I’ve been building up my hot spice tolerance (I hope that doesn’t make me go into labor!). Jason recently made some nice upgrades to our Weber barbecue grill just in time for the summer, so I’ve been grilling as much as a can.

I’ve always wanted to experiment with my own homemade barbecue sauce and I didn’t realize how easy it was! It’s really fun to play around with the balance of sweetness, acidity, thickness and spice levels. I created this sweet and spicy barbecue sauce so we can pour, slather and dip it on all of our grilled meats, drool.

Dipping Tri-Tip into Barbecue Sauce | jessicagavin.comA good barbecue sauce typically contains a tomato base, acid, sweetness, and spice. Depending on the style you like, you can make adjustments as you go. I tried to shoot for a Western South Carolina style sauce which is rich, sweet and tangy, and infused some hotter elements to give the sauce a little lingering kick! I used ketchup as my tomato base because it gives a nice thick consistency.

To give the sauce a nice “tang” I used apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and spicy brown mustard. Dark brown sugar and apricot preserves added just the right amount of sweetness to the sauce. The molasses from the brown sugar also gives a nice rich flavor too. Now for the heat! I added fresh chopped jalapenos and cayenne pepper that gives a nice lingering kick, but does not make you break a sweat, unless you like it that way, just add more of the hot stuff!

We have already used the barbecue sauce to top our tri-tip sandwiches and grilled New York steak, now I just have to find more excuses to use the sauce! This barbecue sauce is also a great tasty Father’s Day gift for those awesome dad’s out there! Make sure to use a clean canning jar to store the sauce and have fun making your own personalized tags and packaging. Just remember to keep the barbecue sauce refrigerated. I hope to learn canning techniques soon so I can extend the shelf life of the BBQ sauce for longer enjoyment!

TIP: I recommend as you are cooking down the sauce to taste every 10 minutes to see how your sauce changes as the acids cook off and sauce thickens. I noticed as you continue gently simmering the sauce, this helps to cook off some of the strong pungency from the acids. Acids like vinegar and lemon juice are very volatile (evaporates with high heat) and aromatic (your kitchen will smell like the acid you use). This a good thing because as the sauce reduces, acids are natural flavor enhancers, so you retain the tangy flavor, but the sauce won’t smell like a bottle of vinegar each time you open it. A sweetener like sugar, honey, jams or preserves really help to balance and bring richness to the sauce, and it helps reduce bitterness. If you can be patient, the barbeque sauce will actually taste better the next day because all of the flavors have time to infuse together.
Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Serves: 1¾ cup
Every good barbeque needs a homemade sauce! Enjoy this easy sweet and spicy barbeque sauce on your favorite grilled meats.
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeños
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened for 5 minutes. Stir in minced jalapeños and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn heat down to medium low.
  2. Stir in vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, sugar, paprika, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer, and stir in ketchup and apricot preserves. Cook over low heat until thickened and acidity of the sauce has reduced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  3. Strain the barbecue sauce through a fine mesh strainer. Allow to cool to room temperature, and then serve with your favorite meat. Transfer to an airtight container or jar if not using immediately, for up to 4 days and keep refrigerated.


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