Homemade BBQ Sauce Basics

Fans of tomato-based barbecue sauce know that there is a plethora of different flavors and varieties available. Whether your tastes tend toward spicy or sweet, theres a BBQ sauce for you. Although the marketplace for these sauces is huge, consider adding a homemade barbecue sauce to your repertoire of favorite BBQ sauces.

Whipping up a homemade BBQ sauce is very easy. It takes little time and for the most part, the ingredients are pantry staples. Best of all, making your own homemade barbecue sauce allows you to tailor the taste to be exactly what you like.

Most homemade BBQ sauces start with ketchup as a base. To this you add your favorite spices, seasonings and other liquids to get just that taste you are looking.

For a tangy BBQ Sauce, use equal parts ketchup and vinegar (either white or apple cider). For a thicker sauce that can be made either sweet or spicy, start with ketchup and add a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce. For all of the above types, stir in some brown sugar and the spices and/or seasonings of your choice. You can also add some honey or molasses if those flavors appeal to you in a barbecue sauce.

The usual spices and seasonings to add in any amount desired to the tomato-vinegar-brown sugar or tomato-Worchestershire-brown sugar mixture include:

  • Salt
  • White or black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Allspice
  • Cayenne pepper

Play around with the amounts and which types of spices to use until you hit on the combination thats just right for you. As you experiment, add just a little bit of each spice at a time. Remember, you can always add more but you cant take out.

If youre not experimenting with the spices on your own, there are several pre-mixed spice combinations available on the market that can be added in desired amounts to create your homemade barbecue sauce.

Stir all of the barbecue sauce ingredients together until smooth and refrigerate until using. Its always a good idea to make the sauce ahead of time so that it has time to sit to allow the flavors to develop and mix together.

This method will create a very basic but still very flavorful BBQ sauce that is perfect for any type of BBQ preparation you can think of.


If you want an exact recipe to help you out with the experimentation, heres a winner.

  • 1 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Stir everything together in a small bowl until well blended. Refrigerate until needed.

Brief History of Brisket

Perhaps the most well-loved BBQ meat in Texas and beyond, brisket has an interesting past. In its earliest form, and in a method still carried on today, brisket was coated with large salt crystals and allowed to age in a cool place for about 4 days, creating what is better known today as corned beef. The process was laborious but for our Colonial ancestors, it was the best way to preserve meat. And obviously that taste must have been remarkable since we are still eating it today.


Since then, weve come to appreciate brisket as more than just corned beef. This cut of meat, which was once considered one of the poorest cuts of meat you could get from a butcher, is transformed into something both beautiful and magical when cooked low and slow. This is the traditional method of most BBQ connoisseurs, especially those in Texas who have raised the practice of smoking brisket to an art form. The long cooking/smoking time results in a tender and flavorful piece of meat. That flavor is upped a thousand-fold when the meat is coated in a spicy dry rub which not only helps to seal in the juices but also imparts an out-of-this-world flavor the each slice of BBQ Brisket.

If youve tried brisket in the past and been left wanting, dont give up. The good stuff is out there for the taking!

How to slice BBQ Brisket

How To Slice BBQ Brisket

Youve prepared a dry rub and coated your brisket. Its smoked for several hours. Now, this fragrant and beautiful piece of meat is sitting on your counter. The smell is heavenly and you cant wait to dig in. But waitbefore you start chowing down, there are a few tips you should know for how to properly slice a BBQ Brisket.

The first and most important thing to remember when slicing BBQ brisket is that you should slice against the grain. When you look at your cooked piece of brisket, youll notice striations running from one end to the other. That is the grain and although it might appear to be the logical way to slice your brisket, dont do it! Slicing the beef with the grain will result in chewy, non-tender slices. Instead, you want to slice perpendicular across the grain.

If your brisket is a flat and point cut, the first thing you want to do is separate the two. If you look closely at the beef, youll see a large vein of fat; you want to cut through there to separate the point from the flat. The flat section is where youll slice from. Turn the beef so that you can easily slice against the grain as mentioned above. Slice the meat on a bias cut (aka angled) into about 1/4 thickness. If the meat is falling apart at this size, cut the slices a little thicker. Similarly, if the meat seems too tough, make your slices thinner. After you have sliced the flat, you can either slice the meat from the point or chop or shred it for sandwiches or to make burnt ends.

If you are a visual learner, heres a video tutorial to help you.

BBQ For Picky Kids

Kids are notoriously picky eaters. Typically, kids that are picky eaters grow up to be picky eaters as adults. One way to combat this problem is to introduce young palettes to a variety of different flavors and preparations. To keep them from resisting something new, make it a fun process. Barbecue is definitely suited for upping the fun factor while introducing new flavors.

BBQ is messy. Kids love to get messy. Perfect combination! Dish up a heaping plate of barbecue and challenge you child to get as messy as possible while eating. You’ll be surprised how quickly they dig in when given permission to get messy. The only challenge will be for you, the parent, to stand back and let the mess happen without itching to wipe hands and face constantly. The best way to combat this is to be prepared with lots of napkins and wet naps. After the child is thoroughly covered in sticky messiness, hand the cleaning supplies over and let him or her get cleaned up. Finger licking should be encouraged first though.


One tip to keep in mind when introducing a child to barbecue is that their taste buds are immature and more sensitive than an adult’s. It might help if you tame the sauce you use. For a Carolina style BBQ, you may want to consider reducing the vinegar or cutting it with something sweet. Additionally, for other BBQ preparations, it may be a smart idea to scale back the heat or spiciness. Gradually increase those things to effortlessly get to the flavor and heat the whole family enjoys.

If you want to introduce a new meat to your child and you know that he or she already likes barbecue sauce, serve that new meat barbecue style. If BBQ is already a favorite flavor in your house, this method should work like a charm.

The complexity of flavors in BBQ definitely expands the taste buds. If you are successful in getting your child to try and enjoy barbecue, you may find that he or she is more open to other new flavors since many of them will already be familiar as a result of the barbecue experience. Or at the very least, you can keep a bottle of BBQ sauce on hand at all times and use it to mask those new foods that your child has no interest in trying.

Red Hot BBQ Potatoes

There are so many great classic side dishes to serve with barbecue. Deciding which ones to make can be a struggle. So how about a completely new idea that will add a kick to your next BBQ? This recipe for BBQ Red Hot Potatoes is sure to win you raves. Its a unique potato dish because the potatoes take on an awesome red color and the flavor will definitely complement your favorite barbecue dish.

The other great thing about this barbecue side dish is that it can be made any time. So if youre craving that barbecue flavor, you can whip this dish up in about an hour.



  • 2 lbs. Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 T. bacon drippings or melted butter
  • 1 T. red hot pepper sauce (ie. Franks)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. black pepper


1. In a large stock pot, stir all of the ingredients together. Add water, just enough to cover the potatoes. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes.

2. Remove from heat and let sit about 30 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes have taken on a nice read color.

3. Return the burner to medium-low heat and cook the potatoes just until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

This would also make a great dish to take to a pot luck party or picnic. If desired, you can transfer the fully cooked potatoes to a crock pot to keep them warm over low heat. Just be careful that they dont burn.

You could also boost the flavor of the potatoes by stirring in a little cooked and crumbled bacon and/or sliced green onions just before serving. Or feel free to add any of your own stir-in ideas. The potatoes are perfect for tweaking to your desired tastes.

Brining your BBQ

Brining is a great method when you want to switch up your barbecuing habits a bit from the norm. If variety truly is the spice of life then adding variety to your barbecue routine takes that spiciness to a whole new level. Brining is especially useful for mixing up your BBQ plans because its most suited for use with poultry or pork or other lean meats that have a tendency to try out on the grill. So if your usual barbecue routine revolves around a beef brisket or beef ribs, have some fun trying something new. Brined foods can be grilled or smoked, so use your favorite traditional method.

A brine is a salty solution that helps meat retain its moisture when grilled, keeping it juicy and tender. A typical brine is a saltwater solution that may contain additional herbs, spices and/or seasonings. The meat soaks, completely covered, in the mixture for about 6 to 12 hours, or up to 24. The meat soaks up that moisture and flavor and does not dry on the grill.

For the science behind the process of brining, lets take a look at how it is described on Wikipedia.

Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis.The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating.

A basic brine can be easily assembled by combining 1 cup of sea salt (or table salt works too, in a pinch) with 1 gallon of water. Use can test a brines effectiveness with a raw egg if the brine has enough salt, the egg will float.