Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

I’m making homemade barbecue sauce to accompany a slow-cooked garlic pork roast for Memorial Day. Why make homemade barbecue sauce and not purchase it? Quite simply, I like the flavor of homemade barbecue sauce; it tastes better than most of the ones that you can purchase. It is so easy to make barbecue sauce, why not? Although the sauce is not named after the famous New Orleans street, “Bourbon Street,” but rather Bourbon whiskey which is an ingredient, it does remind of all the good food which we’ve eaten in that city..

I believe that a good barbecue sauce is one where all the flavors meld together so that you don’t really taste any one ingredient. It shouldn’t be too sweet or too “hot” but it does need some “zing.” My barbecue sauce includes bourbon which gives it a distinct flavor. The addition of a small amount of this liquor makes it quite different in flavor from other barbecue sauces. Serve the barbecue sauce with pulled pork, ribs or any type of chicken.

This barbecue sauce is very simple and easy to make. Best yet, is uses common ingredients on hand in my kitchen.  It is a ketchup-based recipe–so you need alot of this ingredient. The recipe doesn’t include anything exotic besides the bourbon.

A hint of sweetness comes from the brown sugar — but not too much. I included both Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce in the recipe.

The spices are onion powder (you could use onion salt if needed), garlic powder, black pepper and Dijon mustard (you could substitute dry mustard powder — but not yellow mustard). I like a hint of mustard flavor and suggest that you don’t skip it. The “zing” comes from adding just several drops of Tabasco sauce or just a few red pepper flakes. Use either one, but not both. And you don’t need much here or the “zing” will overpower the sauce.

Add all the ingredients to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then reduce to heat to very, very low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. It’s done.

What if you don’t like bourbon or have any in your pantry? It’s really not worth it to go the the store since the recipe only uses 1/4 cup. (However, you may find other uses for this ingredient– and bourbon will keep for several years.)  I suggest substituting 1/2 cup of apple juice or pineapple juice (drain the juice from a can of pineapple tidbits). Either of these adds a nice, fruity flavor.

This sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated; it can be doubled and it uses common ingredients. Nothing to cut up or chop up. So simple, you don’t have to spend alot of time cooking. Enjoy the day!

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  • Servings: 1-1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 drops of Tabasco sauce or tiny dash of red pepper flakes

Method and Steps:

  1. Combine all ingredients in heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Reduce heat on stove to very low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove from stove and serve with entree such as pulled pork or baked chicken
  5. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

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