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Rocky Mountain Homemade Barbecue Sauce

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A delicious and simple homemade barbecue sauce with a surprise ingredient; slightly sweet, definitely smoky and tangy, with a little bit of spice — ready in about 15 minutes and 10 of that is for simmering! Slather on chicken, ribs, brisket, and pork!

This rich, creamy sweet, buttery, smokey tangy homemade bbq sauce is the best! I love it when a sauce is so easy to whip up!

If you love making other store bought items at home, try this delicious Carrabba’s Grill Seasoning and Rub or this Passion Tea Lemonade Concentrate!

White bowl with barbecue sauce inside, and a wooden handled basting brush with boar bristles with barbecue sauce on a cutting board.

This recipe is on the blog, because my son went to our friends house a few weeks ago for dinner; they love smoking meat, oh it’s soo delicious; he came home asking me to get Miss Jackie’s barbecue sauce recipe, so here you have it!

She told me it’s an old recipe from the Colorado Cache Junior League Cookbook (you know those are the best cookbooks!)

Typically, I am all about a good marinade, like this Copycat Chipotle Chicken that is on our menu weekly, or this delicious marinated flank steak or Asian Pork Tenderloin — but sometimes I kind of forget about dinner and realize I need to whip something together quickly.

Glass jar of homemade barbecue sauce with sealable lid on wooden surface with dishcloth in background.

Cue homemade barbecue sauce, certainly better than bottled and it’s ready in less than 20 minutes, most of that time in hands-off while it simmers!

While it is simmering, I prep my chicken, make a side salad (this Asian Noodle salad is one of our faves) and maybe some carrots or corn on the cob and it’s dinnertime!

homemade barbecue sauce ingredients with text overlay over each ingredient.

Ingredients

  • Ketchup (catsup) | Ketchup and catsup are simply two different spellings for the same thing: a modern, Westernized version of a condiment that European traders were introduced to while visiting the Far East in the late 17th century. What exactly that condiment was, and where they found it, is a matter of a much wider debate. Read more about it here (Source).
  • H20 | otherwise known as water
  • Brown Sugar | Light or dark, your choice, darker will give it a bit more of a molasses hint, but either is fine, it’s not overly sweet. I typically try and use organic.
  • Liquid Smoke | If you haven’t cooked with liquid smoke before you are missing out! I use it in my pulled pork amongst other dishes, it infuses an all natural smoky flavor. I used hickory, but mesquite would be delicious too! You can typically find it near the barbecue sauces in the grocery store.
  • Worcestershire Sauce | The sauce most of us mis-pronounce! Regular versions contain: Vinegars, fermented onions, fermented garlic, molasses, tamarind paste, salt, sugar and cured anchovies. And a seasoning mixture that can include spices like coriander, mustard seed, cloves, or pepper, as well as citrus peel. (source) that’s a lot going on and if you aren’t using it you should be! Try it on burgers, salmon, steak, chicken, chili, pasta, baked beans and salads! Lea & Perrins happens to be Gluten-Free!
  • Dry (Ground) Mustard | Can you substitute with regular mustard? Yes! Replace each teaspoon of ground (dry) mustard called for with one tablespoon of prepared mustard.
  • Celery Seeds or Celery Salt | Yes! The original recipe uses celery seeds, but for some reason I never have them on hand, but I do have celery salt and they swap perfectly in this recipe. Personally, I like the celery salt as the seeds are ground and the salt amount is minimal.
  • Cayenne Pepper | You don’t need much, but even for spice wimps like me, cayenne pepper adds just enough heat to make this lightly spicy!
  • BUTTER | The secret ingredient to this amazing, smooth and delicious BBQ sauce! Remember my motto: if it’s soft coming out of the fridge, it ain’t real butter! Real butter is pure cream, and will always come out of the fridge hard — use unsalted or salted butter, I used salted and didn’t add any additional.

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

Sooo simple, in fact it will take you longer to gather and measure your ingredients than it will to make the sauce! Simply measure and pour all ingredients into a small saucepan over medium to low-medium heat, stir until butter is melted and bring to low simmer; cook for 10-15 minutes on simmer.

  • Heavy-bottomed Saucepan | This one by All-Clad is fabulous, but a bit pricey, but this one from Cooks-Standard comes in at a fraction of the price with great reviews.
  • Wire Whisk | My favorite, reliable whisk! Or this silicone whisk for non-stick pans!
  • Mini Liquid Measuring Cup | I use these mini measuring cups ALL-THE-TIME! I have two of them, because often in a recipe like this, you will need it! Perfect for measuring the liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Measuring Spoons | A two sided, magnetic, nesting measuring spoon set. The narrow side easily slips into spice jars; whereas the other side can be used for just about anything! And did I mention they are magnetic and have the coveted ½ tablespoon as well!
  • Storage Jar | Be still my glass and jar loving heart, yes I’m a hoarder when it comes to jars, I love them and the prettier the better! My favorite inexpensive jar is 16 oz Ball Wide Mouth jar and my favorite beautiful gifting jars, Weck jars are the best! Try this classic ½ liter jar or these squatty tulip jars. Stop me please!
Stainless pot with silicone wire whisk with homemade BBQ sauce.

Substitution & Additions

While I do believe this sauce is perfect, I realize you may not have or even want to use all of these ingredients. So here are some ideas to augment or substitute your BBQ sauce.

  • Swap out molasses for the brown sugar or add 3-4 tablespoons molasses depending on how sweet you’d like it.
  • For a Wyoming or Montana Rocky Mountain style sauce, try adding ¼ cup Huckleberry Preserves (or blackberry, strawberry, etc)
  • Honey Barbecue Sauce | Swap the brown sugar for honey (or try real maple syrup!)
  • Spicier? Add double the amount of Cayenne pepper, or even try adding an additional 1 teaspoon of Chipotle Chili Powder (fabulous in this Chipotle Grilled Chicken marinade I might add) or 1 teaspoon of Smokey Paprika.
  • Love garlic? Add 2-3 cloves of minced garlic or 1 teaspoon ground garlic or Dorot frozen garlic, you are missing out if you haven’t tried these! Use 2-3 squares which are equal to 1 clove each. Love these, I get in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s.
small clay crock bowl with barbecue sauce and basting brush with wood handle in background.

How to Use this Easy BBQ Sauce

Rocky Mountain Homemade Barbecue Sauce can be used on just about any protein! You can baste it, dip it, drench it, slather it, dunk it, pour it! It’s especially delicious on pulled pork and or chicken, or any grilled meats. How will you use it? Some of our favorites are below:

  • BEEF | My very favorite is Oven Baked Barbecue Beef Brisket, but also try on slow cooked beef ribs, swap out the sauce in Sloppy Joes, pour over meatloaf, and on burgers!
  • CHICKEN | Slather on grilled chicken for a quick an easy last minute meal, pulled chicken, baked chicken, chicken fingers, wings, chicken kebabs, chicken pizza and more!
  • PORK | Pulled pork, grilled or slow cooked pork loin or roast, pork ribs, ham, baked beans, carnitas, pork chops.
  • FISH | Baste on salmon at the tail end (get it) of cooking or broiling for a tangy and sweet sauce. I would also try on sturdy white fish like Halibut and Cod.
Glass sealable jar open with rustic spoon on top with scoop of barbecue sauce and jar full of sauce. Red & White checkered napkin in background.

More Sauces to Try:

  1. Garlic Yogurt Sauce delicious on any Mediterranean food like this chicken shawarma.
  2. Avocado Lime Sauce that is perfect on Barbacoa Beef Street Tacos, but also as a light salad dressing.
  3. And on the sweet side, try my Rich & Chewy Hot Fudge or Creamy Bourbon Vanilla Caramel sauce.
  4. A super simple homemade Teriyaki Sauce & Marinade! So many uses!
  5. Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauce

This BBQ sauce is naturally gluten-free, but there are a few things to double check!

  • Make sure your Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free, Lee & Perrins is GF.
  • Double check your liquid smoke, most are gluten-free
  • Check your spices, if you are using any blends, there could be gluten in them.

How to Store and Freeze BBQ Sauce

Allowing barbecue sauce to cool completely, pour into tightly sealing mason jar or similar (see above for recommendations). Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

To freeze Barbecue Sauce, allow to cool completely, then place in freezer friendly storage container, freezing up to 3 months. Allow to defrost overnight in fridge or on counter for a couple of hours.

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