Introduction: Make Your Own Barbecue Sauce This Summer

Picture of Make Your Own Barbecue Sauce This Summer

Summer will be upon is before too long, and we all know what that means: barbecue season! I would like to make a proposal, though. Instead of buying expensive barbecue sauces, or making do with the cheap stuff at the dollar store, why not try making your own? Here's my own special recipe which came about as a result of modification from a variety of recipes found on the web, plus some good old experimentation.

Ingredients (for about 2 cups finished sauce):

2 cups tomato ketchup
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot (could be optional: more on this in Step 2)
1/2 cup bourbon whiskey (anything decent will do, it need not be expensive)
1/4 cup honey (or molasses, more on that in Step 2)
2 Tbsp (equals 1/8 cup) soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Tools and equipment:

Sauce pot (I have a saucier-like device from my Wolfgang Puck set of stainless steel pots)
Silicone spatula (my favorite sauce-making tool)
Splatter guard (indispensable for sauce making)

Let's cook!

Step 1: Ketchup Is Thicker Than Water

Picture of Ketchup Is Thicker Than Water

First, we have to gather our ingredients together. This is probably the most difficult part of this recipe.

This is also a fine place for a debate about ketchup-based barbecue sauces. You see, I actually never liked the ketchup-based sauces, until I decided to try this one. I even have my own special recipe for a non-ketchup-based barbecue sauce, but that's another Instructable. My point is, don't dismiss this recipe out of hand just because of its base ingredient. Like me, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Anyway, collect all of the ingredients together, then throw them all into your sauce pot, stir together, and bring to a simmer. It really is that simple. When it's reduced to about two cups (somewhere around 2/3rds to 1/2 the original volume), it's done, and ready to cool down for storage.

Step 2: Further Notes on Ingredients

Picture of Further Notes on Ingredients

Sorry I can't come up with an amusing title for this step.

Many people might think this sauce is too hot due to the amount of Frank's in it. That's okay. I can make some suggestions for adaptations, with the caveat that I have not tried any of these (except for item 3), so further experimentation is up to you.

1) Replace the Frank's Red Hot with half of it's amount (1/4 cup in this case) of a decent white wine vinegar. You see, the Frank's isn't there just for the kick. Its vinegar component is an important aspect of the final sauce's flavor.

2) For a sweeter, stickier sauce, increase the amount of honey, up to double if you'd like.

3) For something quite interesting, replace the honey with molasses. This is something I actually have done, and it works very well.

In fact, if I wanted to make a nice, sticky-sweet version of this sauce, I would double the amount of honey (or perhaps go half-honey, half-molasses) and then replace the Franks with 1/4 cup of vinegar as I outline above. I'm going to try that for my next batch.


Illustrisimus (author)2011-06-16

Hi, i am from México and i don't know what is the Frank's Red Hot, can you tell me please where can i found it? or what is the better element for replace.thanx a lot man!

miketyra77 (author)Illustrisimus2012-07-22

try using tobasco or a little habenero

dmlandrum (author)Illustrisimus2011-06-16

It's a vinegar-based hot chili pepper sauce. Unfortunately, I don't know of an equivalent in Mexico. Here in the States, there is another brand called Tepatio (I hope I'm spelling that right - I don't have a bottle handy) that would work well enough. I think that might be available to you, but I'm not sure. I hope that helps!

brrman (author)2011-07-20

I made the mollasses variant of this sauce the other day. The only difference was I added a squeeze of "Jamaica Me Sweet Hot & Crazy" sauce for an extra kick.

The sauce was great!! Better than Sweet Baby Rays I ran out of.

seudafed (author)2011-07-01

A bit of Dave's Insanity Sauce drives up the heat nicely

Kogitsune (author)2011-04-05

I find I like using molasses in place of the honey - honey just has a strange funk to it regardless of brand for me. Although, you'd have to like the taste of molasses for it to be a proper substitute.

davec13 (author)Kogitsune2011-06-03

Molasses is definitely a different kind of sweet. I think this is a great framework for a bbq sauce though. I know when I make my sauce I use apple juice instead of orange juice. I also always add a touch of Worcestershire, mustard, and at least onion powder if i'm to lazy to dice and saute real onions.

sheldon78 (author)2011-04-01

You know this is actually a pretty good idea:D

Rahere (author)2010-06-14

If you want greater kick, go Carribean with a Scotch Bonnet sauce, or North African with a Pili-Pili sauce.

dmlandrum (author)2010-06-07

I have to admit that I'm completely overwhelmed at my two-year-old Instructible suddenly getting so much attention. Thank you all for your comments. Lately, I've been doctoring cheap store-bought barbecue sauces, and will have to post a new Instructable on that, I guess.

arthur.nudge (author)dmlandrum2010-06-12

It popped up on the Make blog, that's why it's getting so many hits all of a sudden.

lone ranger (author)2008-03-11

Thanks for the recipe but 'Frank's Red Hot' is not available in the UK. You suggest white wine vinegar but this is totally kickless. Can you liven it up with, say, a little Chinese Chilli Sauce? If so, then how much - remembering that this stuff can blow your socks off!

kill-a-watt (author)lone ranger2008-03-24

'Frank's Red Hot' is a vinegar-based hot pepper sauce. It is quite a bit less spicy than say Tabasco sauce (probably available world wide) You could probably dilute down spicier hot sauce with a vinegar

arthur.nudge (author)kill-a-watt2010-06-12

Cider vinegar and some cayenne pepper would work pretty well as well, I think. There's no one perfect bbq sauce, and I think the instructable does a nice idea of laying out a framework in which to experiment. For my tastes, I'd dial down the honey in favor of molasses and add a few drops of liquid smoke.

Bartboy (author)kill-a-watt2008-05-16

tabasco is VERY weak, my cousin drank 1 cup of it... his vice principal dared him to!

Bazzatron (author)Bartboy2009-05-12

theres three versions of tobasco now - mild to "extreme" i have quite a high tolerance so i sympathise that the regular stuff isnt tht potent, but i am yet to try the extreme. theres this other sauce my parent got hold of (UK) called "holy cow" they have a range of sauces - serious kick, completely useless (garlic one) as a dipping sauce - but in cooking, excellent

JimBeaux (author)Bazzatron2010-06-04

Tobasco also has a habernero hot sauce. Nice and spicy.

Bartboy (author)Bazzatron2009-05-16

Well, tabasco is about 2000 scoville units. Da Bomb is 500000

Bazzatron (author)Bartboy2009-05-16

Holy hell! You serious?! Didnt kno there was an actual measurment for how hot stuff is?? Is there a tool to measure this?

pdub77 (author)Bazzatron2010-05-30

kingbirdy (author)kill-a-watt2010-04-04

franks's is much hotter than tabasco. like bartboy said, it's drinkable. I have no use for the stuff at all, it just kinda ruins food for me.

Ward_Nox (author)lone ranger2010-06-06

you get tobasco sauce though right? really any kinda hot sauce will work and the fun part of making your own BBQ sauce is getting to tweek it

rpb (author)lone ranger2010-06-01

I'd never heard of it before either, but I tried the Buffalo Wings recipe here on Instructables a month ago, and that recipe needs Franks Original, too.  I found it at Sainsbury's in Kingston upon Thames, and I bet it's available in larger Sainsbury'ses nationwide.

Phoghat (author)lone ranger2010-05-31

Is Tobasco sauce available? It's approximately the same.

lone ranger (author)Phoghat2010-05-31

Yes, Tobasco readily available in UK. I will substitute this. Thanks.

dmlandrum (author)lone ranger2008-03-11

I'm afraid I have no reference on just how hot the Chinese chili sauce is, so I'm afraid the only answer I can give is to start conservatively and experiment until you find a satisfactory heat level. This sauce as I make it is definitely not "blow your socks off" hot, really it's just enough to give pleasant kick without much lingering effect, if that makes sense. Sorry I can't give a better answer. The recipe halves quite easily, so you can experiment and potentially waste less of your ingredients. Keep in mind, though, that the sour "punch" of the vinegar is still important to the overall sauce, and I would still use that as one of the ingredients.

lone ranger (author)dmlandrum2008-03-13

Thanks for the advice. All we need now is for the weather to allow us to have a barbecue.

dmlandrum (author)lone ranger2010-05-30

The weather control system will be coming in a future Instructable. ;)

JimBeaux (author)2010-06-04

Nearly all of the major brand barbecue sauces use high fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient. If you're wanting to purge HFCS from your diet, make this recipe yourself, BUT - use Hunts ketchup that is now made with cane sugar, or use the "all natural" Heinz. Regular ketchup also uses HFCS. Always read the label!

Ward_Nox (author)JimBeaux2010-06-06

if HFCS bothers you that much the 100% organic Huntz ketchup is HFCS free

killerjackalope (author)2008-03-11

The strange and perverse sauce experiment... Nice instructable, short and to the point, then again chuck 'em in a bowl and simmer...

When I started this Instructable, I really thought it was going to be longer than it turned out. It just didn't need more, and it could have been a sub-step in another, larger Instructable. I didn't want to do that, though, as a sauce like this has myriad uses and can stand on its own. I have another two barbecue sauce recipes to post yet. One concerns doctoring up a bottle of the cheap, thin barbecue sauce as found at any grocer, and the other is a non-ketchup-based scratch sauce using Dr. Pepper as a primary ingredient. The latter involves more steps and tools. ;)

Void Schism (author)dmlandrum2010-06-01

Dr. Pepper sauce?! Now thats the kind of madness I want with my burger! Good instructable

Cool, because my family don't have much bbq saucable foods I tend to be lazy and use the HP jack daniels one, it's nice and thick... I wonder if BBQ relish would work, like relish but BBQ flavour...

Shadow13! (author)2010-05-31

If you want some hot sauce with some real kick look for hot sauce made with Ghost Peppers. The rate from 855,000 to 1,050,000 on the scoville scale. This is the hottest growing pepper.

tubanator-2.0 (author)Shadow13!2010-05-31

lol thats ridiculous i will have to buy some and sneak into a friends food...also im not sure those would be legal in california probably as scared of these as guns...toy guns aswell

ExpatCucina (author)2010-05-31

This is really useful. I live in China where all imported products are really over priced. I'll try your recipe this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

techne (author)2010-05-30

 orange juice! never tried orange juice.  Sound interesting.  But I don't think ketchup has enough vinegar or Worcestershire sauce plus, of course, the horseradish.  I think I prefer that combo to Frank's (and me from NOLA - I'm betraying my roots).  And what's the difference between DIY and a plain old recipe? Like 'upcycle' vs. recycle.

froyus81 (author)2010-05-30

I have been making sauce like this with my mom since I was a kid. It really is fun to do and its quality time that can be spent with your kid to give em a chance to help out with dinner. Little kids love cooking lol. Thanks for putting this up Dmlandrum you got a couple things in yours I would like to try like the Bourbon and the Red Hot. I have used a bit of Dark Rum to nice effect but I cant get away with the Franks as no one in the house is tolerant to spice heat at all. I can though get away with some spicy brown mustard added to give a little something to it. Have fun experimenting everyone and thanks again.

yaha (author)2010-05-30


Archergal52 (author)2010-05-30

For some reason, I really liked the pictures of the ingredients the way you did them.

My husband is a barbeque maniac.  I'm going to try some of this with him.


hogey74 (author)2010-05-30

 The dissemination of BBQ sauce recipes is surely the reason the internet was invented.  That and porn.  And lost episodes.

i wanna do that (author)2009-06-04

why does orange juice have to be frozen add i finally know why may BBQ sauce aint been to good becuase i should bring it to simmer so thanks for the tips

You can use 1 1/2 cups of regular orange juice but it will take longer for the water to simmer out. That's really the only reason I use the frozen concentrated stuff.

loppy96 (author)dmlandrum2009-07-29

does the alchol simmer out im 13 and would like to make this but want to be drunk

Gamernotnerd (author)loppy962009-08-24

Yes, yes it does.

hogey74 (author)Gamernotnerd2010-05-30

 then grease me up woman!  (my appologies if you dont get that)

Mark_in_Hollywood (author)2008-03-12

It needs horseradish.

Hmmmm... Subtract the Frank's, add vinegar plus fresh horseradish. That has possibilities!

sideways (author)2008-03-12

But I *like* dollar store sauce! This gives me some ideas for doctoring it, though. It's a bit on the thin side.

About This Instructable




Bio: I was born in 1976 in the town of Atascadero, California, which translates to "mud hole." It's an apt description, believe me. It was ... More »
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