Make Your Own Barbecue Sauce This Summer




About: 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 after moving to Colorado that I got interested in the sciences, and in mu...

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!

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Step 1: 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

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.

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    50 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 2

    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!

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    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!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    9 years ago on Introduction

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


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply
    lone ranger

    11 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    8 replies
    kill-a-wattlone ranger

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    '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

    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.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    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


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

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