Bourbon Barbecue Sauce


“Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

– The three witches in Macbeth

When I make homemade barbecue sauce, I recall those famous words from Shakespeare’s Macbeth spoken by the three witches. In a dark cavern, they lurk around a boiling cauldron, concocting something crazy with ingredients like dragon’s scales and liver of blaspheming Jew. Um, what the heck? I did not notice that part when we performed this scene in high school drama.

Making homemade barbecue sauce is like brewing a magical potion, minus the anti-Semitism. Add a pinch of this spice, a little of that seasoning, taste it, and add more. After making several iterations, I think this is my new standard for barbecue. Mostly because it has a balance of smoky, spicy, and sweet. Plus, there is bourbon.

I actually recommend doubling this batch. It stores well in the refrigerator, and is so perfect for ribs, pulled pork, and my son’s favorite meal, chicken nuggets. Everyone seems to have different preferences when it comes to barbecue sauce, so go ahead and make it to your own liking.

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

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1 cup ketchup
1 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, wine vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke and butter. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20-40 minutes. For thicker sauce, simmer longer, and for thinner, less time is needed. Sauce can also be thinned using a bit of water if necessary. Makes about 3 cups of sauce.

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