I can’t wait to share my spicy chipotle apple BBQ sauce with you. It pairs really well with pork, chicken, or burgers. This easy fruit-based barbecue sauce is loaded with flavor – from both apple cider and apple cider vinegar for a bit of tanginess. Making your own homemade BBQ sauce is so much better than anything you’ll find at the store.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Sweet and smoky apple BBQ sauce recipe
This BBQ sauce recipe is everything you want in a thick, sweet and smoky sauce. It pairs really well with chicken or pork. Try it on grilled chicken, wings or pulled pork.
This sauce gets a bit of heat from the chipotle chili powder. You can make it less spicy, or spicier, to suit your palette. I’ll tell you more about that below.
This quick and easy apple BBQ sauce recipe uses common pantry ingredients. It comes together in about 30 minutes, making it great for weeknights or busy weekends.
Using ketchup as the base instead of starting with tomato sauce gives us a head start on building flavor, because ketchup is already seasoned.
- Ketchup – Gives it sweetness and the familiar BBQ sauce taste.
- Apple cider – Darker, unfiltered and better flavor. A good substitute is apple juice if cider is out of season.
- Brown sugar – A deeper flavor than white sugar thanks to molasses.
- Black pepper – Regular black pepper, nothing fancy.
- Garlic powder – We’re keeping it quick and easy with pantry staples.
- Onion powder – Same as above.
- Chipotle chili powder – Substitute regular chili powder or ancho chili powder for less heat.
- Kosher salt – I use Diamond Crystal. If you use Morton, cut the amount by almost half.
- Apple cider vinegar – Fruity vinegar gives the BBQ sauce a nice flavor.
How to make apple BBQ sauce
This easy homemade BBQ sauce recipe comes together in 30 minutes – just stir it all together and let it simmer until thickened.
I’ve given a list of ingredients and what they bring to the party. There are also a few helpful tips on substitutions, if needed.
Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
Stir frequently to avoid scorching. If you prefer a very thick sauce, let it simmer an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
However, keep in mind that it will thicken slightly as it cools. You can see how much the apple barbecue sauce has reduced in 30 minutes!
Here are a few helpful tips and answers to frequently asked questions.
Yes! You can freeze it for up to 6 months.
If stored properly, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this sauce should keep for about 2 weeks.
You have a couple of options, if you don’t like heat. Use less chipotle chili powder, or swap it with ancho chili powder. You can also simply omit it altogether if you are very sensitive to spicy food, but keep in mind it will taste drastically different.
Variations and substitutions
- I’ve used chipotle chili powder in this sauce. A chipotle pepper is a jalapeño pepper that has been dried and smoked. A good substitution would be ancho chili powder. Ancho peppers are the dried version of a poblano pepper and also milder. If you don’t like a lot of heat in your BBQ sauce, this would be the perfect substitution.
- If apple cider is not available, swap out for regular apple juice. Be sure to choose an apple juice that is pure juice.
- You can use maple syrup in place of brown sugar, but it will alter the taste of the sauce. If you’re a fan of maple, this might be a good swap for you.
- Try a small pinch of cinnamon at the end to bring a little warm spice, not heat, to the apple BBQ sauce.
There are no shortage of ways to use barbecue sauce, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Shred leftover roast chicken and toss with sauce for pulled chicken sandwiches.
- Brush onto grilled chicken during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Toss wings in this sauce for game day!
Helpful tools and equipment
To make this sauce, you’ll need the basics.
- A heavy-bottomed pot
- A whisk or high heat spoon
- Measuring cups and spoons – I love this set. It has everything.
- A rubber spatula
- Bonus – Fill a few glass bottles and give to friends and neighbors as a homemade gift.
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- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or to taste)
- 2 tsp. chipotle chili powder (see notes)
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot, like an enameled cast iron pot, and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium / medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes until reduced and thickened, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of pot.
- When sauce is desired consistency, remove from heat and cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
If chipotle chili powder is unavailable, substitute with regular chili powder or ancho chili powder for less heat.
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Serving Size:1/8 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 46Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 268mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂
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