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The best bourbon BBQ sauce recipe

This sweet and spicy, bourbon BBQ sauce recipe using common pantry ingredients is quick, simple and delicious. Making your own homemade barbecue sauce is so much better than anything you’ll find at the store. Try this sauce on pulled pork or chicken wings!

For a bourbon BBQ sauce with a fruity twist, try my blueberry bourbon BBQ sauce.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can. 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.

For ease of browsing, you can find all of my condiment recipes here.

Bourbon BBQ sauce in glass jar.

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Whisky BBQ sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce with bourbon whiskey is made with common pantry items and requires nothing more than a pot and a spoon or whisk. I wanted something really easy that could be made with almost no effort.

My other BBQ sauces require a blender of some sort, and while that isn’t difficult, sometimes I’m lazy and don’t want to pull out another thing that I’ll have to wash. So, instead of using fresh onion and fresh garlic, I went with their dried versions to make it easy.

Ingredients

This super easy bourbon barbecue sauce recipe comes together in 20 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.

Bourbon BBQ sauce recipe in pot.
  • Tomato paste – Gives it sweetness and the familiar BBQ sauce taste.
  • Dark brown sugar – Dark brown sugar has more molasses. If you only have light brown, add a tablespoon of molasses.
  • Granulated garlic – To substitute with garlic powder, use half the amount.
  • Granulated onion – Same as above.
  • Kosher salt – I use Diamond Crystal. If you use Morton, cut the amount by almost half.
  • Black pepper – Regular black pepper, nothing fancy.
  • Mustard powder – I use Colman’s mustard powder, it has great flavor.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Fruity vinegar gives the BBQ sauce a nice flavor.
  • Bourbon – Use whatever you have, but not your most expensive bottle.
  • Adobo sauce – The sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo gives this BBQ sauce a little smokiness.

Bourbon BBQ sauce recipe

This brown sugar bourbon BBQ sauce recipe is just a little sweet and a little smoky. It’s great on pulled pork and I really like it on chicken wings.

Chicken wings with homemade BBQ sauce.

Variations and substitutions

If you don’t have mustard powder, you can use regular yellow mustard. Mustard powder has a bit of a kick to it, which is why I like it.

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.

No tomato paste, but you have tomato sauce? Use it. You may have to cook the sauce down a little longer, because of the water in tomato sauce.

BBQ sauce in glass jar with bottle of bourbon in background.

How to make it

Making your own barbecue sauce is simple. Here’s how to make this easy bourbon BBQ sauce recipe –

Pour bourbon into a medium-sized saucepot over low heat. Add the tomato paste and whisk until smooth. As the tomato paste and bourbon warm, it will come together. Then add in all of the spices and whisk again until smooth.

Increase the heat to medium and let it simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, until thickened. That’s it!

Frequently asked questions

Here are a few answers to common questions when making homemade barbecue sauce.

What is the best bourbon for BBQ sauce?

The best bourbon for BBQ sauce is the one you like! That being said, if you have a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, this is not the place for it. I’ve used both Bulleit and Woodford Reserve for my BBQ sauces and I like them both.

Can I freeze this sauce?

Yes! You can freeze the sauce for 6 months.

How long does it last in the fridge?

If stored properly, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this sauce should keep for about 2 weeks.

How much alcohol cooks out of the sauce?

In order to FULLY remove alcohol from food when cooking, it needs to simmer for a minimum of three hours. Because this sauce is only cooking for 15 – 20 minutes, about 40% of the alcohol will remain.
If you want to cook more of it out – use a WIDE, shallow pan and stir constantly. Stirring helps the alcohol to evaporate, as does a larger surface area. The good news is that whisky does seem to evaporate quicker than most spirits.

Homemade barbecue sauce with bourbon in glass jar.

And there you have it. A super simple, homemade bourbon BBQ sauce recipe in 20 minutes.

More BBQ sauce recipes

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Yield: 2 cups

Bourbon BBQ sauce

Bourbon BBQ sauce

Homemade bourbon BBQ sauce recipe comes together in just 20 minutes.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup bourbon (*See note)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp. granulated onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. mustard powder

Instructions

  1. Add bourbon to a medium saucepot over low heat.
  2. Next, add tomato paste, apple cider vinegar and adobo sauce, then whisk until smooth.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, whisk until smooth again and increase heat to medium.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes until thickened, or to desired consistency.

Notes

*If you want a more subtle bourbon flavor, use 1/2 cup of bourbon. If you want a stronger flavor, use 3/4 cup.

Option: If you find yourself at an Asian or Latin American market, grab a package of tamarind paste. It adds AMAZING flavor to homemade BBQ sauce recipes. You don't need much - a tablespoon or two. You can adjust from there to suit your taste buds.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1/4 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 96Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 271mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.

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