Home » Condiments » The best bourbon BBQ sauce recipe

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!

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.

For a bourbon BBQ sauce with a fruity twist, try my blueberry bourbon BBQ sauce or my apple bourbon BBQ sauce. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my condiment recipes here.

Bourbon BBQ sauce in clear glass jar with bottle of bourbon in the background.

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Why you should make this 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.

  • Quick and easy – This BBQ sauce cooks in 20 minutes and uses common pantry ingredients.
  • Make ahead – This sauce will keep for two weeks in the fridge. You can make it well ahead of time, and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
  • Versatile – You can use this BBQ sauce in any of your favorite grilled recipes. It’s also fantastic on chicken wings!
Bourbon BBQ sauce in clear canning jar with bottle of bourbon sitting at an angle behind the jar.

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.

Spoon in BBQ sauce.


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.
    • Substitution: 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.

How to make

Here’s a quick summary of how to make bourbon BBQ sauce. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe. 

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

Chicken wings coated in BBQ sauce on a white plate with bottle of bourbon and BBQ sauce in the background.
  1. Pour bourbon into a medium-sized saucepot over low heat.
  2. Add the tomato paste and whisk until smooth.
  3. As the tomato paste and bourbon warm, it will come together. Then add in all of the spices and whisk again until smooth.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and let it simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, until thickened. That’s it!


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.

Dipping a basting brush into the jar of BBQ sauce.

Variations and substitutions

  • Mustard – 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.
  • Maple – 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.
  • Tomato – 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.

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

More BBQ sauce recipes

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Bourbon BBQ sauce

Cheryl Bennett
Homemade bourbon BBQ sauce recipe comes together in just 20 minutes.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups
Calories 96 kcal


  • 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


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


*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.


Serving: 1/4 cupCalories: 96kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 1gFat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 271mgFiber: 1gSugar: 14g
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