OT: Calling All MGoCooks (BBQ Sauce)

Submitted by MaizeMN on June 22nd, 2013 at 9:58 AM

I've been making salsa, hot sauce and BBQ sauce for several years. Based on some threads I've read, it seems like some fellow MGoBloggers have a similar interest. I have a rib competition in a couple of months, so I was hoping for some epicurian advice on how to create a better BBQ sauce. I know a lot of the tricks: honey, coffee, balsamic, etc., but what do you folks do that makes a BBQ sauce MGoLicious? Any input is appreciated; GO BLUE!        EDIT: No Commercial sauces are allowed in the competition.  



June 22nd, 2013 at 10:19 AM ^

I do a few different sauces, depending on the type of meat. Some ingredients I've had success with are chipotles(don't like to use any of the adobo sauce just the pepper good smokiness, or if you can find smoked dried peppers even better), dark unsweetened cocoa powder, or orange soda. I did an orange soda BBQ sauce made with old fashioned orange soda, habeneros, and sage that was out of this world on smoked chicken quarters. Also if you don't already grind your own chile peppers, you should. This will be the biggest difference maker for flavor profile in your sauce since you can create your own blend.


June 22nd, 2013 at 12:26 PM ^

Nothing wrong with it, I love it in certain applications. But I really like to control the ingredients in my rub and sauce which is why I use whole dried chiles (better flavor and no added ingredients). I think most commercial adobo is tomato, vinegar, garlic, and "spices", so I guess in would rather add those items in controlled amounts. Also dried chiles are easier for me because I always end up needing to strain any sauce using fresh chiles so I can remove and chunks.


June 22nd, 2013 at 10:19 AM ^

I've made my own for a long time and enjoy cooking, but I like 3 store bought sauces just as much as my own:

The Jug

Cowboy Caliente from F McLintocks in Pismo Beach CA (order online)

And a sauce my wife picked up from Whole Foods that was fantastic. Unfortunately, she's out right now and I can't ask her. It's got a sketch-like picture of an old guy on the label. It was very good


June 22nd, 2013 at 10:22 AM ^

I think the key is to pick a style and stay in that range. Too often people will take a Georgia base and then add Kansas City spices which can overwhelm the palate.

You also need to consider the meat. A sauce designed for pork is not best for beef. Even within meat there are differences between a brisket and a ribs.

The sauce is a complement and should bring out accents in the meal. Think of it as a fine wine and not like Mad Dog 20/20.

Like It's 19BBY

June 22nd, 2013 at 10:22 AM ^

Don't mean to hijack it either, but if anyone has any suggestions on any home made dry rubs or just tips on selecting ingredients for homemade dry rubs. It would be AWESOME.

Benoit Balls

June 22nd, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

1/4 c smoked paprika, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar,  2 teaspoons cayenne, 1 tablespoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, cumin,. 2 teaspoons dried oregano. 

For a simple "Carolina-esque" sauce, mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and dark brown sugar in a saucepan. Toss in a tablespoon or two of crushed red pepper flakes. Heat on low until sugar is dissolved.  


June 22nd, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

Low and slow.  Dats how you do it.  (FredFlintstone'd)

Especially pork...and a piece of meat that is well marbled.  Low heat for a long time really breaks up the fibers in the meat nicely allowing it to be nice and tender, pulls apart nicely and melts in the mouth.  Moist heat helps, too.

'Scuse me, gotta go get my grill prepped.


June 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 AM ^

I'm far from experienced in BBQ, but when it comes to bottled sauces this is something I've used very frequently in a variety of ways: Bronco Bob's Smoked Bacon Chipotle sauce. Don't let the silly name turn you away, it's awesome stuff, especially if you like bacon. You can get it here:


The original manufacturer is: http://ladywaltons.com/bronco-bobs-sauces/


June 22nd, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

(1) the recommendation above to read Raichlin's books on BBQ is excellent.  Its funny, he's a Jewish guy from the Northeast, but (IMO) he's written far and away the best books on BBQ.  One of those Lafayette-writing-about-America deals.

(2) The key to remember with barbecue sauce is balance.  The sauce has to cut fatty meat, so on its own it should always taste a little too acid.  (This is why, for example, you have styles of BBQ sauce that are basically flavored acid that are unpalatable solo.)  Generally speaking, the more sugar you add to a sauce the more acid you'll need to add.  Never make a sauce cloying.

(3) Assuming you are using the sauce on real smoked meat, never add liquid smoke.

(4)BBQ sauce is, in essence, a glutamate, spice, acid, and (in some cases) sugar delivery device.  In that sense, it is essentially like chili without the meat (the same priniciples apply there).  Therefore, the same tricks that work with chili work with BBQ sauce;

for glutamate, worcestershire (or, if you know how to use it right, straight anchovies); soy sauce, fish sauce, vegemite, ham or bacon.

for spice, it's a matter of preference; there's no magic elixir.  I sometimes use a jerk chicken sauce on my BBQ that i pick up at a local jamaican joint.  It is redolent of allspice. It is delicious.

for sugar, you can use molasses/brown sugar, which adds some pleasing caramel notes.  You can use honey, though I find that too "fresh" for BBQ.  Maple or birch syrup works, but has a distinctive flavor.  Tomato paste.  Sugar.  Really anything.

For acid, tomato paste, vinegar.


June 22nd, 2013 at 11:04 AM ^

My wife got me a cookbook called Charred and Scruffed and I love it.  Its really changed the way I look at bbq'ing.  Author's name is Adam Perry Lang.  Check it out on Amazon.com.


June 22nd, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

I have used with success Honey and worcestshire as stated above.  To go along with brown sugar I have started adding a little saigon cinnamon.  I also have incorporated seasoned salt balance some of the sweet from the honey and a friend of mine incorporates apple juice into his sauce (primarily for chicken).


June 22nd, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

Out of curiosity, how long do you grill your ribs for? Or maybe I should ask all you MGoGrillers out there, what is your grilling prodecure when it comes to ribs? I make a mean steak on the grill and of course hamburgers, brats and what not, but my BBQ ribs have always been just ok.


June 22nd, 2013 at 11:49 AM ^

That's the rule for ribs. The longer they cook at a lower temperature the better they will end up. Ribs are also tricky because of size, and many grills don't maintain a consistent temperature through out the grill. Learning to control charcoal was too much work for me, but the investment in a nice Weber grill did wonders for mine. It has 3 gas controls so I leave the center one off to remove the possibilty of flame ups.

The best ribs I've ever had were from a guy who smoked his ribs with charcoal from Hawaii and wood from a rainforest in Fiji or something. I think he said he smoked them for 8 hours.


June 22nd, 2013 at 12:12 PM ^

I bought myself a smoker 2 Christmas ago. when it comes to ribs I like to smoke them for around 8-9 hours on a low heat. I use apple wood and spray the ribs down with apple juice every hour to prevent from drying out the ribs.