How to Make Great Barbecue Sauce?
Stick with this important barbecue sauce ratio: Start with equal parts ketchup, brown sugar, and cider vinegar. It’s that simple.
This straightforward barbecue sauce ratio is the result of years of judging the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, TN, and of testing hundreds of over-thought, overwrought recipes entered in the Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce contest.
The second most important conclusion we have reached is this one:
People put way too many ingredients in their barbecue sauces.
More isn’t better. What makes a great sauce is balance.
Here in Nashville, we’re at the center of a spiderweb of interstates that lead to every kind of regional barbecue. That’s why in our book Cheater BBQ we organized our interpretations of regional barbecue sauces according to the interstate system. We’ll take you all over the country in the book, but our favorite Nashville Crossroads Cheater Q Sauce shows the easy balance of sweetness and tartness. Nashville Crossroads starts with a well-minced onion, the even-ratio ingredients, and touches of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Don’t complicate the simple. Start with our ratio and add what you like to make the sauce your own. Double, triple, etc., this recipe as needed.
- 1 small onion, grated (use the big-holed side of a box grater to mince very fine)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarsley ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)
- Cook the onion in a small saucepan over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for a few minutes or until thickened and smooth.