Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


Sweet-and-Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Recipe from Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes

Ask most Americans to describe the perfect barbecue sauce and they’ll evoke a thick, sweet, red, ketchup-based sauce with a zing of vinegar and a whiff of liquid smoke. In short, the sort of sauce Kansas City barbecue buffs have slathered on ribs and briskets for decades. The following recipe comes from the Kansas City Barbecue Society.


  • Yield: Makes 5 cups
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  • 6 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon pure chili powder (not a blend)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 cups ketchup
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Step 1: Combine all the ingredients, except for the ketchup, in a large, deep, heavy, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until all the ingredients are dissolved, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ketchup and bring to a boil, stirring well, as the ketchup has a tendency to spatter. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 2: Reduce the heat slightly and gently simmer the sauce, uncovered, until dark, thick, and richly flavored, about 30 minutes, stirring often. Use right away or transfer to jars, cover, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for several months.

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