Thursday, May 18

Sweet Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Summer is here and we love to barbecue!  My husband even bought a smoker 2 summers ago and we smoke everything and even have what we call "Smokin Sundays"!
Years ago my sister Debra and her husband Phil came over on a lazy summer Saturday to show us how to make our own homemade barbecue sauce.  
They brought all the ingredients with them and we spent the day mixing, stirring, simmering and tossing back a few cold adult beverages.  
Once the barbecue sauce was thick enough, we generously brushed it on ribs and had a wonderful backyard barbecue.
I didn’t write down each ingredient as my sister added it to the sauce, nor could I have, without just guessing at the correct measurements.  My sister had a way of cooking without a recipe and everything every time turned out delicious. Let me tell you, I am not that person.  
I lost my sister a few years back but I'm still trying to recreate some of her recipes.  One of our favorites I was able to somewhat copy is Debra’s Stuffed Hot Peppers.

My sister Debra and her son Adam
Now a Little BBQ Sauce History:
Sauces used while smoking and marinating meat have been around for centuries.  Most sauces had a base of butter or vinegar with an added tomato sauce or tomato paste base coming much later.
The oldest commercially made barbecue sauce still made today, began in 1917 when Adam Scott opened a barbecue restaurant in Goldsboro, NC. It was served in his restaurant until his son, A. Martel Scott, Sr., spiced up the mixture a bit in 1946. Scott's Family Barbecue Sauce is still available today and is an East Carolina classic.

Louis Maull of St. Louis was the first to bottle barbecue sauce, beating Heinz to the punch by 22 years. Heinz may have been the first in broad national distribution, but not the first in a bottle.

In 1897 Maull began selling groceries from a horse-drawn wagon. He incorporated in 1905 and began manufacturing a line of condiments by 1920.  Maull introduced his barbecue sauce in 1926. It became so popular that it’s about all they make nowadays.

Dry Rub:
One day, while searching through recipes on the Internet for dry rub mixes I found one that sounded really good on The Yummy Life Blog.  Her recipe brought up lots of great memories of my sister and her BBQ sauce and is what gave me the idea to attempt my own sauce.  
It’s been 4 or 5 years now of mixing, adding and testing and my sauce just keeps improving, enough so that I think it’s ready to share. 
There are tons of barbecue sauces out there and it seems everyone makes it a little different.  This recipe can be made sweet, tangy, spicy or whatever combination you like best.  We like them all: tangy, sweet and a little smoky, but make the sauce how you like it. 

One year I even entered my barbecue sauce in the Ohio State Fair and won a blue ribbon!
This sauce was a blue ribbon winner!

Variations and Tips:
  • Use only real ketchup for the best results.  Read the labels, most ketchup is now high fructose corn syrup, not real ketchup. 
  • The same is true for maple syrup.  Use the real stuff, not fake for best results.
  • Use real raw honey for the best results (yikes, broken record).
  • The directions for mixing together the spices is here:  Dry Rub Mix
  • If you want more heat, add more cayenne pepper.
  • If you want it less sweet, decrease the honey and maple syrup.
  • Don’t like the smoky flavor, leave it out.

Cooking the sauce in a crockpot is easy and time-saving

The great thing about barbecue sauce is you can play around with it to get the desired flavor you want.  What is it you buy most at the grocery store?  Sweet? Spicy?  Then stick with what you love.
Because of the added vinegar, this barbecue sauce can be water bathed. (See Ball Blue Book, page 54 in the older book and page 89 in the newer one). 

This recipe makes approximately 7 pints, so enough to fill a canner. 

Messy work filling the jars

Homemade Barbecue Sauce


1- 64-ounce bottle and 1- 28 oz bottle of real Ketchup (or amounts close to that)
2 ¾ cups cider vinegar
4 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 cup raw honey
1 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)
3 - 4 tablespoons hickory liquid smoke (optional)
2 tablespoons molasses
½ cup dry rub mix (all the spices)

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan or Crockpot. I always cook and simmer mine in a large Crockpot.  It’s so easy and I don’t worry about scorching or burning.  And I can let it simmer while I go do something else!
Stir well to mix all the spices then bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 4 hours or to desired thickness. Stir occasionally as it cooks.  You can put the lid ajar to allow the steam to escape if need be to help with cooking down and thickening a little more. 

Preparing jars for canning


Because of the added vinegar, this barbecue sauce can be water bathed. (See Ball Blue Book, page 54 in the older book and page 89 in the newer book).
Prepare water bath canner.
Wash and sterilize mason jars and keep hot.
Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving a ½ inch head space.  Wipe jar rims.
Apply the two piece lid, tightening to finger tip tight.
Place jars in canner and make sure water covers the jars by 1 inch.  

Because of the vinegar, the sauce is safe to water bath can
Process covered, over medium-high heat, bringing water to a rolling boil.  Timing begins when water begins to boil.  Process half pints and pints for 20 minutes in boiling water canner.
Remove from canner and allow to cool for 24 hours without disturbing. DO NOT tighten bands. 

Check that all lids are sealed by pressing the center of the lid to make sure it is concave. Wipe off jars and then store in a cool dark pantry.

Small Batch Barbecue Sauce
You can use this recipe to do a little experimenting on your own to come up with just the right flavor for you, before making a large batch. These measurements are a guideline.  Add or remove spices, etc to your taste. 


2 cups ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
½ teaspoon maple flavoring
1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
½ to 1 teaspoon molasses
2 tablespoons dry rub mix

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan or Crockpot. Stir well. Over medium heat, bring to boil; reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 to 4 hours. Stir occasionally as it cooks.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Will store for several weeks.

We use this barbecue sauce on meats but the kids like to mix it up to make a copycat Raising Cane's sauce. 


Hurrah, Barbecue season is here!


I came across a few old (old) photos while looking for my BBQ sauce photos! 
These are such a time capsule.....

My hubby is the one with the cigar, : )

A pig roast we had one year when the kids were young.  


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Another perfect Blog posting! Absolutely wonderful. Great photo of Debra and Adam.
Strawberries are just starting to be picked in New Jersey.

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