Emergency, quick, easy BBQ sauce

Emergency BBQ sauce recipe
Everybody’s got a bottle of BBQ sauce in their fridge, right?

Except, of course, if you’ve already been to the store, and the meat is in the oven, and you don’t want to go back out again. True story.

But a little desperation is often the beginning of a great new recipe.

A little googling turned up a recipe which claims to be “A Very Popular BBQ Sauce.” It looked quick and simple, so I used this as the starting point for my DIY BBQ sauce. I needed to scale it down, cut back on the sugar, and replace the hot sauce. I was very happy with the result! I think you will be, too.

(Note: Unless you’re using homemade ketchup, there will still be sugar and/or corn syrup in the ketchup. To avoid corn syrup in store-bought ketchup, look for the word “Simple” on the front label — and check the actual ingredients list on the back. Even if you use store-bought ketchup, this recipe still has waaaaaay less sugar than anything you can find at Kroger, and is cheaper than anything you can buy at Whole Foods!)

(Oh, so you’re hardcore on sugar, huh? Here’s a sugar-free ketchup recipe.)

Emergency easy BBQ sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup brown sugar (or 1/4 c. maple syrup, and omit water)

(If your taste is accustomed to very little sugar, start with just 3 T. sugar or syrup.)

3 T. red wine vinegar (or sub up to 1 T balsamic)

2 T. water

1-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or more if you like it, or optional if you don’t have it)

1/2 teaspoon granulated onion

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon adobo sauce, or more if you like it spicy (optional; adds heat and smokiness)

1/8 t. salt

If you’ll be applying the sauce to meat that’s going back on grill or oven, you can just mix it up and add it in/on.

If serving as a condiment, it will benefit from a brief heating….

Put everything in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir till well combined and cook for one or two minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Too sweet? Add a splash of vinegar. Too vinegary? Add a pinch or two of sugar. Too plain? Add salt till it tastes better, and/or add more onion, paprika, or Worchestershire.

Remove from heat and let cool.

photo credit: The mofoJT via photopin cc


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  1. Hi Jana
    Thank you So much for this Emergency BBQ sauce – you literally saved my bacon! Lol …..
    I was just finishing my lovely pork ribs and corn under the griller, and my partner came into the kitchen to get the “essentials” for service. She asked me where the rib sauce was… I looked into the fridge too, but there was nary a bottle to be seen…..
    Trying to hold back the rising panic, I ripped the pantry door open and started feverishly rootling about amongst the shelves … Panic struck – With horror, I looked her in the eyes, and we simultaneously screamed NOOOO!!!
    Suffice to say, you saved the day and a delicious sauce was enjoyed by all.
    With a heartfelt Thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂

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