With Memorial Day coming up this the weekend and the unofficial start of summer on the way, it’s easy to see why May has been declared National BBQ Month. The longer days and warmer weather make it the perfect time to start bringing all of your cooking outdoors. Here in San Diego we’re lucky enough to be able to grill pretty much all year, but sure is a lot nicer to grill when it’s warm outside.
I was recently given some mighty fine looking Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey to create a Whiskey BBQ sauce to commemorate National BBQ Month! I’ve never made my own BBQ sauce before and it’s been on my “Foodie Bucket List” as something that I’ve wanted to try to create. I was happy to have a reason to finally get off my butt and do it. Whiskey BBQ sauce sounded like a mighty fine idea to me!
I scoured recipes online and put together what I hoped would become a good BBQ sauce. You need a some sweetness, a little tang and a little bit of heat to create something special. I personally like sauces that are on the sweeter side and that’s what this recipe is.
Here’s a photo of all of the stuff I used. I originally wanted to do cayenne pepper instead of the red pepper flakes but I couldn’t find it in our cabinet… it was hiding from me. It’s probably way in the back where I couldn’t see it…
For my “sweet” there’s a combination of molasses, honey, and brown sugar and my tang is derived from some apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Smoked paprika helps bring a little smokiness to the dish with onions, garlic, ginger, and Worcestershire sauce adding in elements of flavor. Let’s do this!
I cooked the onions with a little bit of butter and olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper for about 6-7 minutes. Then the garlic and ginger was added and cooked for about a minute. Then I added in the whiskey and let that mellow out and cook in the whiskey for a few minutes before I added pretty much everything else.
The sugars and spices and everything nice’s went in after giving some color to the sauce.
Then I added in diced tomatoes and tomato paste to round it all out. A lot of recipes called for ketchup but I didn’t want the extra additives and sweetness from the ketchup in my sauce. I wanted tomato sauce without any additives either (no garlic or herbs) and the only thing I found was the diced tomatoes.
I cooked the mixture for another 30 minutes or so before pulling it off the heat and putting it into our Vitamix blender for a whirl.
When it came out, it looked like this! It almost looks like a tomato sauce and has a bit of a “tomato” flavor. My dad said he’d like to eat this over spaghetti! I wouldn’t, but he said he would. The BBQ sauce was a bit on the thicker side so in retrospect I would NOT have used the whole little can of tomato paste.
It turned out pretty! The whiskey flavor is quite distinct in here but you also get notes of the other ingridents: the sweetness comes through with a touch of heat and a little smokiness from that paprika. The flavors kind of play out on your tongue as you eat it which I really liked.
The first night I tried the BBQ sauce by cooking leftover chicken directly in the sauce on the stove. Great way to use leftovers!
Jake and I also went to Phil’s BBQ and got some beef ribs “dry” so we could try my sauce on their ribs.
For comparison’s sake, we got some of the Phil’s sauce on the side (on the right).
I dabbed a little of my whiskey BBQ sauce on and it turned out really well. The flavors mingled so nicely and the sweetness was really nice – especially compared to Phil’s fairly tangy sauce. If you dig the tangy stuff keep on going with Phil’s but I prefer mine sweet! Jake said he overwhelming liked my sauce better, but I think he might be a little bit biased… haha.
If you’re looking to make your own BBQ sauce this summer, give this one a whirl. It’s really not too hard to make and it lasts for a while in the fridge. The following weekend Jake made burgers on the grill and I topped off my burger with this sauce and a few baked onion rings and it was DELICIOUS. The sauce has many applications and is quite versatile! Happy grilling!
Disclaimer: I receive complimentary samples of Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey and a gift card to Whole Foods to help in the creation of this recipe. All ideas and the recipe presented here are my own.
- 1 large sweet onion, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
- 3/4 cup Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey
- 1/2 dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 28oz can diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
- 1 tiny can of tomato paste (use a couple tablespoons only for a thinner sauce)
- Because I'm weird, I like to measure out every little thing first before I start cooking. Do this if you like to not stop and measure things like me!
- Melt butter and olive oil together in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and a dash of salt/pepper and cook the onions for 6-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and ginger and cook until the air smells lovely - about one minute.
- Add the whiskey! You can take a sip if you have extra whiskey left over... Cook for about 5 minutes.
- Start adding in the sweet stuff - brown sugar, molasses, honey. Then add in your other flavors - lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Stir it all up and meld it together.
- Then add in your tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until it's all combined.
- Cook the sauce for another 20-25 minutes until it's been all heated through and smelling really lovely.
- Transfer to a blender and blend, blend, blend away until the sauce is very smooth.
- Let cool and transfer to a covered container and start adding it to EVERYTHING: chicken, hamburgers, ribs, etc.