national bbq month / whiskey bbq sauce recipe

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.

four roses kentucky bourbon whiskey

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.


Whiskey BBQ Sauce
  1. 1 large sweet onion, minced
  2. 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 2 tablespoons butter
  5. 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  6. 3/4 cup Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey
  7. 1/2 dark brown sugar
  8. 1/4 cup molasses
  9. 1/4 cup honey
  10. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  11. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  12. 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  13. 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  14. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  15. 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
  16. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  17. 1 28oz can diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
  18. 1 tiny can of tomato paste (use a couple tablespoons only for a thinner sauce)
  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and cook until the air smells lovely - about one minute.
  4. Add the whiskey! You can take a sip if you have extra whiskey left over... Cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. 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.
  6. Then add in your tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until it's all combined.
  7. Cook the sauce for another 20-25 minutes until it's been all heated through and smelling really lovely.
  8. Transfer to a blender and blend, blend, blend away until the sauce is very smooth.
  9. Let cool and transfer to a covered container and start adding it to EVERYTHING: chicken, hamburgers, ribs, etc.
This Tasty Life

6 thoughts on “national bbq month / whiskey bbq sauce recipe

  1. I swear I could SMELL the aromas from that cauldron in the first few pics. Makes me so hungry right now 🙁

    I had my eyes dilated earlier so it’s been hard reading stuff today. So I read “it’s easy to see why MARY has been declared National BBQ Month”.

    I was thinking, oh , that’s odd. Mary’s been declared National BBQ Month. Cool.

    Your sauce does look like a hearty tomato bisque soup. How was the meat from Phils BTW? I want to try your bbq sauce now. I never liked Phil’s bbq sauce.

    1. Hi Faye – Hahaha… I was declared National BBQ Month. That’s awesome! I thought my sauce was a little tooooo thick. I put it in one of those squeezy bottles but it didn’t want to come out! The meat from Phil’s isn’t too bad. I think the ribs used to be better than what they are now. They’re not really smoky or something and they come off the bone really easily so they’re tender but they aren’t the best ribs I’ve ever had. Phil’s sauce is so damn tangy I just don’t like it! I still have some of my sauce left, I’m going to try and use it up this weekend.

  2. Mmm, I’ve never made my own bbq sauce before either, but this looks delicious. I think it’s funny too that we both posted our bourbon creations on the same day.

    1. Hi Kirbie – I always get a chuckle when we post on the same day, like we planned it (but didn’t). 🙂 I want to try making more BBQ sauces now since I thought this one was too thick.

    1. Hi CC – It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. And it makes a bunch so it’ll last awhile for multiple recipes (or maybe just a big party, haha).

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