Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce Recipe
Make a list of your 10 favorite grilling recipes and I guarantee something with BBQ sauce is on it. Everyone knows good BBQ sauce is the pantry essential of any decent griller. Please note: I said GOOD BBQ sauce. Your average $3.00 bottle of grocery store nonsense isn’t always going to cut it if you want to be on the top of your grilling game. But what exactly makes a good BBQ sauce? Which ingredients create the right balance of smoky and tangy? How do you create a sauce that’s versatile enough to compliment all of your different BBQ dishes?
This vinegar based BBQ sauce recipe will take you back to basics and cover in detail everything you need to know to achieve the perfect sweet-but-salty layer of flavor for your best grilling creations.
What You Will Need For This BBQ Sauce Recipe
- Apple Cider Vinegar - This is the base of your sauce, so picking just the right kind of vinegar is important. Apple Cider Vinegar is tangy without being too savory, making it a great flavor for BBQ sauce.
- Ketchup - Keep in mind that you’ll be adding sugar as well, so picking a ketchup with the right sugar content can make a big difference in the overall flavor of your sauce. You might need to experiment with this depending on your goal for the end result.
- Brown Sugar - It wouldn’t be BBQ sauce without that rich, brown color so make sure you use brown sugar and nothing else!
- Hot Sauce - There are so many hot sauces on the market to choose from and the flavor of the one you pick will be what makes your sauce personal to you and the dish you’re creating. Keep your options open with this ingredient!
- Chili Powder
- Red Chili Pepper Flakes
- Dry Mustard
- Whole Peppercorn
- Measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl, a saucepan, a whisk, and an extra fine strainer.
The Recipe: Step by Step
1. Select Your Ingredients
Everyone has a little bit of preference when it comes to their favorite BBQ sauce flavor. While most of the ingredients have been selected for you, there are still some choices to make. If you want a sweeter sauce you should choose a ketchup that contains the usual amount of sugar and a hot sauce that is more on the mild side. It you want a sauce with some heat to it, opt for an organic ketchup that contains less sugar and your favorite fiery hot sauce.
The desired taste of your sauce may also vary depending on what you plan to pair it with. For example, I like to make Hawaiian-style pulled pork sliders, complete with pineapple slices and sweet bread. While I love a spicy dish, for this particular meal I prefer to keep things sweet with a hint of tangy so I would avoid using a BBQ sauce that is too spicy or savory. I’d use a ketchup with classic sugar content, like good old Heinz, and for my hot sauce I might pick something with a layer of fruit, like Pickapeppa’s Gingery Mango Sauce for instance. On the other hand, a good sriracha BBQ sauce would make a delicious chicken wing marinade or a green chile hot sauce for some spicy baby back ribs. Having the ability to tailor this recipe is exactly what makes it so perfect. There is no one sauce that goes with everything but with this template you have limitless options and room to experiment until you have the perfect BBQ sauce flavor on hand for several different meals.
2. Measure It Out
The easiest way to do this is to keep dry with dry and wet with wet. Put your spices and sugar together in a bowl at the following measurements: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp red chili pepper flakes, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 1/2 tbsp salt, and 2 tbsp whole peppercorn. Toss these dry ingredients together with a fork or whisk.
Separately, you’ll combine your liquid ingredients as follows: 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 1 cup ketchup, and 1/4 cup hot sauce. Give this a stir as well.
Pro-Tip: Measure your liquid ingredients directly into a saucepan to make cleanup easier. After all, you’re making BBQ sauce so you can spend more time at the grill, not the kitchen sink!
3. Combine & Heat
Pour your spice and sugar mixture into your liquid mixture and combine well. Use a whisk to ensure you’ve broken up those dry ingredients thoroughly and your sauce is nice and smooth. No one wants chunky BBQ sauce. Then, turn on your stove to a medium heat and continue to stir the sauce as it warms to a simmer. Heating the mixture is important to infuse the flavors of your various ingredients but don’t overdo it either or your sauce could scorch.
You’ll need a strainer with very small holes, such as a mesh strainer, to separate the red pepper flakes and peppercorn from your sauce. Let the sauce cool until it reaches a safe temperature. Then, strain it back into the mixing bowl you used earlier to avoid dirtying extra dishes, or separate into jars to store and use later.
Pro-Tip: Use a squeeze bottle to store your sauce. This makes it convenient to use and easy to get to every last drop! Picnic style condiment bottles are easy to find at your local grocery or dollar store.
There you have it! Everything you need to know to have just the right BBQ sauce on hand for any meal. This recipe is so easy and customizable there is no excuse to go with store-bought sauce ever again. KC Masterpiece will be so disappointed. If you liked this recipe be sure to share it, then comment below with your favorite variation of the sauce. We want to know what flavors you have created and what meat you’ve paired them with!
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of BBQ sauce is vinegar based?
Many regional barbecue sauces are ketchup based, but North Carolina is famous for their vinegar-based BBQ sauces. Some of their sauces are pure vinegar and are used as mops, but the Lexington-style barbecue adds a little tomato paste or ketchup to round out the tangy flavor.
Can you add vinegar to barbecue sauce?
Almost all barbecue sauces have a little vinegar to balance out the sweetness from the ketchup. If you ever feel that your barbecue sauce is too thick or too sweet, feel free to add in a little apple cider vinegar. It will provide the perfect amount of tangy flavor.
How long do vinegar-based sauces last?
The shelf life of a vinegar-based barbecue sauce really depends on the ingredients used, the temperatures used to prepare it, and the storage methods. If you used ketchup that was close to its best-by date, the barbecue sauce wouldn’t last for long! When considering store-bought barbecue sauce, it should last 6 to 12 months past the printed best-by date.
Can vegans eat barbecue sauce?
Most barbecue sauce is made with plant-based ingredients, which means that BBQ is a safe condiment for vegans. Be sure to check the ingredients label, and if you’re making your own barbecue sauce avoid ingredients like Worcestershire (which contains anchovies).
How do you thicken barbecue sauce?
Most BBQ sauce is naturally thick since it’s made with ketchup. If you happened to add too many liquid ingredients and the sauce is thinner than you hoped, you can always add more ketchup or mustard to thicken it up. Sweet ingredients like brown sugar, honey, and molasses will also thicken up a sauce. If nothing else is working, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water for every cup of sauce you wish to thicken. Whisk the slurry into the barbecue sauce and simmer the sauce until it thickens and starts to bubble and cook the cornstarch for about 2 minutes.