The sauce is one of the most crucial components of a successful barbeque dinner. The reason that authentic barbeque from a food truck or grill master tastes so darn good, is that they aren’t buying mass-produced sauce but are making their own. Sauce making is not only an important step on your path to mastering the grill, it is also much easier than many people think. But where to begin when there are so many flavor profiles? Sweet and Smoky? Tangy with a vinegar bite? Honey barbeque is a good starting point. It is smoky and sweet, it goes well on everything from chicken to pulled pork, and the recipe isn’t intimidating or complicated. Before we jump into our delicious honey bbq sauce recipe, let us take a minute to appreciate the diversity of barbeque sauces across the United States.
With a base of ketchup and molasses, this sauce is sweeter and thicker than most other varieties and is the one that is most people think of when they hear barbeque sauce. Readily available everywhere from the supermarket to dipping packs at fast-food restaurants, this sauce’s popularity is a double-edged sword for barbeque enthusiasts from the area. Blending the traditional ingredients of this regional sauce with different items like red pepper flakes or soy sauce to make a unique flavor has become an art form for Missouri grill masters.
The original home of barbeque sauce in the United States, eastern North Carolina sticks to the oldest recipes, which existed before the invention of ketchup. This sauce is made from a vinegar base with salt and peppers, making it thin and tangy.
Similar in makeup to the sauce from the eastern part of the state, western North Carolina has embraced ketchup in their barbeque sauce. The addition of ketchup makes this sauce just a bit sweeter and thicker than its eastern counterpart. You will often hear this particular blend called Lexington Dip after the city of Lexington, where it originated.
Most often used on pork, this tangy sauce is similar to its northern neighbor, with one big difference, mustard. South Carolinians use mustard as their barbeque base and then add in vinegar and other seasonings to make a rich and slightly spicy sauce which is an homage to the state’s German roots.
Never one to follow along with the crowd, Texans’ barbeque sauce is less of a traditional sauce, more of a basting agent. Often called Mop Sauce, because it is applied to cooking meat with a small mop, this sauce is all about the beef. What else would you expect from a state known for its cattle ranches? Made with beef stock, hot sauces, and smokey spices like cumin, this sauce may be thin, but it is full of a big hearty flavor.
At first glance, you may not realize this condiment is a type of barbeque sauce. It is white and creamy, which throws people off, but once you taste its smooth, smoky flavor you will understand why it is considered barbeque. Used for everything from chicken, to coleslaw dressing, to a dip for fries, this regional favorite doesn’t get the national love it deserves.
Now that we’ve had a little history lesson, on to our homemade honey bbq sauce recipe.
Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe
Ingredients For Delicious Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 TBSP honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Step 1: Combining Ingredients
The first ingredients to go in your pan should be ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Use your whisk and make sure these are thoroughly combined before moving on to the next step. Slowly add the sugar, continue stirring as you do to keep your sugar from clumping. Finally, add your seasonings.
Pro-Tip: Mixing seasonings in a separate bowl before adding them to your barbeque sauce helps ensure even distribution and flavor throughout your sauce.
Step 2: Cooking
Continue cooking your sauce over Medium heat until it begins to slowly boil. This should only take a few minutes, so don’t leave your pot unattended. You don’t want to scorch the sauce. Once your sauce has reached a slow boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. It is a good idea to occasionally stir the barbeque sauce during this phase so it doesn’t cook to the sides of your pan. A little bit of burning sauce can make your entire batch taste burnt.
Pro-Tip: This is the stage where you are going to want a non-stick spatula. Something like silicone works great to scrape the edges of your pan while also being easy to clean.
Step 3: Cooling and Storage
After your honey bbq sauce has finished simmering, remove it from the heat and let it cool at room temperature. Once it is fully cooled, it can be used or transferred to a storage container and put in the fridge for up to two weeks. You will want to use an airtight container or jar for storage to maintain the best flavor.
Pro-Tip: While it is tempting to immediately transfer your honey bbq sauce to a storage container once it is finished cooking. Don’t do it. Letting the sauce cool at room temperature allows it to thicken properly, and putting a still-warm sauce in a sealed container traps the heat, causing condensation. Condensation and moisture in the storage container can make your sauce runny, which you definitely do not want.
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total: 25 Minutes
- Large Saucepan
- Non-stick Spatula
- Air-tight Container or Jar for storage
- In a large saucepan, combine ketchup, vinegar, and honey over Medium heat.
- Slowly pour in your sugar
- Add seasonings
- Continue to cook over Medium heat until sauce comes to a slow boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer on Low for 15 minutes
- Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature.
Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe
Now that we have shown you just how easy it is to make homemade barbeque sauce, you are probably eager to get started on this honey bbq sauce recipe. Barbeque sauces are something that grill masters take a lot of pride in and you will find that most people make their sauce just a little bit different. Some folks prefer to use molasses and tomato sauce instead of ketchup, or maple syrup instead of honey. This recipe is meant to be a blueprint for your honey barbeque sauce and once you feel confident in your sauce-making abilities, by all means, make tweaks and adjustments to make it your own. If you find an extra good trick or flavor combination, feel free to drop in it the comment section. Or, if you are looking for inspiration for tweaks or a secret ingredient, take a gander at the comments to see what other folks have found useful.