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Sauce Like a Boss: How to Make Your Own BBQ Sauce

When it comes to cookout condiments, one sauce reigns supreme: barbecue! This summer, go beyond store-bought bottles and make your own signature batch at home. Whether you’re vying to be grill-master of the season or saying “thanks” to your favorite host, a bottle of homemade barbecue sauce is always a welcome accompaniment.
Entertaining gifts from the kitchen June 2022 Mason Jar homemade gifts

Creating and customizing your own “secret” sauce is easier than you might think. The key is achieving the right balance of sweet, smoky, and spicy flavors. Our go-to recipe – with sweet honey, tangy vinegar, liquid smoke, and spices – comes together in just 30 minutes using the Instant Pot®.

Instant Pot® BBQ Sauce

Once you’ve perfected the basic sauce, experiment with any of the regionally inspired variations below, or create your own one-of-a-kind batch to match any meal and palate.

Eastern North Carolina-style In North Carolina, where barbecue is a way of life, geography matters. The eastern part of the state is known for a super-tangy, vinegar-forward sauce with the kick of red pepper. From the original recipe, omit the honey and add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes.

Western North Carolina-style Barbecue sauce from the western half of the Tarheel State is milder and rounded out with sweetness. From the original recipe, replace 1/2 cup tomato puree with ketchup and add 1/4 cup brown sugar.

South Carolina-style One flavorful ingredient distinguishes South Carolina barbecue sauce from all the rest. To the original recipe, add 1 cup yellow mustard, along with two tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of molasses.

Jamaican Jerk-style This fiery sauce with aromatic spices is traditionally used as a marinade and dipping sauce for chicken, but also pairs well with pork and fish. To the original recipe, add 2 tablespoons allspice, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 1-2 teaspoons habanero hot sauce.

Japanese-style While you might not think of Japan as a barbecue hot spot, the flavorful sauce known as tonkatsu deserves a spot at your cookout table. From the original recipe, replace 1/2 cup tomato puree with ketchup and add 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine).

Once you’ve created your signature sauce, transfer to a resealable container and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. For grill-ready gifting, pour sauce into mason jars and add a personalized label and list of ingredients. No matter what’s on your cookout menu, the taste of homemade sauce is certain to make you a barbecue boss.

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