Sweet meets savory, meets spice, in this Ménage à trois of flavor.
Barbecue sauce is a fickle thing, which is understandable for a condiment with so many iconic regional styles. From thin savory, vinegary South Carolina styles, to the more Midwestern/Kansas City thick and sweet styles, there’s a BBQ sauce for everyone’s tastes (that includes you Texas)!
And deciding to make your own BBQ sauce throws you down this endless rabbit hole of flavor exploration. I’d highly recommend it. Especially because, if you’ve only ever been exposed to the mass-produced sauces that line grocery stores (which is really in most cases nothing more than flavored ketchup).
I had a lot of fun planning this out, and the result is the Boxcar Cooks’s first official batch of BBQ sauce. It’s primarily inspired by the Lexington-Style dip, with a strong vinegar base. I opted for an unsweetened organic tomato paste because I figured Ketchup would be overkill in the sweetness department, especially when you are adding pineapple juice, a pineapple puree, and hints of honey and brown sugar. The smoky and spice factor comes in to play with your standard BBQ spices, along with pureed chipotle pepper and a few tablespoons of a habanero-based hot sauce (you can also use your own fresh habanero if you are feeling up to it). As you can see, I was pretty ambitious. The sauce has a lot going on. But in the end, it (somehow) all works.
The instructions are straightforward, and the recipe requires little fuss. My only advice is to let the sauce, once mixed together, to rest for at least 1 hour (and up to 24 hours) to let the flavors meld as much as possible.
Here’s to the first of many BBQ sauces.
Time You Need
- ~10 minutes prep
- ~30 minutes simmering
- ~1 hour resting
- Yields: ~3 cups
What You Need
- 2 cups of distilled apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of organic tomato paste
- 1/2 cup of diced tomato, drained and dried
- 2 teaspoon of a habanero based hot sauce
- 1/2 cup of fresh pureed pineapple
- ½ cup of fresh pineapple juice
- 4 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo
- 2 tbsp corn starch
What You Do
- In a blender or large food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Transfer to a medium sauce pan, and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. Then transfer to a jar or air-tight container with a lid, and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Serve as you would normal BBQ sauce. Should keep for up to one week.