If you’re looking for a homemade bbq sauce for your next cookout, or to take the likes of your pulled pork sandwiches or brisket up a notch, you’re in the right place. This Beer BBQ Sauce recipe is going to rock your barbecue world.
While I’ll admit that I buy store bought stuff sometimes, there’s nothing like a homemade sauce, and that goes for barbecue as well as any other. There’s nothing in a jar that tastes like the fresh, complex flavors that come from cooking it on the stovetop.
I can’t necessarily pinpoint my favorite sauce (who can?) but this one is my go-to for cookouts and at-home wing night.
Why You Want To Use This Sauce
Outside of wings, this recipe is a great way to spruce up a lot of meals from salmon to salads — you can even use it to make a dip. It doesn’t take a long time to make, and most of the ingredients are likely already on hand.
If you’re a beer aficionado, you may know that using malty beers will impart nutty aromas that will work well with the flavors in a bbq sauce. If you’re not a beer lover, you can learn a bit here about how to cook with it and how it can enhance your dish, even if you don’t choose to sip it.
First time making a beer bbq sauce? Trust that this is an easy recipe and it’s super hard to mess it up — you can completely customize it in terms of flavor and texture, and even thickness.
Full disclosure: I recognize that there are some serious turf wars about regional barbecue styles! This recipe is intended to be a starting point for anyone interested in exploring bbq sauce and was intentionally made to be completely customizable.
Best Beer for BBQ Sauce
As with any recipe that incorporates alcohol, the rule of thumb is to use what you would enjoy drinking. If you adore a dark beer and generally avoid an IPA, then stick with what you like.
That said, the best barbecue sauces have complex flavors so going with one of your top picks of craft beers is probably preferable over dumping in a low cost light bottle of beer you’re willing to swill, even if it’s your go-to in the summer.
A malty beer works well because it adds just the right amount of flavor to balance out the other ingredients that range from tart and acidic to sweet. Think of stouts, lagers, pilsners, porters, pale ales or your favorite bock beer.
Whichever beer style you choose is up to you, but just make sure it’s a libation you already love to sip.
- Vegetable oil– You can substitute any oil you prefer, but this is my preference for this recipe since it has neutral flavors.
- Red onion– You’ll want to chop the onion finely so it’s easier to blend.
- Garlic cloves– Either chop the garlic cloves or put them through a garlic press.
- Beer– As discussed, choose the one you love to sip or swill.
- Ketchup– Any brand will work or make your own homemade ketchup.
- Brown sugar– You can use light or dark — dark will add more molasses-type flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar– I prefer to get the varieties that have the “mother,” but any vinegar you have on hand will do.
- Cumin– This adds an earthiness to the sauce that can’t be matched.
- Black pepper– Grind it fresh, or use it from the table.
- Kosher salt– Make sure to get the coarse variety — it’s far superior in this recipe over typical table salt.
- Cornstarch– This thickener, mixed with water, will bring your sauce to the next level.
How to Make
- After heating vegetable oil on medium heat in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic. While fresh onion is preferable, onion powder can stand in as a substitute.
- Using a wooden spoon, saute the onion and garlic until they are soft and fragrant, yet not browned.
- Deglaze the pan with the beer. Start slowly, adding just a bit to begin the process before adding the rest to allow the process of deglazing to begin.
- Once all of the beer is added, stir vigorously, though avoid spilling or splattering. Ensure to scrape up and incorporate any caramelized bits on the bottom then continue to simmer.
- Add to the mixture the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, cumin, pepper and salt. Stir the ingredients until the sugar has completely dissolved before allowing the mixture to continue to simmer so that the flavors can combine.
- Blend all of the contents of the saucepan using an immersion blender, ensuring that it reaches a super smooth consistency.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the cornstarch with water to make a slurry.
- Whisk the slurry into the sauce. Make sure that it is completely combined and has thickened. If you want a thicker sauce, add more but be sure to make the slurry rather than just adding cornstarch.
- Use the sauce immediately or allow it to come to room temperature before storing.
Ways to Use Beer BBQ Sauce
- Poultry- This is a perfect chicken wing sauce but it also works well on chicken breasts or as a dip for fried chicken.
- Pork recipe- Slather this over some pork chops or a pork tenderloin, or put it on your instant pot pulled pork sandwich or smoked BBQ Pork Sliders. It’s obviously stellar on ribs.
- Beef– This beer infused bbq sauce is a perfect pairing for brisket, but you can use it with nearly any type of beef. It’s especially amazing spread over burgers.
- Fish– Nearly any baked or grilled fish will be made better with bbq. Salmon is strong enough to hold up to flavors, but even milder fish like tilapia will work well.
- Baked beans- Add this to your favorite baked bean recipe for some serious flavor.
- Meatloaf– Ditch the ketchup and sauce up your meatloaf with this instead.
- Salad– Use this to make the best grilled chicken or cobb salad you’ve had.
- Pizza– Yes, you can use bbq sauce on pizza! Make a chicken barbecue pizza or just dip your crusts in it.
- Sloppy Joes– Mix your meat with this sauce for an incredibly easy weeknight dinner.
- Hot dogs and bratwurst– Serve this up at your next cookout to drizzle over hot dogs, brats, and whatever else comes off the grill.
- Quesadillas, tacos and burritos– Use as a dipping sauce or spread it inside with all of the other meat and veggie goodness.
- Sandwiches- Spread this sauce on some bread before you layer your deli meats and cheese. Or, try making a grilled cheese or panini with it.
- Veggies– Try using this as a dipping sauce for fried cauliflower or zucchini, french fries, or even fresh vegetables. You can also toss your sauteed mushrooms with it for a saucy side dish or beautiful garnish for your steak.
- Nachos– Top those chips with all the things you love (proteins, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheese sauce) and then drizzle some sauce over it all. If you want to get really southern, toss some dollops of pimento cheese on there, too.
- Fried food- Any fried food works with bbq sauce — trade out your ranch, marinara, or blue cheese. Instead, dip the likes of mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and fried mushrooms or jalapeno poppers into this goodness.
- Dip– Mix bbq sauce with sour cream or Greek yogurt for a quick and easy dip.
- Spice it Up! Add sauteed jalapeno, habanero or dried red pepper flakes or aleppo. You can also try adding your favorite hot sauce.
- Swap the sweeteners- We used brown sugar, but honey, agave nectar, and sweeteners like molasses or maple syrup are great ways to tweak the flavors.
- Just Add Fruit- Fruit is a natural sweetener and adds sophistication flavor. When using dried fruit, reconstitute them in hot water before adding. Just 1-2 tablespoons goes a long way. Our favorites are prunes, dates, raisins and cherries.
- Up the Umami- By adding 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard or Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.
- Swap out the Vinegar- Any acidic liquid can be used, such as other types of vinegar or even citrus juices like lemon juice or orange juice. You can also use red wine or red wine vinegar.
- Make a smoky sauce- Add some Liquid Smoke to give the sauce a deep smokiness or try using smoked paprika. If you have smoked sea salt handy, that will add depth as well.
- Trade out your tomatoes- Instead of ketchup, try using tomato paste or tomato sauce for a different flavor and texture. You can even use your favorite salsa.
Is This Safe for Children?
I’m not a medical professional, so I am not giving advice, however when alcohol reaches a temperature of 172°F, it evaporates, leaving behind the flavor of the liquid it was in. Sauces will begin to simmer at 185°F, so the alcohol will burn off making this safe for pregnant women and children to enjoy.
Storage & Freezing
Store this sauce for up to a week in an airtight container. You can also freeze for up to three months in a freezer-safe container.
Other BBQ Sauces and Beer Recipes
- Buttered Beer Shrimp
- Beer and Bacon Sauerkraut
- Guinness and Cheddar Meatloaf
- Bourbon Sauce (a dessert sauce)
Beer BBQ Sauce Recipe
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 12 ounces stout or lager beer
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
- In a medium saucepan heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until soft and fragrant, approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Deglaze with beer, stirring to scrape up any caramelized bits on the bottom. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, cumin, pepper and salt. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Tilt the saucepan and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
- In a small mixing bowl combine 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of water. This depends on how thick you want your sauce. I recommend starting with one and then adding another if it isn’t thick enough. Whisk into the BBQ sauce until no streaks remain and sauce has thickened.
- Use BBQ sauce on ribs, chicken, pork fish or anything else you desire.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.