If you’re looking to fire up your grill or smoker and need an easy BBQ sauce to go with your meats, this is the recipe for you. Sure, you can grab a jar from the store, but this spicy BBQ sauce recipe is simple and is sure to wow your guests.
I prefer a spicy BBQ sauce so this recipe brings some heat with chili powder, ancho chile powder, and chipotle powder. All of the spiciness is balanced by the sweetness of the ketchup and brown sugar, then rounded out with the cider vinegar that also imparts a touch of tang just like the lemon.
While I definitely recommend using this sauce for your next cookout, don’t sleep on using it on lots of other dishes. From meatloaf to beans and veggies to pizza there are few foods that don’t benefit from a bit of BBQ sauce.
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What is Spicy BBQ Sauce?
Some food historians seem to suggest that BBQ sauce was most likely invented in the late 1600’s by a Dominican missionary but that its roots can be traced back to Africa. Many original BBQ sauces called for the use of butter but that ingredient isn’t as prevalent today.
BBQ sauce is a fantastic condiment to have on hand. It can be used to marinade or baste meat but it can also be used as a dip for meats, seafood, or veggies. It can even be a spread for sandwiches.
While people around the United States will debate the best regional type of barbecue sauce, we’re not going to broach that topic here. Instead, this is just a basic BBQ sauce that sports a good balance of sweet and heat. It’s a great base for you to use to tweak it however you want.
- Ketchup – you can use what you already have in the refrigerator or make your own homemade ketchup.
- White onion – mince the onion so that the pieces are very small. Making sure that your knife is sharpened will help make this step easier.
- Lemon juice – you can squeeze your own, or just use pre-packaged juice.
- Worcestershire sauce – it may be hard to say, but it should be hard to find. If you don’t already have it, it should be with the other condiments at your grocery store.
- Apple cider vinegar – there are lots of health benefits to consuming cider vinegar, but if you don’t have it on hand, white wine vinegar is a good substitute.
- Chili powder – chili powders vary from brand to brand so choose the one that you prefer.
- Ancho chili powder – made from dried poblanos, this powder has slightly more heat than regular chili powder.
- Chipotle powder – this powder will add some heat as well. If you’re looking to dial down the heat in your sauce, you can substitute smoked paprika instead.
- Salt – as with any recipe, salt will help bring out the layers of flavors of all of the ingredients
- Brown sugar – make sure to pack the brown sugar in the cup when you are measuring.
- Water – tap water will do, but feel free to use any other water that you have handy.
How To Use Spicy BBQ Sauce
BBQ sauce is amazing on nearly all meats. You can use it on slow cooker ribs, wings, and pulled pork or chicken. It’s also delicious on beef whether it’s a brisket or a roast you just pulled out of the oven. I also prefer to use it on my meatloaf instead of ketchup.
If you like to grill, BBQ sauce is definitely going to be your friend. You can pour it over hot dogs, spread it on the bun for your hamburger, or drizzle it over your brats. Any veggies you are grilling can be dipped in it as well.
I also love to use BBQ sauce in my baked beans and sloppy joes. I also like to toss hearty vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and other root veggies in barbecue and roast them in the oven.
BBQ sauce also elevates pizza night. BBQ chicken pizza is a favorite, but it’s also good to drizzle on a Hawaiian pizza.
While there are plenty of ways to use this sauce in recipes; it’s also easy enough to just spread it on your favorite sandwich. Whether you are making a simple sandwich with deli meats like turkey or roast beef, or you’re cooking up something more complex, nearly any sandwich will benefit from a dab of BBQ.
Immersion blending – if you like your sauce to be completely smooth, use an immersion blender.
Spice – heat up your BBQ sauce by adding more of any of the chili powders.
Sweetness – make a sweeter BBQ sauce by adding in more brown sugar or drizzling some honey into the sauce.
Cumin – adding cumin to the sauce will give it an earthier flavor.
You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it for up to a week in the refrigerator.
More Homemade Condiments
Spicy BBQ Sauce Recipe
- 4 cups ketchup 32 ounce bottle*
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 white onion minced
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 2 tablespoons chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- In a large saucepan or large Dutch oven, stir together the ketchup, brown sugar, onion, lemon juice, water, vinegar, chili powder, chile powders and salt. Heat over medium heat until combined.
- Reduce heat to the lowest setting and reduce for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent scalding.
- When mixture has reduced by half and deepened in color, remove from heat and use hot or allow to cool before storing.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.