No matter what style of barbecue you are cooking, chances are you want to have a barbecue sauce (at least on the side) that complements and elevates that great meat flavor even more. The use of barbecue sauce when outdoor cooking meat dates back to as early as the end of the 15th century when Christopher Columbus brought a primitive sauce back from Hispaniola that was used for cooking Alpaca meat.
The variety and number of options now available in store-bought barbecue sauce are enough to make your head spin. There are definitely some great ones available. But, if you are spending time learning how to cook like a champion pitmaster, why not elevate your sauce game too by making a homemade barbecue sauce.
Learning how to make barbecue sauce from scratch like a pro is actually easier than you may think. Plus, the most fun part is putting your own twist on the sauce, experimenting, and determining what flavor profile you like the best.
In this article, we’ll break down some necessary background info you need to know first. We’ll also give you a good starting point for making a barbecue sauce that you’ll be proud to show off.
If you are not sure where to start when it comes to how to make barbecue sauce, a good jumping-off point is to consider what type of meat you’ll be pairing it with.
Some flavor profiles pair better with certain types of meat. Remember, you want the flavors in your sauce to complement and enhance the meat. Not overpower or fight against it.
If you are grilling or smoking chicken, you can pair several different types of barbecue sauce depending on your taste preferences. Many people enjoy lighter, vinegar-based sauces with chicken. If you want to try a more unique sauce that pair deliciously with chicken, a mayo-based white sauce (like the Alabama White Sauce made famous at Big Bob Gibson’s in Northern Alabama) is a great option as well.
Source: The Daily Meal
When you are planning out what will go in your barbecue sauce, it is important to utilize several flavor profiles that balance and enhance each other to create a harmonious overall flavor. Of course, some sauces will lean heavier towards one flavor profile but will still have enough of other flavors to balance it.
The traditional flavor profiles found in barbecue sauce include:
Now that you understand how the flavor profiles play a factor in a well-balanced sauce, it’s time to focus on the base of your sauce first. Your base will help guide you in what and how much to add from the other flavor profiles. Most barbecue sauces start with a tomato base in some form. As we mentioned above, tomato is going to put you at a starting point of a tangy flavor.
Some popular choices for a tomato base include ketchup, tomato-based chili sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and pureed tomato. Ketchup is a popular choice for a base because it already has some spices built-in, as well as high sugar content which helps achieve a nice sticky glaze on your meat when it is cooked.
Of course, there are some regional style variations when it comes to barbecue sauce and your base may not be tomato at all. If you’re going for a traditional Carolina style sauce, you’ll start with a vinegar or mustard base. Or, as mentioned above, the Northern Alabama style sauce will start with a mayonnaise base.
Whether you are starting with a tomato, vinegar, mustard, or mayonnaise base, focus on your base’s flavor profile first and build out from there to complement it.
Source: Cooking Channel
One of the best parts about making barbecue sauce from scratch is that once you’ve combined the basic ingredients you have the opportunity to flex your culinary creativity. Those basic ingredients will get you started on hitting the essential flavor profiles. You can elevate and expand on flavors by using flavor boosters, herbs, and signature spices.
Now you have the knowledge of flavor profiles and how to build on the different flavors to create a great barbecue sauce. But, you may still be wondering exactly where to start once you’ve decided on a base.
This recipe below from Char-Broil is a simple, traditional tomato-based sauce that can give you a starting point. It touches on all of the traditional flavor profiles to give you a well-balanced overall flavor. From this recipe, you can modify it, add in different things, and get creative until you’ve made your own signature sauce built around your flavor preferences.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow sauce to cool before serving. Store refrigerated for up to 1 month.
So you’ve been mixing up your barbecue sauce and maybe now it tastes too salty, too sweet, or even too spicy. Don’t worry, you don’t have to throw the sauce out and start over. There are easy ways to correct it and still end up with a great tasting sauce.
As you can see, there’s more to making barbecue sauce like a pro than just throwing a bunch of ingredients together. It is important to understand the different flavor profiles, how they complement and enhance each other, and how they pair with different meats.
Learning how to make barbecue sauce can be just as fun as actually cooking the meat. It is also a time where you can show off your culinary creativity. There are many options for ingredients to use to end up with your own signature barbecue sauce that you’ll be proud to share with friends and family.
For tips on how and when to use your homemade barbecue sauce when you are doing your outdoor cooking, check out our other great article here.
This insider information and tips like we’ve covered above are the type of barbecue insight you’ll get from the award-winning pitmasters and grillmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy. You’ll learn step-by-step outdoor cooking techniques alongside insider secrets, all in stunning high-def 4K video. Check out our All-Access pass to get the full inside look.
When meat is cooked properly, you can often turn out a great-tasting flavor that speaks for itself. But sometimes you might want to add a little bit extra flavor to kick it up a notch.
With so many different options available to impart that flavor, from rubs to barbecue sauces to rib glazes, it’s easy to become a little overwhelmed with exactly how and when to use them. The key to flavor-infused meat is the careful application of rubs and sauces at the right time so that it doesn’t overpower the smoke and natural meat flavor.
In this article, we’ll break down some tips straight from champion pitmasters to help get the best results from using rubs, barbecue sauce, and glazes.
Sometimes, depending on what type of meat you are cooking, as well as your preferred tastes, a barbecue rub is a great way to impart additional flavor. Especially, for example, if you are a Memphis-style barbecue purist and like your ribs with a great dry rub. Or those Central Texas barbecue brisket fans will tell you all you need is a rub of salt and pepper and let the meat speak for itself.
Whether you are going with a pre-made rub, like, for example, the “What’s Your Beef” BBQ rub from our pitmaster Sterling Smith’s own Loot N' Booty BBQ or making your own rub, there are some dos and don’ts to follow to ensure you are enhancing the flavor.
Here are some rub specific tips:
Many people love a good barbecue sauce on the meat. But, to cook the meat properly with a sauce that flavors, and more importantly, compliments it beautifully takes some strategy and restraint. Whether you are smoking or grilling, to do it right, there’s a lot more to it than just slathering on the sauce and cooking.
Here are some tips specific to barbecue sauce:
Mops and glazes are also great options when it comes to adding a little more flavor to your meat. If you’re fairly new to outdoor cooking, these are things you may not have even heard of.
Source: Jess Pryles
A mop sauce is great for flavoring tougher cuts of meat that you are going to be cooking for long periods. These sauces are thinner than barbecue sauces and often made from vinegar, apple cider, or even beer. Mop sauces can be basted onto the meat every 20 minutes or so with a sauce mop or small brush to impart flavor throughout the cooking process.
Barbecue glazes are another great option for adding a little extra flavor. Compared to barbecue sauce and rubs, glazes are a more recent addition to the outdoor cooking scene. Often found in varieties known as Pepper Jellies and Rib Candy, like the ones from Craig’s Texas Pepper Jelly company, these are great ways to add a mix of sweet and spicy flavors.
Glazes, similar to mop sauces, work well being applied throughout the cooking process to impart additional flavor.
As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to adding a little extra flavor to your meat when cooking outdoors. Some pitmasters will argue their preferences in what to use for certain meats, but that’s what makes it fun. Don’t be afraid to experiment with using different things and discover your favorites.
Just make sure to use restraint and some of the strategies above and you’ll end up with great flavors that don’t overpower the meat.
Do you have a favorite type of barbecue sauce or rub for certain types of meat? Have you discovered some other helpful types when it comes to flavoring barbecue? Leave a comment below and let us know. We want to hear from you!
These insider tips like we covered above are the types of things you’ll learn from our Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in the online barbecue cooking classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. You’ll learn how to consistently cook contest-worthy barbecue in high-definition video step by step and have fun doing it. Check out our All-Access pass to get the full inside look.