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Homemade Red-Eye Barbecue Sauce Recipe

This is a very good barbecue sauce that you can make at home in under an hour. If you want make sure that you know EVERY ingredient in your food, then here you go. Barbecue sauce recipes that contain ketchup, worcestershire or the worst one I've seen, "STORE BOUGHT BARBECUE SAUCE" are indefensible. This recipe is basic, and can be easily modified as desired. For instance, if you want a spicier sauce, cut the brown sugar in half and add more heat. if you like it tangier, reduce the sweet ingredients and increase the vinegar, etc...


  • 2 to 3 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (optional) Adds saltiness and complexity
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso.
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon sue spice, or chile pequin
  • *1 tablespoon of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon arrow root thickening agent (optional) substitute cornstarch if desired. Members of my family are allergic to corn, so I use arrow root.

Other fun, experimental options:

  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Fennel
  • Balsamic Vinegar


  1. Saute garlic and onion in bacon fat until the garlic is golden and the onions are just getting translucent.
  2. Add all other ingredients (except arrow root) and stir to combine.
  3. Simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle in the blender.
  5. Whiz the mixture in small batches in the blender on high, until completely liquified. Add in the arrowroot or cornstarch to the blender, a little in each blender batch. 

Makes about two quarts of finished sauce. The sauce will not last long in the refrigerator, since it has no preservatives in it. Refrigerate what you expect to use in the next week, and freeze the rest. I usually freeze it in one or two-cup packages with my Food-Saver sucky bag machine.  

* If you are smoking and have room in the smoker, leave out the liquid smoke, and the thickener. Pour the finished sauce into a large, shallow cake pan and place it in the smoker for a couple of hours. The sauce will pick up the smoke and get a great, natural smoky flavor that will match the meat. The larger the surface area of the sauce, the more smoke flavor it will pick up. 

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