By: Chef Tim

When it comes to barbecue sauces, there are three types that you’d find on my dishes. You could call them basic – but they always seem to bring out the best of what I’ve got cooking on the grill.

My three favorites start with a basic ingredient — tomato, vinegar or mustard. While I always give you the ingredients, sauces are made to be your own! So feel free to experiment with my recipe. Once you are satisfied with the basic sauce recipe, by all means, alter it to your liking.

Please note: These sauces contain a lot of tomato or sugar. That means they are not good for use during the cooking stage of barbecuing as they burn too easily. I suggest these are best used as a marinade or just to finish off the meat before taking it off the grill.

Here they are:

Tomato-based BBQ Sauce

  • 1 can of regular tomato sauce
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • >2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 4 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste (coarsely ground)

Get a pan and cook the garlic and onion until soft — then add everything else. Simmer this on low for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently, then cool by refrigerating a few days before use. Now, taste it and give it a minute to settle into your taste buds. You might find altering the amounts of the ingredients will suit you better. Experiment! I do all the time. This is what makes cooking fun!

Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

  • 1 and one-half cups apple cider vinegar
  • one-half cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (But, I’ll be honest — I’m just not sure this is necessary.)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (I prefer the coarse grind.)

Put the brown sugar in the hot water and mix well until the sugar is dissolved. Add all the rest of the ingredients and heat on low for a few minutes. This is just to get everything mixed and at the same temperature. Note: Don’t wear a white shirt or blouse while eating this one!

Mustard-Based BBQ Sauce (and my all-time favorite!)

  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • one-third cup brown sugar
  • one-half cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional and lime would also work)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Mix everything in a sauce pan and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. This is the one I grew up on.

Finally, if you don’t have anything else in the kitchen you can make do with just a couple of ingredients. One simple one is honey and ketchup; another is honey and mustard. I told you, I experiment a lot!

Have fun!

Chef Tim reminds readers that consuming raw or uncooked food can be harmful to your health, and increase your chances of acquiring a foodborne illness.

Image courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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