Go-To BBQ Sauce: Smokey, Spicy, Tangy & Sweet


Creating a BBQ sauce recipe is basically asking for a culinary throwdown. With parts of our country owning different styles and declaring theirs as the best, I tread on hallowed ground. However, when I get a craving for BBQ, these are the ingredients that hit the flavor and taste points that I crave most, so after many requests for this sauce, I’ve finally dared to share my go-to BBQ sauce. 

a BBQ sauce recipe is basically asking for a culinary throwdown

4-Points BBQ Sauce: Smokey, Spicy, Tangy & Sweet

In this easy, quick sauce, you get a hint of acid (limes are great, but I’m using the pantry-ready vinegar option), a touch of tangy smokey heat from chipotles in adobo sauce (canned smoked jalapenos–another pantry item if you like heat), sweet and umami from ketchup plus smokey notes from paprika and liquid smoke).

And, yes, I’m also inviting a grammar controversy by going with “smokey” instead of “smoky”. I have a relative named Smokey, so maybe that’s why, plus in a grammar throwdown, “smokey” is now nearly as accepted as “smoky”–I know for sure, cuz I googled it.


1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (I like Wrights Natural Hickory Smoke)
2 cloves garlic, minced fine or grated on a microplane grater
½ cup of ketchup
2 teaspoons chipotle en adobo sauce (sauce or sauce and finely minced chilies)
1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari (a nice quality low-sodium soy sauce works also)
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Optional 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey if sauce has a bitter or sour edge

Steps4-Points BBQ Sauce: Smokey, Spicy, Tangy & Sweet

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the Worchestershire sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke, garlic, ketchup, chipotle, tamari and paprika.
  2. Slather onto whatever strikes your fancy.

BBQ Sauce Serving Ideas & Notes

  • This can be kept in a jar or covered container for 7 days without much noticeable flavor losses.
  • I like Wrights Natural Hickory Smoke because it’s simply water and liquid smoke (I have no association with this brand)

BBQ Grilling Tips for Delicious Veggies: The Sweet and Meaty Taste Science of Grilled Vegetables

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    About Me

    The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
    Michele Redmond

    Michele Redmond

    French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

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