Good barbecue requires a healthy cut of meat and a great spice rub, but for some, it all comes down to the sauce. That smokey meat isn’t complete until it’s slathered in a sticky, finger-licking sauce. 

There are a plethora of big name brand sauces out there, but why not kick your cooking up a notch this summer and make your own mix? The base of BBQ starts with a tomato paste or even ketchup and usually includes Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, or other spices — all ingredients you likely already have stocked at your house. 

You can get fancy with it and add things like maple syrup, whiskey, bacon, Dr. Pepper or cherries to make a customized blend that will blow your taste buds away. Bottle up your new culinary creativity and give as gifts to friends for summer gatherings. 

Here are two BBQ recipes to get you started: 

Texas-Style BBQ Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder

In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer. Leave saucepan uncovered and simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow mixture to reduce and flavors to blend. 

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

Makes about 4 1/2 cups

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeńo pepper, minced (seeds removed for less heat)
  • 32 ounces of Heinz ketchup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

In a large saucepan on medium heat, pour olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeńo and sauce until tender or about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.