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Recipe File

Slow Simmered Spicy Barbeque Sauce

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There are many recipes for making barbeque sauces. Some are quick and simple - combining the primary flavors into a simple sauce or dipping and basting. Other recipes take a lot of time and produce a complex layering of flavors. Although the flavors may be complex, it's not necessary for the procedure to be complex. For example, this slow simmered recipe of mine is easy to throw together, requiring only the two or three hours to reduce the sauce to the desired thickness.

Start with 1/8 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 Tbs. mild molasses, 3/8 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/2 medium onion, chopped, 1/2 Tbs. chili powder, 1/2 Tbs. paprika, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 14 oz. can whole tomatoes, and 2 large garlic cloves, minced.

Heat two tablespoons of oil and add chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook until tender.

Putting the canned tomatoes aside, whisk the ingredients together and pour into the saucepan. Add the tomatoes with the juice in the can. Optionally, you can add 1/8 cup orange juice (or my favorite, pineapple juice) at this point. Stir over high heat until ingredients are integrated and begins to boil.

Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer uncovered. Simmer for two or more hours (stirring occassionally) until the sauce thickens to the desired level.

Although, the onions and tomatoes have probably disintegrated into the sauce, let the sauce cool a bit and pour into a bar blender for a quick puree.

This final barbecue sauce is rich and flavorful. I find that it start out with a sharp tangy flavor from the tomatoes followed by sweet molasses and punctuated with chili pepper spices at the end. Adding liquid smoke and other flavorings (or removing the spices) will tailor the sauce to your tastes.

Slow Simmered Spicy BBQ Sauce (makes about 16 oz.; recipe can be doubled)
2 Tbs. oilcook until tendercombine and bring to boilsimmer until reducedpuree
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchupwhisk
3/8 cup distilled white vinegar
1/8 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbs. mild molasses
1/2 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 Tbs. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
14 oz. can whole tomatoes
Copyright Michael Chu 2004
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Written by Michael Chu
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49 comments on Slow Simmered Spicy Barbeque Sauce:(Post a comment)

On March 08, 2006 at 08:10 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I love the site, but dont like the units. Well only the weight is a problem. How many oz on a kilo? (or grams on a oz).

On March 08, 2006 at 08:10 PM, an anonymous reader said...

Never leave home without it.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:11 PM, Michael Chu said...
14 oz. is about 400 grams. A great conversion tool is Google search engine. Just type in "1/8 cup in milliliters" or "14 oz. in grams" and it spits out the conversion.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:11 PM, an anonymous reader said...
If you substitute tomato paste for the ketchup, you will be leaving out all the MSG that ketchup makers hide in the ingredient called "natural flavors". Recommended.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:12 PM, Steve Troxel (guest) said...
I always spike my BBQ Sauce with a little bit of Ancho Peppers. Adds an earthy smokey mystic flavour.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:13 PM, eadmund (guest) said...
Re. Units

units is a GNU program which can perform about a hillion jillion different unit conversions (sadly, though, it doesn't do temperatures).

One should note, though, that standard units are better than French for cooking: scaling recipes is normally much simpler, and the units lend themselves to experimentation much more easily.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:13 PM, an anonymous reader said...
units does temperatures if you use tempF and tempC, eg:

You have: tempC(20)
You want: tempF

easy, isn't it :)

On March 08, 2006 at 08:14 PM, Adam (guest) said...
I just made this. I actually used Mrs. Butterworth's syrup instead the molasses (because... honestly... who has molasses?).

I used stewed 'Cajun Style' tomatoes (go w/ whats in the pantry... I hate going to the store) instead of whole tomatoes, and I think it added some nice flavor.

Anyways... this bbq sauce on the 'Faux BBQ Ribs'... whats ridiculously good.

Absolutely amazing. Simple and delicious... I honestly don't think I'll ever buy BBQ sauce again.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:15 PM, Jose Rizal (guest) said...
Man, I love cooking too. Thanks for this barbecue sauce recipe. Is it ok for me to share some of my different recipes? These are mostly Filipino food.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:15 PM, Michael Chu said...
Jose, I just started a community forum for this website at where you can post your recipes (along with cooking tips, general comments, and site requests).

On March 08, 2006 at 08:16 PM, uncle (guest) said...
i tend to put honey in (any you have but Greek is the best)

also the old standard worchester sauce.. works miracles .

On March 08, 2006 at 08:16 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Ok its over the top but has to be ultimate web tool for that sort of thing.


On March 08, 2006 at 08:16 PM, osueng02 (guest) said...
For an additional smokey kick to this sauce you can also try smoked paprika. It adds another layer to typically sweet and spicy sauces and rubs.

On March 08, 2006 at 08:17 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I was on a kick tonight... made dinner... cooked a batch of your limeade.. and finally had the stuff to make this. It was on. I'm a sucker for homemade anything... an in particular condiments... this stuff is good. I just cooked up a batch. It's a nice quantity. Enough to put in a squeeze bottle in the fridge and another bit to freeze for later use. It's a good sauce. I'd also like to try to make a sweeter sauce without the spice... something bold but a little more subtle... maybe a honey barbecue.... mmm... Not quite to a point where I can make this stuff up yet... but making stuff always helps. I used organic ketchup... heinz makes organic now and it works quite well and helps you miss the corn syrup and aforementioned "natural flavors". Anywho... good recipe as usual.

Question: How long do you all fathom this would keep for in a lided container in the fridge?

On March 08, 2006 at 08:17 PM, Michael Chu said...
re: refrigerator shelf life

I'd guess that the sauce will hold up in the refrigerator for about two weeks (unless you poured it in canning jars or vacuum sealed it)

On March 08, 2006 at 08:18 PM, an anonymous reader said...
anonymous wrote:
MSG that ketchup makers hide in the ingredient called "natural flavors"

This puzzled me as I believe there are people who are allergic to MSG so hiding it like this would be unsafe (and possibly illegal). So I did a search and came up with the following from the Heinz site:

Is there any hidden MSG in Heinz Products?
Any of our products that contain Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, would clearly state this ingredient on the label. There is no hidden MSG in Heinz products.

And the following from the Hunts site:

Q: Is there any MSG in Hunt's Tomato Products?
A: Hunt's products do not contain any added monosodium glutamate. [The answer goes on to mention a particular spaghetti sauce they make which is an exception]

So I'd say the whole "ketchup contains MSG" thing is an urban myth.

On March 08, 2006 at 11:53 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: MSG
While my sauce simmers, I just wanted to say thanks for the recipe. This is a very simple and basic recipe that be easily modified. There's nothing better than experimentation. Tonight I double the recipe, added liquid smoke and increase the tomatoes by 33%.

BTW, MSG is not a toxic or dangerous chemical as many people believe. THere is a very small percentage of people that are allergic or sensitive to MSG. MSG is the partially deprontonated form of glutamic acid, an amino acid found in relatively large amounts in our bodies. I believe the label statement "no MSG" makes people think MSG must be dangerous.

Back to the increasingly delicious sauce.

On May 11, 2006 at 05:06 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: MSG is dangerous!
Don't let the corrupted American food industry fool you. MSG is very dangerous and is put into foods to "trick" your brain into thinking the food tastes better. It is addictive and has been linked to causing obesity in Americans:

Check the labels, practically everything packaged has some form of MSG (hydrolized protein, maltodextrin, seasonings, etc.)

On May 13, 2006 at 08:03 PM, Yeah (guest) said...
Subject: Delicous
Made this recipe tonight added mangos... hope it turns out good.

on the MSG is tricking our brains... so does salt...


On May 19, 2006 at 02:49 PM, an anonymous reader said...
also, communists are putting floride in our drinking water, and stealing my thoughts. :lol: MSG is fine, it occurs naturally in alot of the foods you eat. Before you tell me why the manufactured kind is different and evil, I'll just add that I use the store bought kind (accent) all the time. The Japanese consider MSG a unique sixth flavor, they call 'umami' which would translate best as 'savory'. Or something to that effect. Back to the topic, my favorite BBQ sauce ic KC master piece, 'honey steakhouse' it's darn near impossible to find, so I'm gonny reverse engineer it. I'm comparing different recipes to my own 'experiments' and so, I thank you, uh whoever you are for you recipe. It will be assimilated. B)

On July 24, 2006 at 05:33 PM, Thor said...
Subject: MSG Eaten By Aliens
I enjoyed the article about msg. I also particularly enjoyed the article on the same website regarding the multiple sightings of ufo's over Santa Barbara. Good stuff.

For more discussion regarding msg and other flavor enhancing goodies, check out maltodextrin blues in the general food discussion forum.

I love to eat.

On November 01, 2006 at 11:36 AM, OG Triple (guest) said...
Subject: Ounces & Grams 101
28 grams per ounce
36 ounces in a kilo

On December 11, 2006 at 01:30 PM, Laurie (guest) said...
Ketchup does have the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, however.

On December 31, 2006 at 05:01 PM, Paul (guest) said...
Subject: a few things
1.) If you're like me and tend to add more garlic than a given recipe calls for, don't do it with this one. The amount called for suffices, trust me.

2.) Definately try other vinegars. I have used white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar in this, and it makes a big difference in the flavor.

3.) Try using tomato paste instead of ketchup, or organic ketchup. (Even Heinz offers organic ketchup now.) If you use tomato paste, you'll need to add a little more vinegar. You'd also want to add more brown sugar, or even better, up the molasses!

On January 09, 2007 at 04:53 PM, Guest Erin (guest) said...
Subject: To Thor, Anonymous, and Anonymous about MSG
Hey Thor, I responded to your "Maltodextrin Blues" forum.

Anonymous: MSG is only fine if you are not sensitive/allergic to it, and almost all people are sensitive to MSG when given a high enough dose (ie, one restaurant visit). Don't underestimate a good excitotoxin when you see one.

Yes, there are natural glutamic acids which are protein-bound, which our bodies deal with naturally and well. Breast milk, cow's milk, and tomato juice are great examples.

Then there are the processed, free glutamic acids, which trick the tongue, damage brain cells, and cause cravings and addictions. These can come from rice, corn, and more. This is the nefarious MonoSodiumGlutamate, aka autolyzed yeast extract, aka maltodextrin, aka natural flavorings, aka anything undisclosed on an ingredient label...

There is a significant distinction.

Just FYI.

Anonymous: thanks for the website. See more at Thor's forum.

Keep on cookin'!

On January 21, 2007 at 11:40 AM, hagerbmr (guest) said...
Subject: Few additions
This recipe is great.

I added a few things to suit my personal taste.

I doubled the recipe and added/changed the following:

-3/4 cup vinegar (use red wine or apple cider vinegar if you like tangy)
-2 tbs honey
-1/2 red 1/2 white onion
-2 tbs cayeene peppeer instead of paprika
-1 tbs Liquid Smoke
-3/4 tbs worchester sauce

With this varition, the BBQ sauce is a little sweeter with a a hotter bite to it. I don't reduce it that much (1 to 1 & 1/2 hours) and use it as my chicken wing sauce.

Chicken Wings -

Deep fry 5 lbs wings (can use normal pot filled with vegetable oil if you don't have a deep frier) remove when golden brown.

Place cooked wings in a crock pot on medium for 2-3 hrs (or as long as it takes to get everyone over for the football game) and add non-reduced BBQ sauce in pot.

For those that are health conscience, grill the wings for 5-10 minutes then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until crispy. Still great and lower fat!

On February 11, 2007 at 11:35 PM, Alex (guest) said...
Subject: Ketchup
Ketchup has high fructose corn syrup in general, but Del Monte brand doesn't and it costs the same.

On March 30, 2007 at 07:01 PM, JAS81 (guest) said...
Subject: BBQ Sauce
GREAT SAUCE! Many thanks....added a small amount of liquid smoke and lime juice...really, really good!

On April 05, 2007 at 10:45 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Great Site
Great site and i really like how you do those instructions. It looks like something an engineer would come up with only its useable by the non engineering comunity as well. I recomend this site as well for

On June 28, 2007 at 08:46 PM, moni (guest) said...
Subject: Awesome Recipe Michael!
A neighborhood Soul Food joint went out of business in my area recently and I've been experiencing terrible withdrawal symptoms from their signature Hot BBQ Sauce.

A google search lead me to your site. ;-)

The flavors from their sauce that made it so distinctive were, habanero, bourbon, and citrus.

I doubled your recipe and added one finely minced habanero chile, about 1/2-cup of Kentucky bourbon (don't worry, the booze mostly evaporated in the reduction phase), the zest of an orange (and a squeeze of the juice). I also added the dash of (opt.) liquid smoke.

I served it with Grilled Chicken and garnished it with some freshly chopped cilantro. It was AMAZING!

I'll be checking out more of your recipes. Thanks!

On December 03, 2007 at 08:34 PM, anon (guest) said...
Subject: Fresh tomatoes
if i am to use fresh tomatoes instead of the canned one, abt how many/much tomatoes do i need ? and do i need to adjust the amt of sugar/molasses ?


On December 11, 2007 at 11:46 PM, MR. ANNONYMOUS (guest) said...
Subject: even better
great recipe. love it. i am going to tell everyone who loves extremely spicy sauce a great tip. use this recipe, except add 4 habanero peppers and instead of molasses add honey.

On January 23, 2008 at 02:34 PM, Anonymous37 (guest) said...
Subject: MSG
MSG is dangerous. It kills brain cells even in people who are not "allergic" and is used as an appetite stimulant so we will eat more and it is hidden inside other ingredients that are used. If it is a prepackaged food, such as mac and cheese, or taco seasoning, or soup, ranch dressing, etc, there will be MSG in it even if it is hidden in another ingredient. Do some research and you will find this out. The only people benefiting from the use of MSG are the fast food industry and the weight loss industry.

On January 23, 2008 at 10:25 PM, Howard said...
You're the one who's got something to prove; why don't YOU do the legwork?

On June 29, 2008 at 11:07 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Well everyday Sunlight gives you cancer! And how many of you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol? I think I'm probably gonna die one day! Not sure though :) It's all a scam! Enjoy your life eat tasty BBQ sauce like this! I DO! We are one of the only cultures that fears our own inevitable demise. It's gonna happen! I like the way MSG tastes!. Just go outside every once in awhile and do something active! OH yeah smoke some WEED too!

On July 18, 2008 at 07:25 PM, Maggidew said...
Thanks for the sauce recipe in particular and the site in general! I am not an engineer, that was not an option for 'girls' when I was in school, but I do enjoy trying out the recipes.

I also enjoy the spirited discussion. Regarding MSG, both my sister and I have noticed strange after-effects when we consume foods that have additional MSG. I stay away from it as an additive to foods and prefer for myself to go with totally 'from scratch' ingredients.

I understand the growing concerns about processed foods and I choose to use as many unprocessed, natural and organically grown foods as possible within my budgetary limitations. That's a choice everyone makes for themselves every day, whether it is in relation to food, or smoking, or sun exposure or any of the 'dangers' in this modern world.


On April 25, 2009 at 12:41 AM, Frank (guest) said...
Subject: Awesome!
Great sauce recipe I can't wait to try!!

And, sorry guys, but I have to say this: Americans who come here and complain about the international units for weights and measurements, well, you know: GET A LIFE! In case you hadn't noticed, you're the odd ones out in the world, so don't expect everyone to convert the units for you. If you haven't entered the new millennium, but are stuck back in the 1930's or something, then deal with it!

Massive congrats go to those American who post their recipes using international measurements!

On May 02, 2009 at 06:50 PM, AK (guest) said...
Subject: Thanks
Great starter base. Doubled up the recipe, I tossed in a tbs of all spice, 1/2 tbs of cayenne, 1 tbs of lemon juice, 1 tbs of fresh ground horseradish root, 1 tbs of cumin, a dash of celery root and 2 tbs of honey. Caramelized the heck out of the onions and garlic.

BTW - "Frank" - the recipe was in American untis, guessing that the other posts were trying to convert to metric. Gimme a break.

On August 27, 2009 at 08:21 PM, c good (guest) said...
Subject: del monte ketchup
I recently had a discussion about HFCS with a friend in the food business. I stated that Del Monte Ketchup contains corn syrup, but not high fructose corn syrup. She insisted that most corn syrup used in manufacturing contains HFCS and that Del Monte and many other manufacturers are just putting "corn syrup" on their labels to avoid negative feelings about "high fructose corn syrup". Any comments?

On December 04, 2009 at 09:55 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: A little spicier version...
This makes a great base on which to build.
I didn't have any paprika so I substituted cayenne.
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce.
1/4 (-ish) cup of honey.
1/4 cup bourbon.
1/2 tsp ground Bhut Jolokia chili (aka Ghost Chili)

VERY nice heat, sweet and spicy.

On July 03, 2010 at 08:51 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Making this sauce now!
making it now, and its filling the house with a fantastic scent. Tomorrow (the 4th) i'm going to be putting it on the ribs I'm making using your rub too. Can't wait! thank you very much!

On July 26, 2010 at 01:18 PM, Marinevet87 (guest) said...
Subject: sauce right on the grill
Use a similar mix of ingrediants but I do it in a small 8 inch cast iron skillet on the Weber gas grill before I cook the chicken or beef on same. Turn off the middle burner and place the sauce filled pan off to the side. If I add wood chips, the sauce picks up the smoke flavor. I add a bit of beer or wine (whatever I'm drinking while cooking) to keep the right liquid level to keep it from scorching.

On July 26, 2010 at 08:43 PM, Brucey (guest) said...
I found that it was too tangy with both the ketchup and vinegar.
I'll probably try cutting the quantity of both next time to 75% of that in the recipe and add a splash of worcesershire sauce.

Also, make sure to puree it well, any tomato chunks in there kind of spoil the flavour when eating.

On August 19, 2010 at 07:05 PM, dawnmcmd (guest) said...
Subject: Slow Simmered Spicy Barbeque Sauce
I was wondering if anyone knows if this sauce is suitable for canning? Thanks!!

On May 30, 2011 at 09:29 AM, Jill (guest) said...
Subject: Great sauce as is
Thanks for once again keeping it clear and simple and delish. I used apple cider vinegar instead of white and cut back a little on the chili since I use berbere but all in all, I think the proportions are just right. Never buying sauce again.

On March 20, 2012 at 07:35 PM, Proaudio150 (guest) said...
Subject: Natural Flavors as defined by FDA
First off MSG MUST be clearly stated in ingredients.

On August 16, 2012 at 03:53 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: water water water!
he he this was my first attempt at a BBQ sauce and it was AWESOME! I never liked bottled BBQ sauce and this was so easy and so yummy. I doubled the recipe so I have heaps and used 3 tablespoons of honey instead of Molasses. The only thing is it was SO super hot and this is from someone who has a high tolerance for spicy.

A tip for the Australians who try this. I found out that Chilli powder in America is different and less hot than Chilli powder in Australia which is straight pure Chilli powder. In all fairness I also added hot paprika instead of standard paprika so there's two factors raising the hotness level already. Next time (pretty soon so I have a milder Sauce) I'm going to just go with 1 teaspoon of chilli powder instead of 1 tablespoon and if I want it spicier I can tweak it. Too wasy to smooth out with the stick blender after it cooled and it was just the perfect thickness. Will be a great sauce to add to bolognese and other dishes for delicious flavour and some kick.

On November 11, 2020 at 05:30 AM, rsneha said...
Anonymous wrote:
I love the site, but dont like the units. Well only the weight is a problem. How many oz on a kilo? (or grams on a oz).

Try this site :

On November 11, 2020 at 12:41 PM, Dilbert said...
weights are extremely easy to convert,
volumes are extremely easy to convert,

several thousands of sites that will do that.

where it gets sticky is converting volumes (like cups - used in US and others) to weight - used in most other countries....

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