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Spicy and tangy BBQ sauce recipe

Spicy and tangy BBQ sauce recipe

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  • Side dish
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  • BBQ sauce

This easy to make barbecue sauce originates from North Carolina. It's great as a marinade for all meats, but particularly pork. Try it out at your next summer barbecue.

65 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 2 litres approximately

  • 2 litres cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons crushed chillies
  • 150g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

MethodPrep:10min ›Extra time:3hr resting › Ready in:3hr10min

  1. In a large bowl, mix together cider vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper, crushed chillies, light brown soft sugar and hot pepper sauce. Stir until salt and dark brown soft sugar have dissolved. Cover and let stand at least 3 hours before using as a basting sauce or serving on meat.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(75)

Reviews in English (57)

by DECAR48

I made this sauce and let it sit for 24 hrs. Then I submerged a pork tenderloin in it for another 24 hrs in the refrigerator.I baked the pork with a small amount of sauce poured over it for 3 hrs at 325 degrees, covered, basting once an hr. Then I shredded the meat with 2 forks and poured the rest of the sauce over it, turned off the oven and when it was time to eat (about 1 1/2 hrs later)popped it on buns and ate heartily. Loved it! Nice & spicy!-28 Jul 2003


Thanks for the "real" Carolina BBQ sauce recipe. A friend makes this all the time, but says the recipe is an old family secret.-31 Mar 2001

by sugarmagnolia_fl

Wow! This was perfect! About 3 years ago, I had been to a family reunion in NC where there was a pig roast, and they served the pork with a delicious spicy vinegar dressing that I'd never tried before. Since then, I've had a craving for this sauce. I scaled the sauce by half and made last night. Today, I put a half picnic in my slow cooker all day while I was at work. I added about 1/4 cup of the sauce over the pork while cooking. After draining and shredding the pork, I mixed about 3/4 of the remainder of the sauce with the shredded pork. I served with some homemade cole slaw, homemade corn bread and baked beans and it was just great! Thanks so much. My search for a great Carolina BBQ recipe is over. Thanks so much!!-24 Oct 2006

  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (or white distilled)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons 14-spice dry rub mix (for recipe, go to
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Liquid Smoke

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Stir well. Over medium heat, bring to boil reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 60 minutes. Stir occasionally as it cooks. Store in refrigerator. Keeps for several weeks.

--Sweet and Tangy. Use the original recipe described above.
--Smoky. Add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke per 1 cup of sauce.
--Spicy. Add 1/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper per 1 cup of sauce (according to how much heat you want).
--Monica's favorite combo - very spicy with a hint of smoke. For each 1 cup of sauce, add 1 teaspoon cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke.

CAN IT: This recipe is suitable for water-process canning as long as you don't decrease the ratio of vinegar to other ingredients. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/4" head space. Process half and full pints for 20 minutes in boiling water canner.

We had a family discussion the other day about whether "barbecue" means a flavor (as in barbecue sauce) or a cooking method (referring to anything cooked on the grill). I think the answer is "both". But, that may depend on where you're from. Different regions use the term barbecue differently.

This post is about barbecue as a sauce flavor. What makes a good barbecue sauce is another area of hot debate from region to region across the United States. Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Texas, the Carolinas, and more. We all have different takes on what a real barbecue sauce is. Honestly, I like a lot of different kinds of barbecue sauces. The kind I use most often is commonly categorized as Kansas City Style. KC is known for a sweet and tangy tomato-based barbecue sauce. I like to use it as a base for adding some smoky and spicy flavors.

For years I bought bottled barbecue sauce. There are a lot of tasty ones out there. But, once I figured out how easy it is to make my own, I immediately vowed to never buy bottled sauce again. I can make my own in a jiffy, and that allows me to control the ingredients and avoid undesirable additives.

We're fans of ribs with barbecue sauce in our family. We also like pulled pork and chicken with barbecue sauce. Check out my post: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.

Today, I'm sharing my barbecue sauce recipe and 3 ways it can be adapted. You'll be able to easily customize this recipe to suit your taste. I use my 14-Spice Dry Rub Mix to season my sauce (explained in a previous post). With the spice mix on hand, it's a snap to make barbecue sauce.

Step-by-step photos for making Barbecue Sauce:

Assemble the ingredients. Dark brown sugar, vinegar (cider preferred, white will work), ketchup, cayenne pepper, honey, worcestershire sauce, prepared mustard (the yellow ball-park kind), 14-spice dry rub mix.

Add all ingredients to a saucepan.

Stir everything together, heat to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

Done! How easy is that? This makes a thick, sweet, and tangy sauce. The 14-spice dry rub mix gives it a complex combination of seasonings that is so good! If you have time, make the sauce a day or 2 ahead. It's gets better as the flavors meld. The sauce will keep in the fridge for at least 2 months.

Barbecue Sauce #1: Sweet and Tangy. This is the "original" recipe as described above. You can stop right there with a flavorful sauce, or use this as a base for making other versions. Read on.

Barbecue Sauce #2: Smoky. Take the original recipe and add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke for each cup of sauce. Careful not to overdo it. Liquid smoke is concentrated--it doesn't take much.

What is liquid smoke? I was a little hesitant to use liquid smoke, because I assumed it was made with artificial chemicals and probably not good for me. Turns out that if you use Wright's liquid smoke you're getting nothing but smoke infused water. There are other brands that have all kinds of additives and "unnatural" sounding ingredients. Wrights is recommended by Cook's Illustrated as the only brand that is all natural. Although it's not a perfect substitute for on-the-grill flavor, it's a good alternative when you can't grill. A bonus is that liquid smoke doesn't have the carcinogens that can be present in grilled food. Read more about liquid smoke here.

Barbecue Sauce #3: Spicy. Take the original recipe and add 1/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper per cup of sauce--the amount depends on just how spicy you want your sauce to be. You can also spice it up with a few hits of tabasco or a similar hot sauce. Diced jalapenos can be added, too.

Monica's favorite combo - very spicy with a hint of smoke. Here's my favorite version of the sauce: For each 1 cup of sauce, add 1 teaspoon cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke. (King-Man can't handle the heat. He gets the original version.)

Serving suggestion. When I'm serving barbecue sauce to guests, I like to divide up the original batch and make some of each of the three different kinds described above. That way guests can choose from a variety--just like at a barbecue restaurant. Condiment bottles are the easiest and tidiest way for guests to use the sauce. But, it can be spooned or poured on, too.

Downloadable tags. Here are tags you can download and print for labeling your barbecue sauces. If you only make one kind, there is a tag that says simply "barbecue sauce" that can be used. Click on the image below to download & print a single sheet with 4 of each of the tags:

To use the tags:

  • print on sticker paper, cut out, and adhere to a jar or condiment squeeze bottle.
  • print on card stock, cut out, punch a hole in the corner, tie with a string or ribbon to a jar or condiment squeeze bottle. Or, serve sauce in a mug or small pitcher and tie the tag to the handle.

Gift idea: Give one or more of these sauces along with other grilling supplies like a gloves, basting brush, tongs, spatula, grill brush, grilling cookbook, etc. Add a jar of 14-spice dry rub mix, too. Great for Father's Day!

NOTE: I got my condiment bottles at The Container Store. They're the only ones I've found that have both of these features: (1) a cover for the tip that stays attached to the bottle when you remove it, so it doesn't get lost and, (2) clear so you can see the contents. Three of these filled with three different barbecue sauces with tags make a fun gift. They're also very convenient for serving the sauce at home.

Can It. This recipe is suitable for water-process canning as long as you don't reduce the ratio of vinegar to other ingredients. Doubling the recipe makes enough for five 1/2-pint jars. It's great to have on hand for quick meals and homemade gifts. For canning instructions, see my post with Step-By-Step Canning Tips.

Even without going through the canning process, this sauce will keep in the fridge for several months.

Whether making one sauce, all three, or inventing a few of your own, you'll see how fast and easy it is to make your own barbecue sauce that's better than anything you can buy in a bottle.

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • The Peppers (and Veg). I&rsquom using a couple of medium-sized jalapeno peppers for this homemade barbecue sauce recipe for a nice level of heat. Try it with spicier peppers for some serious heat. I also use onion and garlic for flavor and body.
  • Tomato Sauce. Tomato sauce is key for the sauciness of the bbq sauce. Most recipes call for ketchup, which is totally fine to use, though ketchup usually has a lot of sugar, so be sure to adjust as needed.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple Cider Vinegar brings the tangy element to the sauce, and is sweeter than white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. This is a great flavor builder and perfect for homemade bbq sauce!
  • The Seasonings. I use cayenne pepper for extra heat and smoked paprika for a touch of smokey flavor, along with ground mustard and a touch of salt and pepper. You can try other seasonings to your preference. Feel free to experiment.
  • The Sweet. Honey and brown sugar are perfect for bringing in not only our sweet element for this bbq sauce, but also a nice touch of flavor. If you feel the sauce is too sweet, use one or the other, or cut back on both of them. Maple syrup is a nice substitution.
  • Bourbon. Bourbon carries oak and caramel flavors that translate wonderfully to the finished bbq sauce. This gives the sauce a distinctive finish.
  • Hot Sauce. Use your favorite! You&rsquoll get even more heat, which is what I love.

Best Odds Pulled Pork Sauce

This thin, vinegary sauce is added to smoked pulled pork in the tradition of the eastern Carolinas and can be used on pork while it smokes or added when the pork is pulled. The tangy combination of apple cider vinegar and spices builds flavor and keeps the meat moist, while the black pepper, paprika, and cayenne give a little bit of a kick. This minimalist sauce cuts through the fat and allows the naturally sweet pork to shine.

Cooks in 15 minutes and keeps in the fridge for 1 week.

What You’ll Need For The Pulled Pork

Pork butt (which is also sometimes called Boston butt) is misleadingly named it does not come from the rear end of the pig. Rather, it comes from the thicker, well-marbled upper shoulder. It is not to be confused with a picnic roast, which comes from the lower end of the shoulder and is a bit leaner.

Spicy and Tangy Keto BBQ Sauce Recipe

I love the tang you get from BBQ sauce, but it can be difficult and expensive to find a decent keto version. That’s why I love to use my homemade version!

⬇️ Read the full recipe with full nutrition breakdown of this Spicy and Tangy Keto BBQ Sauce ⬇️

½ cup reduced sugar ketchup
1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin

Nutrition Summary:
Per Tablespoon of sauce, it will be 10.36 Calories, 0.13g Fats, 1.69g Net Carbs, and 0.54g Protein.

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Get Back in Shape With This Healthy Low-Calorie Recipe

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Spicy Pineapple BBQ Sauce

About two years ago, I took up the challenge of making my own bbq sauce. After successfully putting together a recipe that I love, I decided to experiment with the recipe and I came up with this spicy pineapple bbq sauce.

I love how this sauce is the perfect blend between sweet, tangy and spicy. The sweetness comes from the sugar and pineapple juice. Although, the pineapple juice brings a hint of sweetness it also introduces the tanginess along with the lime juice. And finally, the spiciness comes from the scotch bonnet pepper.

The blend of flavors (sweet, tangy and spicy) made this bbq sauce the best one I have ever made up to this day.

I have nothing against buying bbq sauce in stores but you need to give the homemade version a try. Although, the store brought ones are convenient they are filled with unnecessary ingredients.

At least in this homemade version you can control the ingredients you put into it. You can always customize your sauce, the flavors of barbecue sauces are endless.


  • 1 C (175g) Light Brown Sugar*
  • 2/3 C (160) Apple Juice
  • 2/3 C (195g) Ketchup
  • 1/3 C (65g) Bourbon Whiskey (see note for gluten free)***
  • 3 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce vegetarian & vegan friendly, gluten free if needed
  • 2 tsp Adobo Sauce** look for gluten free if needed
  • 2 tsp Yellow Mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke optional but bumps up smokiness!
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco optional - to turn up the heat!



Made It? Be sure to leave a comment below! The most helpful comment may include recipe rating, feedback, any modifications and/or helping other commenters. On Instagram? Take a snap of your make and share, tagging @VanillaAndBean #VanillaAndBean!

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Paleo BBQ Sauce

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you), but all opinions are my own. You can find our full affiliate disclaimer here .

This Paleo BBQ Sauce is free of refined sugars and junky oils, and features 4 different renditions to customize to your tastes!

Here we are! Officially smack in the middle of spring and officially daydreaming of pool parties, margaritas, and BBQ. Are you with me?

I can see it now…it’s a leisurely, sunny Saturday afternoon. The weather is warm, the grill is hot, and the pool is inviting. Well, it’s inviting right up to the point where you dip your toe in for a temperature test and remember how you’re not 13 anymore and have no “just jump in the cold water” bravery to prove. You shake your toe off and rejoin your friends on the back patio to instead sip margaritas from sweaty glasses.

The conversation drifts from the latest Costco finds, to whether Stitch Fix actually worked out for you, finding a consensus on favorite new books, and finally to everyone’s thoughts on all-natural skincare.

Eventually, a late lunch/early dinner of grilled goodies, kale salad, veggies with Paleo ranch dressing, and sweet potato fries is laid out on a big “come help yourself” buffet.

You wonder over to the counter, fill your plate up with all kinds of colorful vegetables, grab your favorite cuts of meat, and then stop to carefully analyze which of the 5 different bottles of open BBQ sauce you will choose.

For as long as I can remember, there has never been a shortage of options or opinions when it comes to BBQ sauce. Having grown up in Texas, I was raised to prefer sauce that’s a little tangy, just a little bit sweet, and with deep rich, slightly spicy flavors that really highlight our prized smoky cuts of meats.

I have tasted, tested, and agonized over what makes up the perfect Paleo BBQ sauce. It’s taken years. Years, I say! This is not something to rush.

BBQ sauce from a bottle is, typically, loaded with refined oils and unnecessary sugars or other sweeteners. So, those are out.

Next, we turn to homemade renditions! I’ve seen some BBQ sauce recipes that take hours and more ingredients than I have letters in my name. Those are out, too. I don’t like complicated.

I put my recipe development hat on and got to work. It took a few batches, but what we have here is a Paleo BBQ sauce template that I’m really, really proud of. It’s got the perfect combination of tangy, sweet, smoky, and spicy. It’ll stand up to your steaks, pork chops, grill, oven, and toddlers.

That being said, I do have an appreciation for individual taste. Do you like your BBQ sauce on the tangier side? I’ve got you covered. How about with a noticeable sweetness? I’ve got directions for you, too! You like it with a kick? Good for you! Just make the adjustments I outlined below.

I hope you love this sauce as much as I do and have fun making it your own.

Like so many good things in this world, our recipe starts with butter. I prefer this grass-fed Kerrygold’s butter.

Measure out about 2 Tbl of the tasty deliciousness. Add it to a hot sauce pan.

Grab a bottle or a few cans of strained tomatoes. You’ll need about 24 ounces total. After the butter is melted and bubbly, add the tomatoes and turn the heat down to medium.

Next, let’s grab about 7 ounces of tomato paste. Add it to the strained tomatoes in the pan.

Pour in ½ cup of apple cider vinegar if you’re making the REGULAR sauce. If you want a TANGY sauce, add 1 cup.

Add 1/3 cup of coconut aminos.

Coconut aminos taste similar to soy sauce but they’re minus all the hormone-disrupting negative affects of soy! At least, that’s just one benefit they present over soy sauce. I could go on …but you’re probably hungry and just want some BBQ. We’ll save that discussion for another day!

Add in 1/3 cup of blackstrap molasses if you’re making the REGULAR sauce. If you want a SWEET sauce, add 1/3 honey cup in addition to the molasses. If you want a REALLY SWEET sauce, add 2/3 cup honey.

Now add 1 Tbl of garlic powder. And then add 1 Tbl of onion powder.

Chili powder is what turns this sauce from a “strangely tangy marinara” into BBQ sauce! While normal “chili powder” will work perfectly fine, if you can find Ancho powder, grab it. It will make your BBQ sauce sing! Add 1 Tbl to the sauce pan. Next, add 1 tsp of salt.

Then add 1 tsp of black pepper for REGULAR. Add 2 tsp for SPICY or 3 tsp for REALLY SPICY. Give it a thorough whisk and then let it come to a slight simmer for just a couple minutes. Take it off the heat, let it cool, then pour into jars!

This recipe makes about 4 cups of sauce. I like to pour them into two mason jars – one for immediate use and one for the freezer.

How to make homemade bbq sauce

  • Saute onion in a saucepan until softened.
  • Add jalapenos and garlic, saute until fragrant.
  • Whisk in apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, maple syrup, paprika, salt, chipotle chili powder, tomato paste, and orange juice.
  • Bring to a simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  • Strain the sauce and cool.

Memphis BBQ Mop Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 10 M
  • 35 M
  • Makes 24 (2-tbsp) servings

Ingredients US Metric

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1 /2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon natural hickory liquid smoke


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients except the liquid smoke and bring to a gentle boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.

Whisk in the liquid smoke until it’s incorporated and, if a mellower smoke presence is desired, simmer for a few minutes.

Let the sauce cool, transfer it to a jar, and refrigerate for up to a month. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.

To use the sauce, let it come to room temperature and “mop” it generously over anything you’re grilling during the final minutes over heat.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Hits all the notes you want in a BBQ sauce. It's very well balanced. Be patient, let it simmer slowly for the full 25 minutes, and you’ll be rewarded with a slightly thicker sauce with a tangy sweetness, a little spice, and just a hint of the smoky at the end. The combination of the spicy and the sweet with the vinegar adding a slight tang and finishes with the smokey flavor which balances it all.

Initially I was worried about the mustard. It seemed to overpower. As it cooked, it blended in better. Be sure to blend the liquid smoke carefully and let it cook a little longer (about 5 minutes or so). At the end of the cooking, I tested it again and the mustard didn't quite disappear in the background but it was a little too much. If I was to make this again, without the liquid smoke, I would use about half the mustard. Once, you add the liquid smoke, the mustard is no longer the first thing you taste. The spice in the mustard blends well with smoke.

This recipe was easy and most of the ingredients are pantry staples. The flavor is a nice combo of sweet and heat thanks to the brown sugar and liquid fire. It paired perfectly with chicken.

This was a perfectly delicious BBQ sauce. I think it's a real crowd pleaser, it has it all: sweet, spicy, tangy, salty. It delivered exactly what it promised. My husband is from Texas and is very particular about his sauce, his response was that he "didn't hate it." Which is about as big a compliment anything could get from him.

The timing on the sauce was perfect, I thickened it for 23 minutes. I used the sauce to glaze baby back ribs on the grill. It got sticky and amazing!

With its sweet heat and tang, this is a vinegar- and black pepper-forward BBQ sauce. The pepper gets you in the back of the throat. I might use slightly less black pepper next time. Thinner than your typical store-bought bottled sauce, it’s delicious drizzled over pulled pork, adding flavor and moisture to the meat. I’m going to use it to make an oven-baked BBQ chicken. It could be used as a basting sauce during the last minutes of cooking on the grill.

It has a good sugar content so be careful about it burning. I recommend using a non-reactive saucepan and stirring and scraping the sides of the pan with a heatproof spatula every few minutes while the sauce is simmering as it tends to thicken faster on the sides of the hot pan.


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