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  • Writer's pictureScott Rotella

Sweet and Smoky Barbeque Sauce

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

I love all types of barbecue sauces, but this one is my favorite. It's a tomato-based sauce with brown sugar and molasses, and it goes with everything.

When developing this recipe, one goal was to NOT use ketchup as a base, like most homemade sauces. I make my own ketchup and really don't want to make ketchup every time I need to make barbecue sauce. Plus, I really do not want some of the spices from the ketchup in the barbeque sauce. The tomato base here is tomato paste. I always have tomato paste in my pantry as I regularly buy a case of the Kirkland brand from Costco.

I also use Applewood Smoked Salt instead of regular salt to add a smoky flavor. I also use smoked paprika to continue to strengthen the smoke flavor.

This recipe is simple and very fast to pull together. The short time on a stovetop is really to ensure the sugars are dissolved and the smoked paprika is fully hydrated. Paprika can be gritty unless it is fully hydrated.

Mix It Up

I encourage you to try this recipe the next time you need barbeque sauce. After you try this, get creative and use some of these “Mix It Up” ideas to change it up.

  • Add a little more tang and brightness with a tablespoon of lemon juice

  • Replace the brown sugar with Lakanto Golden to reduce both calories and added sugar. Or try honey or agave

  • Replace a ¼ cup of the water with bourbon

  • Increase the depth of flavor by adding a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar

  • Replace the worcestershire with coconut aminos to remove any wheat

  • Add a couple of teaspoons of your favorite barbeque rub

  • Add a little heat with a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce

  • Add some chipotles with the adobo sauce that has been well blended with an immersion blender

  • Add a teaspoon of hickory liquid smoke to amp up the BBQ flavor

  • Replace the pineapple juice with a can of peaches that has been pureed

What are your favorite flavors to mix it up?


  • For a thicker sauce, cook it for a longer period of time.

  • For a thinner sauce, add more water or pineapple juice.

  • Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.


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