Bourbon BBQ Sauce

For father’s day, I decided I wanted to make my dad some homemade BBQ sauce.  He’s so difficult to buy things for, so I’m usually safe making him food.  I remember in high school a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies would be completely acceptable for any gift-giving opportunity.


I decided on a recipe using bourbon, because well…bourbon is awesome.  And all that extra bourbon leftover to make Manhattans wasn’t bad.


Here is the recipe I used, adapted from Fork Knife Swoon, plus commentary

  • 1 medium sweet onion, minced (apparently Google says a medium onion is 1 cup. I hate when recipes call for a sm/md/lg of a vegetable. How am I supposed to know what you consider a small tomato or potato?)
  • 1.5 TBS garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS olive oil (or just swirl it around in your pot like a man, no measuring)
  • 6 oz. tomato paste (one of those tiny baby cans that feels weird opening with a can opener because it’s so small)
  • 1/4 c honey (I was so excited to use this local honey I bought a couple of weeks ago!  It was Wildflower honey from here)
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar (plus a little glug more)
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar (I used a little less since I didn’t want my BBQ sauce to be too sweet. Also, not packed, don’t forget that.  You don’t want the diabetes)
  • 1/4 c worcestershire sauce (plus a tablespoon or so more because I love that friggin stuff)
  • 1/2 c good bourbon whiskey (I used Bulleit brand because it’s one of my favorites and it comes in an awesome looking bottle with a cute little cork top at a reasonable price)

Sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil in a big pot over medium heat until onions are translucent.  Add some salt and pepper because you’re fancy.

Add the tomato paste and stir to combine and warm.

Throw in the rest of the ingredients in a mad dash before your onions burn and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to med-low and continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring every now and then to keep things nice and unburnt.  (The original recipe says you can simmer up to an hour, but I didn’t go past 30 minutes.  I felt like the liquid was evaporating too much, and 30 minutes made a good, slightly thick consistency for me).

Optional: After time’s up, use an immersion stick, food processor or blender to make the consistency a little smoother. (I used my food processor and it sort of worked.  I think it was more trouble than it’s worth.  An immersion stick would probably work better, and with less annoying clean up.)

Then I bottled the sauce in mason jars.  The smaller ones.  16 oz, I think?  This recipe makes a bit more than one jar’s worth, which I wish I’d known ahead of time, as the plan was to make two jars.  So I had to make the recipe a second time.  One jar for my dad and one jar for Lou’s dad!

To finish it all up, I tied a new basting brush to the jar.  That was a pain in the A.  Tape was the only saving grace to keep the brush from spinning around like a propeller.  The ribbon and rawhide ties are just for looks.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture.  So just imagine two mason jars with teal blue silicone basting brushes, awkwardly taped and tied off with blue ribbon and rawhide bows.  Then gingerly placed in red gift bags with tissue paper, cuz ain’t nobody got time for wrapping paper.