So delicious, you might want to drink it! This robust honey bourbon BBQ sauce has just the right amounts of sweetness to boozy delight. My husband has made this for years, its one of his favorites he calls an all-star flavor. Amazing on ribs, chicken wings, pulled pork, jumbo prawns or porkchops. Highly recommended!
What you Need to Make It:
This sweet bourbon sauce is fairly easy to make, calling on a handful of common pantry items, along with a few seasonings. Dial up or down the cayenne pepper along with the bourbon depending on your taste preferences. Note that the final sauce will have some alcohol left in it, though most will cook off in the process.
Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce Ingredients
- bourbon whiskey
- dark brown sugar
- apple cider vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- smoked paprika
- onion powder
- ground black pepper
- cayenne pepper
How to Make Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce
Grab your favorite bottle of bourbon, maybe give it a taste to be sure. The rest of the ingredients should be easy to find. Lets go.
- Sauté the Aromatics: Heat a saucepan over medium heat and sauté minced garlic and onion until translucent and fragrant.
- Deglaze with Bourbon: Pour in the bourbon whiskey and simmer for 5 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to evaporate.
- Add Ingredients: Stir in ketchup, dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, onion powder, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt.
- Simmer: Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
- Adjust Seasoning: Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Add more cayenne pepper for extra heat or brown sugar or honey for sweetness.
- Cool and Blend: Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool slightly. Using a blender or immersion blender, blend until smooth.
- Cool Completely: Let the sauce cool completely before transferring it to a clean, airtight container.
- Chill: Refrigerate the Honey Bourbon BBQ sauce for 1-2 hours before use to let the flavors meld.
Why You’ll Love this Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Distinctive Bourbon Infusion: The addition of rich bourbon whiskey brings a true depth and complexity to this BBQ sauce, setting it apart from anything found in stores.
- Balanced Sweetness: The combination of brown sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar and ketchup strikes a balance between sweetness and tanginess, allowing the bourbon to shine.
- Customizable Heat: The touch of cayenne pepper allows you to tailor the level of spiciness to your liking.
- Versatile Sauce: Whether you’re glazing meats on the grill, drizzling it over sandwiches, tossing it with chicken wings or using it as a dipping sauce, this homemade Bourbon BBQ Sauce shows up and performs. Effortlessly enhancing a wide range of dishes.
Cooking Tips and Variations
- Use a Bourbon with Sweet Notes: Choose the best bourbon for the sauce, one with sweet notes that isn’t too bitter. If you’re not familiar with bourbons, my husband recommends Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey or Evan Williams Black.
- Marinade or Glaze: This sauce works amazing for either. Use as a marinade before grilling or as a finishing glaze for meats.
- Adjust Sweetness: By adding more brown sugar or honey for a sweeter sauce or reducing it for a tangier option.
- Smokier Sauce: We’ve made it in the past with 2 tablespoons of hickory liquid smoke. It gives it a really rustic, smoky touch if you looking for a deeper flavor.
- Drop the Cayenne for Hot Sauce: Do you have a favorite hot sauce you would love to feature in this BBQ sauce? Consider replacing the cayenne with your choice of hot sauces.
- Don’t Have any Bourbon?: Not to worry, you can try a Dark Rum or Cognac.
- No Booze?: If you’re looking for a alcohol-free BBQ sauce, check out my Wild Honey BBQ sauce here.
- No Dark Brown Sugar?: No worries, you can use 1/2 cup of white sugar along with 2 teaspoons of molasses in place of the 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar called for.
Homemade Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup bourbon whiskey
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ onion, minced
- 2 cups ketchup
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
Prep & Cook Onion and Garlic:
- Mince the garlic cloves and onion; the finer the better.
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat and sauté minced garlic and onion until translucent and fragrant.
- Deglaze the onion and garlic with the bourbon. Pour in the bourbon whiskey and simmer for 5 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to evaporate.
Add Remaining Ingredients:
- Stir in ketchup, dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, onion powder, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt.
- Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Add more cayenne pepper for extra heat or brown sugar or honey for sweetness.
Cool and Blend:
- Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool slightly. Using a blender or immersion blender, blend sauce until perfectly smooth.
- Let the sauce cool completely before transferring it to a clean, airtight container.
Chill and Store:
- Refrigerate the Honey Bourbon BBQ sauce for at least 1-2 hours before use (ideally overnight) to let the flavors meld.
- Store in a sealed airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for 4-6 months. Enjoy!