Smoky, tangy, and beautifully-glossy, Bacon Bourbon Barbecue Sauce is a delicious accompaniment to a variety of grilled dishes. It’s easy to prepare, too!
It’s been a crazy summer here at Striped Spatula! I know I’ve been sorely neglecting all of you, my wonderful readers and friends, and in very poor food blogger fashion, eating many a dinner without taking pictures (say it isn’t so!). My lack of posting certainly hasn’t been for a lack of interest. We had a family emergency earlier this summer, but thankfully, all is well now. Life has been settling back into a more normal schedule, and in turn, my camera has been itching for a workout. So, since we still have a few weeks left in grilling season before we roll into the days of Pumpkin Spice everything (I’m already seeing the advertisements, but my mind is hanging onto flip-flops and beaches as long as it can), I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes for barbecue sauce. More specifically, Bacon Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. Because, if you’re going to take a break from food writing, your first post back had better contain bacon, right?
Until a few years ago, barbecue sauce was always one of those supporting players that I bought prepared. I never thought to make it at home until I wanted to duplicate the flavors in a specialty bottle of Bacon-Black Pepper- Bourbon Barbecue Sauce I’d received in a gift basket. The sauce was incredible and I put it on almost everything until the bottle was empty. That’s when I looked on the back and realized that the 8-ounce oasis of deliciousness carried a price tag of…wait for it…$22. I love gourmet items as much as the next food enthusiast and have been known to lose myself in many a specialty market, but, yikes!
Once I realized how easy (and comparatively economical) it is to make a delicious barbecue sauce at home, I pretty much never looked back. Most recipes, mine included, have a fair number of ingredients to strike that great depth of flavor we all crave in a good sauce, but don’t let that turn you off. The process really couldn’t be easier. One pot, simmered gently on the stove for 30 minutes until thick and glossy, and you have a wonderful sauce that will rival the most specialty bottles on the shelves. It’s easy to adapt to your personal flavor preferences and you know everything that went into it (no tongue-twister ingredients, which is always a plus in my book).
The addition of Applewood Smoked Bacon in this particular sauce gives it a wonderful smoky flavor without overpowering the tang of the tomatoes, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. A deep, rounded sweetness comes from dark brown sugar and molasses, which plays well with the warm undertones of the bourbon. Like it spicy? Add a kick with chili powder, to taste (though, I’m such a spicy-food lightweight, the black pepper is usually enough for me!). Bacon Bourbon Barbecue Sauce is great on grilled chicken, burgers, ribs, and even salmon. By far, our favorite way to use it is on Grilled Meatball Subs (recipe photographed and coming this week, stay tuned!).
In exciting news for my little company: did you notice anything different about the Striped Spatula logo at the top of the page? Yes! That’s a registered trademark sign! As of July, the Striped Spatula® word mark (essentially, blogging brand name) and stylized logo became federally-registered trademarks of Striped Spatula, LLC. It was a process about eight months in the making, and I couldn’t be more excited to be taking the next step as a food writer and business owner. As always, I am so grateful to you, dear readers, for joining me on this very fun journey, and I’m excited to continue growing this site together!
Bacon Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Homemade BBQ Sauce is a cinch to make! If you prefer your sauce on the milder/sweeter side, omit the chili powder, or use only 1/2 teaspoon. For a sauce with a kick, add additional chili powder to taste.
- 4 ounces Applewood Smoked bacon, cut into a small dice
- 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 1 cup), chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons molasses (not Blackstrap)
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/2 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 - 2 teaspoons chili powder (optional), to taste
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- kosher salt
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving bacon fat in pan. Add chopped onions to bacon fat, reduce heat to medium, and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Scrape up bacon drippings from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as onions release their moisture. Add minced garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in remaining ingredients until combined, add reserved bacon, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (Stir more frequently toward the end as the sauce thickens to prevent scorching.) Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.*
Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or the freezer for up to 1 month.
*We love tasting the tiny bits of bacon in our barbecue sauce, but if you prefer a smooth texture, strain the sauce through a mesh sieve before serving, discarding the solids. You can puree the sauce/bacon after cooking, but it will result in a thicker texture, which, depending on use, might need to be loosened with a bit of water.