Texas-Style BBQ Sauce

Two things are on and popping in my house these days:  the Olympics and barbeque sauce. Not necessarily in that order. Occasionally at the same time.

And as with anything that’s trending in the Bakes household, both are frequently accompanied by vigorous debate as to the proper way to get things done.

With the Olympics it’s a question of event watching management (I’m all about women’s gymnastics, A.’s more of a track and field guy).

With the barbeque sauce it’s a question of sweet Kansas City-style versus vinegar-based Carolina sauce (I’m all about the tart vinegar, A. likes the sugary sweet).

Today, we’re keeping everyone happy with some Texas-style ‘cue sauce and an evening of Olympic water polo-watching.

It’s sort of a natural to settle on a Texas-style barbeque sauce, since it really offers the best of both BBQ worlds:  Lone Star ‘cue sauce is not too tomato-y and not too vinegar-y. It’s also marked by a thin, thin consistency, which makes for really easy mopping all over whatever it is that you’re grilling, roasting, broiling or baking.

Basically, Texas-style barbecue sauce is the delicious compromise that’s going to keep the peace between your KC peeps and your NC bros at your next backyard BBQ.

And don’t you dare skip the straining step. You may be tempted – it takes a muscle or two and you’re going to want to put your back into it. But passing this sauce through a fine mesh sieve is important not just to achieve the trademark Texas thin consistency, but it also brings the flavors together in a really important way. Plus you’ll strain out any stray lemon seeds and/or chile pieces that may have found their way into your sauce.

Now, unfortunately, I can’t help you with your Olympic viewing disagreements. I would suggest throwing some barbecue on the grill, whipping up some Texas-style sauce to put on top, and resigning yourself to an Olympic badminton match or two. You can get through anything with a plate of saucy barbecue in your hand.

Texas-Style BBQ Sauce

1 c. light beer (I used Natural Light brand beer here but you can substitute any light beer. Just keep it light – you don’t want to be throwing any Guinness into this sauce.)
1 c. tomato paste
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. adobo sauce (I strained this off from a can of chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce, which you can find in pretty much any major grocery store. Keep the chiles for use in your next dish du jour.)
1/4 c. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 c. light brown sugar, tightly packed
2 tbsp. granulated onion
2 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. cumin, ground
1 tbsp. ancho chile, ground
1 tbsp. Tabasco

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is fragrant and has thickened slightly.

Remove cooked sauce from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve. Bottle and use immediately or store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.

YIELD:  approximately 16 fl. oz.


  1. 9

    Jake says

    Just followed this recipe to the T and am very pleased with the result. A lot going on in the sauce, hot, sweet, savory, tangy…mmm mmm. Going to serve it tonight with some dryrub oven ribs. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 4


    Can’t wait for my hubs to try this one – he is a fool for BBQ sauce. But we usually keep it KC style (since we live in KC.) And I love that you used Natural Light…it literally takes me waaaay back! :)

  3. 3

    Katie says

    Eh, you forgot the hot debate in NC, East Carolina or West Carolina BBQ? East Carolina is whole hog and chopped. West Carolina is pork shoulder and pulled and (here is the heresy) uses ketchup instead of just vinegar, salt, red and black pepper. It goes without saying that the pig must be cooked over hickory and served with coleslaw.

    Now in South Carolina I hear tell of an even worse heresy then ketchup in their BBQ sauce, (lowers voice to a whisper) they use mustard, beer and brown sugar. Can you believe it?

  4. 1


    Barbecue sauce is probably my favorite condiment to make at home–so much punch for so little effort! I usually just use the standard Joy of Cooking recipe, but your version sounds like an even more excellent way to kick up the flavor. Thanks!

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