Step up your summer grilling game with this homemade BBQ sauce! Spicy, smoky and complex with a boozy punch, this coffee-bourbon BBQ sauce perfectly complements any grilled meat. After one taste, I have no doubt this will become your new favorite BBQ sauce.
Sure, you can buy BBQ sauce in a jar, but why would you when a homemade BBQ sauce is way more flavorful, full of natural ingredients and super simple? For me, the flavor boost alone is worth making your own BBQ sauce, but when you throw in those additional perks, I can't justify buying it at the store.
Plus, you can control the seasoning to suit your taste, particularly for those who shy away from too much heat. Oh, and it's way more fun and satisfying to create your own sauce!
See? You have no reason not to try your hand at this from-scratch BBQ sauce. If you can simmer ingredients, you have all the skills necessary to make this boozy BBQ sauce.
How to Make
So let's go over just how easy the process is. We start by adding a can of tomato sauce and tomato paste, which is the base of our sauce, to a medium-size saucepan.
Now we give it a stir to make one cohesive mixture and then add our flavoring components. These include garlic, coffee, espresso powder, molasses, dark brown sugar, real maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, cumin, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder and salt. Yes, I know it's a long ingredient list, but I bet you already have most -- if not all -- of these ingredients in your pantry.
I like a spicy kick in my BBQ sauce, so I use a full tablespoon of chipotle chili powder. However, if you're sensitive to heat, add about a teaspoon at a time and season to your liking.
Now we let our mixture simmer to allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken. I find about 20 minutes does the trick.
After the sauce cooks, we turn off the heat, add our bourbon and enjoy on every piece of meat in sight.
What Kind of Bourbon for Boozy BBQ Sauce
As shown in the photos, I used Makers Mark for this bourbon BBQ sauce. I love that Makers Mark is a sweeter bourbon with vanilla and caramel notes, which is a nice contrast to the smoky spice. That said, you can use any bourbon of your choosing.
No matter the brand, I recommend using a type of bourbon you like to drink. Cheap bourbon is harsh and will come through in the sauce. I'm not saying to break the bank looking for a pricey bourbon. As long as it's tasty enough to drink, you'll be good to go.
How to Store and Serve
Once our coffee-bourbon BBQ sauce is ready, we want to keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. A mason jar works great.
However, before serving, I like to let the sauce come down to room temperature or spoon what I plan to use in a separate container and zap it in the microwave. The refrigeration chill naturally dilutes some flavors, so you'll miss out on the sauce's complexity if you serve while cold. This isn't much of a problem if you baste the sauce onto meat while grilling, but it is if you drizzle the sauce onto pulled pork or use as a dipper.
Also, if you plan to brush this BBQ sauce onto meat, pour a small amount in a separate container and brush from there. You can always add more if need be. If you brush the meat and then put the brush back into the jar of BBQ sauce, you could contaminate the entire batch.
How to Use
Of course, you can slather this coffee-bourbon BBQ sauce all over grilled meats, but that's not its only use. Here are a few ideas.
- Use as a pizza base, like my shrimp and avocado grilled naan pizza or pulled pork BBQ pizza
- Spread onto a smoked Gouda grilled cheese
- Combine with ranch dressing for salads
- Dress up your classic baked potato
- Serve with cocktail meatballs
- Cooked with baked beans
- Spoon onto tacos, quesadillas or tostadas
- Smothered on a burger or sliders
- Use as a dipping sauce for chicken strips
Considering that my flavor inspiration for this BBQ sauce came from Avery Brewing Tweak, a bourbon barrel-aged coffee imperial stout, it only makes sense to grab that same beer. If you can’t get your hands on Tweak, Oskar Blues Java Bourbon Barrel-Aged Ten FIDY is a good one or look for any similar offering from one of your local breweries.
If you’re in the mood for wine, I like a zinfandel for its fruity notes and peppery kick. Plus, it's bold enough to stand up to this complex sauce. However, if you plan on using this sauce on chicken, a pinot noir is a nice option.
Of course, if you want to stick with the bourbon theme, I have you covered with lots of cocktails. For something fruity to counter the spice, my cherry bourbon smash and blueberry bourbon smash are tasty options. Some warm spices would also make a good match, so feel free to pair this sauce with my apple cider old fashioned or chai-cranberry bourbon smash.
If you're ready to step up your grilling game, I hope you try this coffee-bourbon BBQ sauce. Please let me know how you enjoyed this homemade BBQ sauce recipe in the comment section and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. You can also catch me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Looking for More Backyard BBQ Recipes?
- Honey-sriracha BBQ sauce
- Jamaican jerk chicken
- Herbed bacon macaroni salad
- Herbed roasted potato salad
- Minted strawberry lemonade
Coffee-Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Medium-size saucepan
- 1 (15-ounce) tomato sauce can
- 1 (6-ounce) tomato paste can
- 3 garlic cloves grated or minced
- ¾ cup brewed coffee preferably dark roast
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup unsulphured molasses not blackstrap
- ¼ cup real maple syrup
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup bourbon
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the tomato sauce and paste until it become one cohesive mixture.
- Stir in the garlic, coffee, apple cider vinegar, molasses, maple syrup, dark brown sugar, chipotle chili powder, espresso powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, smoked paprika, cumin, onion powder and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the mixture slightly thickens, stirring often to prevent burning. If necessary, you can turn down the heat but maintain a simmer. Cooking time generally takes about 15-20 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Stir in bourbon. Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
- For the coffee, I mean an actual brewed cup of coffee, not coffee grounds.
- For full tips, please see blog post.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.