• Yield: 8 cups, keeps refrigerated up to 2 weeks

  • Time: 20 minutes prep, 50-60 minutes cooking, About 1 hour 10 min total

Once you have tasted a homemade version of classic American BBQ sauce, you will never go back. Most BBQ sauces are essentially a simmered tomato sauce, redolent with spices and vinegar and given the sticky lip-smacking addition of something sweet. A small amount of prep brings this sauce together in a snap. Riff off it however you please. Maybe you’ll end up bottling your own.


  • Canola oil

  • 2 medium onions, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice

  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika

  • 1 cup pineapple juice

  • 1 cup cider vinegar

  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, puréed

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1-1/3 cups (packed) dark brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/4 cup grainy dark mustard

  • 1/2 cup molasses

  • 1 stick unsalted butter


1. Coat the bottom of a 6-quart pot with a thin film of oil. Set it over medium-high heat and sauté the onions with the salt until they are golden brown. Stir in the garlic, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, paprika, pineapple juice, and cider vinegar. Cook down to just a thick glaze on the bottom of the pan.

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, Tabasco, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, and butter. Cook at a slow bubble, uncovered, for 50 minutes, or until thick. Taste for seasoning. Remove the cinnamon stick and store or use.

From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.

Sally Swift
Sally Swift is the managing producer and co-creator of The Splendid Table. Before developing the show, she worked in film, video and television, including stints at Twin Cities Public Television, Paisley Park, and Comic Relief with Billy Crystal. She also survived a stint as segment producer on The Jenny Jones Show.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.