Who spiked the barbecue sauce?

Confession: I don’t really like barbecue sauce.

Weird, right? I know. I can remember Sunday lunches when my mom would make barbecued chicken in the oven, I never really ate it. It’s just not one those flavors I’m a fan of. I don’t even get barbecue sauce with chicken nuggets- Polynesian sauce, as I only eat Chic-fila nuggets, but I digress.

So yea, I don’t like barbecue sauce, unless it’s charred. There’s something about the smokiness from the grill that’s I can’t get enough of. I don’t even like drumsticks, but I’ll eat one if it’s basted with some good barbecue sauce and charred.

Making barbecue sauce from scratch can be a process; a process I wasn’t quite ready to handle for my first outdoor grilling experience during Memorial Weekend. I said to myself, “Self, you are not about to cook some barbecue sauce and you don’t even know if can figure out how to grill.” Luckily, I’m and amazing finagler in the kitchen. Semi-homemade, kitchen magician, doctored, or, as my mom would say, “zested up,” I love to buy basic items from the grocery store and putting my own twist on them.

The recipe is quite simple, and super economical, if you catch my drift. You can literally just throw it together.

  • 2 18oz bottles of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, the original and sweet and spicy flavors
  • 1 cup of your favorite Brandy, I used Christian Brothers since it was right there in the cabonet
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • A pinch of brown sugar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pour and mix both bottles of barbecue sauce into a bowl, then slowly add the Brandy while stirring. Add the minced garlic, then the garlic and onion powders. Add salt and pepper to taste.

At this point, your barbecue sauce can be done, but I wasn’t with mine. I thought the sauce wasn’t sweet enough for something coming out of a bottle labeled “sweet and spicy,” so I added a pinch of brown sugar, about half a teaspoon. Stirred that a bit, and my sauce was done!

Using a brush, baste the meat on the grill about midway through the grilling process: it will char, but not completely burn. I squeezed a fresh lime on the basted chicken as it was just about done. That tart flavor balances out the sweetness from the sugar and the spicy kick from the barbecue sauce, and gives you a refreshing bite each time.


  • A cup of Brandy: you won’t get drunk, I promise. The heat from the grill will cook off the alcohol. With that being said, feel free to use this barbecue sauce however you may like. ::wink wink::
  • Slowly adding the Brandy while stirring will help you gauge the consistency of your sauce. My sauce wasn’t too thin, but of course it wasn’t as thick as the sauce straight from the bottle. If you prefer a thicker sauce, I’d suggest buying another bottle of barbecue sauce (whichever flavor you’d like.) Here’s where the economical factor comes in: I paid 98¢ a bottle!
  • The added sugar makes for a nice caramelization on the meat once it starts to melt over the heat.
  • Be conscious of cross-contamination! I used the same brush throughout my cooking process, dipping it back and forth from the sauce to the not-so-cooked meat because I had no intention of using this batch of sauce again. If you know ahead of time that you won’t be using a full batch of sauce, you can easily store the excess in a tupperwear bowl or mason jar.

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