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Homemade Bourbon BBQ Sauce Recipe

Smoky Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Smoky Bourbon BBQ Sauce is tangy, with smoky flavors, spicy and sweet! An easy, quick and totally mouthwatering BBQ sauce recipe for all your saucin' needs. This recipe is vegetarian + vegan + easily gluten free.
Course Component, Condiment
Cuisine American
Keyword BBQ Sauce From Scratch, BBQ Sauce Recipe, How to make BBQ Sauce, Whiskey BBQ Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 3/4 Cups
Calories 1379kcal
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean


  • 1 C (175g) Light Brown Sugar*
  • 2/3 C (160) Apple Juice
  • 2/3 C (195g) Ketchup
  • 1/3 C (65g) Bourbon Whiskey (see note for gluten free)***
  • 3 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce vegetarian & vegan friendly, gluten free if needed
  • 2 tsp Adobo Sauce** look for gluten free if needed
  • 2 tsp Yellow Mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke optional but bumps up smokiness!
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco optional - to turn up the heat!


  • In a small saucepot, whisk together the brown sugar, apple juice, ketchup, bourbon, vinegar, salt, worchestershire, adobo, and mustard together on medium-high heat. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat to medium-low and bring the sauce to a simmer. This sauce will boil over and make a mess if left to boil, so watch it closely.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes. Whisk as needed to incorporate all the ingredients. The sauce will start to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool. It will continue to thicken. Add the optional liquid smoke and tabasco. Adjust Tabasco heat to taste.
  • Store for up to two weeks in the refrigerator in a lidded container or up to six months in the freezer (be sure to leave at least a 1/2" head space if freezing). 


*1 C (158g) Coconut Sugar may be used instead of brown sugar in this recipe. However, the sauce will not be quite as thick, and it's a little less sweet.
**Find Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce in the Mexican ingredient section. It comes in a 7oz can. Look for gluten free if needed. The leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freezer for up to several months. 
***My homemade sauce contains bourbon. Opt to use what best fits your diet/needs whether a traditional bourbon/whiskey or a sorghum based whiskey, you can add more apple juice instead of bourbon or leave it out all together if preferred. Conflicting information remains regarding distilled spirits being okay to consume for some gluten free individuals, but may not be okay for all.
Recipe Adapted From Jamie Oliver's BBQ Sauce


Calories: 1379kcal | Carbohydrates: 294g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7229mg | Potassium: 1289mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 275g | Vitamin A: 820IU | Vitamin C: 13.4mg | Calcium: 283mg | Iron: 4.9mg