From-Scratch Sweet & Tangy Barbecue Sauce

By: Donna Currie

  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Cuisine: American
  • Course: Condiment


  • 2 pounds tomatoes, (equals 4 cups juice/pulp)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic* or sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 large red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 2 1/2 pound prepared Pork Shoulder Roast, for serving (optional)


  1. The Juicer Method: The easiest way to deal with the fresh tomatoes is by using a juicer to extract the pulp and juice from the tomatoes, while leaving the seeds and skin behind. There's no need to peel or core them first; just cut in chunks to fit your juicer's feed tube, and process. If you have a choice of juicing settings, use the one that extracts the most pulp - you're looking to end up discarding just the pulp and seeds. If your juicer wants to discard some of that really good tomato pulp, you can run that pulp through the juicer again, to make sure you’re not getting rid of any of the good stuff.
  2. If you don't have a juicer, you can blanch and peel the tomatoes, then cook them until soft and use a food mill puree them and remove the seeds. Or, pass them through a strainer after they’re cooked, if you don't have a food mill. The point is to end up with pure tomato pulp and juice, while leaving the skins and seeds behind.
  3. Put the tomato juice/pulp mixture into a large saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and cook on low until the mixture has reduced by about a third of its original volume and the vegetables are very soft – about 30 minutes. Use a stick blender to puree all the ingredients.
  4. Or, if you don't have a stick blender, transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender (puree in small batches in the blender to avoid having the blender lid blow off) and blend until smooth. Transfer back to the pot and continue cooking at a simmer until the mixture is very thick – like a typical barbecue sauce. How long this takes can vary depending on the amount of water in your tomatoes, the pan you're using, and how vigorously you're allowing it to simmer. Figure about an hour, and stir as needed to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. When it's close to being done, taste and adjust seasonings and tartness. Add salt, if needed, or more vinegar or sugar if you prefer a more tart or more sweet sauce. You should end up with about a quart of sauce when you're done.
  6. Transfer to a storage container (a quart canning jar is good) and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Serve with Pork Shoulder Roast.