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American, Barbecue
Lemon Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce Default

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If you like your barbecue sauce sweet and smoky like they do in Kansas City, this condiment is for you. The lemon zest and juice add brassy notes of tartness, balancing the sweetness of the molasses and brown sugar. Were it not for the other delicious sauces in this book, I’d say that this suave, sweet, lemony slather is the only barbecue sauce you’d ever need.

Yield: Makes About 3 cups


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard (preferably Colman’s)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, mustard, onion powder, and pepper in a nonreactive saucepan and whisk to mix.

2. Gradually bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and let simmer until thick and flavorful, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice if necessary. Transfer the sauce to a bowl or clean jars and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the sauce, covered, until serving time; let it return to room temperature before using. The sauce can be refrigerated for several weeks.


The zest is the oil-rich outer rind of a citrus fruit. The easiest way to grate it is with a Microplane or the fine side of a box grater. Take care not to also remove the bitter white pith.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 48 servings.

23kcal (1%)
7mg (1%)
3mg (4%)
5mcg RAE (0%)
0mg (0%)
116mg (5%)
0g (0%)
0g (0%)
0mg (1%)

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