Sassy 2B Barbecue Sauce


Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I love anything that includes 2 of my favorite this case, bourbon and brown sugar. And this is one of my favorite barbecue sauces. It is made with crushed tomatoes and just a touch of ketchup for lighter, sassier sauce that is at home on anything you want to put it on. The secret to this sauce is a touch of cocoa that is whisked in at the end; it deepens the color and the flavor.

NotesGood for Slathering: Brisket, chicken, pork, ribs



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturesavory, sharp, sweet, tangy, tart, umami

Type of DishCondiments, barbecue sauce


  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • ½ cup bourbon, preferably Maker’s Mark
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup Heinz Chili Sauce
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Grilling Guru Rub
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the tomatoes, sugar, molasses, bourbon, ketchup, chili sauce, vinegars, and Worcestershire sauce, stirring after each additional ingredient to combine. Add the spice rub and simmer until the flavors have blended and the sauce has thickened somewhat, about 30 minutes.

  2. Let the sauce cool for about 10 minutes or until it is warm but no longer “boiling” hot. Puree using an immersion or traditional blender. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, if desired. Remember, the food will be seasoned as well, so don’t overseason the sauce. Add the cocoa powder and mix well to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes, and then stir again to make sure the cocoa powder is well distributed. Let cool. The sauce will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

  3. Brush it on food 5 to 15 minutes before the cooking time is finished. If desired, serve extra on the side.


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