The perfect Texas-style BBQ sauce is a savory tomato or ketchup-based sauce with a kick of pepper. It features brown sugar, paprika, chili, pepper, salt, and a bunch of other wet ingredients.
As an experienced pitmaster, I have tried more than my fair share of sauces. Texas-style BBQ sauce has stood the test of time and pairs perfectly with bold proteins like brisket, chopped beef, and beef pot roast. Texas BBQ sauce elevates the beef flavor without overpowering the meat.
In this post, I tell you not only how to prep this mouth-watering sauce but also what makes it stand out from other sauces. I will also give you some tips to enhance the flavor of your sauce and how to properly store it. Walk with me:
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make a badass Central Texas BBQ sauce that will definitely take your BBQ game to the next level. Let's start with a list of the ingredients:
Armed with your ingredients, gather the tools you need. They include:
Go for a pan or pot that can hold around 2 quarts of liquid for this recipe. Also, make sure it has a lid since we have to simmer the sauce.
Depending on what you have on hand, grab your spatula or a wooden spoon to stir the sauce. I prefer using a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon since the sauce will not stick to it.
You will also need a stick blender or a whisk to beat the chunky bits of spices in the sauce into a smooth liquid with a uniform consistency. I use the Ovente Electric Immersion Blender. It is sleek, highly efficient, and reasonably priced.
Since this recipe makes enough sauce to accompany a whole packer and still has some leftovers, you will need a mason jar or an airtight container for storage.
My favorite thing about the world of BBQ is that you are the final judge of what you like. Nothing is set in stone. If you like a sweet sauce with your brisket slices, all you have to do is go easy on the pepper. If you like a runnier sauce as opposed to a thick one, just add more broth.
So let's talk about the variations of this Texas barbecue sauce and how you can tweak the ingredients to make it your own:
Butter is a necessary ingredient simply because we need to fry the onions. You can use salted or unsalted butter, olive oil, or sunflower oil. It depends on your preference. If you opt for salted butter, remember to reduce the amount of salt you use.
Broth provides the fluid medium that absorbs the spices. We also need it to simmer the sauce without burning it. I like beef broth because I like to pair this sauce with all my smoked beef recipes.
However, you can use any broth you have on hand. It could be vegetable broth or even chicken broth. A lot of people use water instead of broth but I find that it is less flavorful. So again, the decision is yours here.
I use white onions because they have a pleasant, savory flavor compared to red and yellow onions. When caramelized, they taste even sweeter. Great alternatives include shallots, leeks, and sweet onion.
Brown sugar serves 3 functions in this Texas-style BBQ sauce recipe:
However, if you are watching your nutrition calories, you can use either sugar or honey for this recipe instead of both. You can also use Now Light Agave Nectar as a sweetener for your Texas BBQ sauce.
Apple cider vinegar, made from fermented apples is sweeter than most types of vinegar but a little less sweeter than balsamic vinegar. It makes Texas BBQ sauce tangy but not sour.
Worcestershire sauce is the perfect condiment to strike that sweet-and-sour balance. It has something for all palettes: the sweetness of corn syrup or molasses, the acid in the vinegar and tamarind, salt from soy and anchovies, and spiced up with some onion, pepper, and garlic.
Solid options include ketchup, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and white wine vinegar.
I like to keep my recipes simple so for me, my go-to seasonings for a texas style BBQ sauce include kosher salt, black pepper, chili powder, and the wood-fired flavor of smoked paprika.
You can swap out some seasonings and replace them with your favorites. You could go with garlic powder, celery, cumin, nutmeg, and even cinnamon.
Having whipped up your Texas BBQ sauce, the look and aroma of the spice blend makes you wish you could save it forever, right? Well, you'll be glad to know that with proper care, this sauce stores quite well.
The remaining BBQ sauce goes into a clean airtight container. Pop this in the fridge to keep it fresh. Our homemade Texas BBQ sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you prefer to store it in the freezer, it will last for around 6 months. For bolder spice notes, I suggest using it within two months.
If by some chance your Texas BBQ sauce starts to spoil, there will be unmistakable signs like a pungent smell often accompanied by the growth of mold and changes in texture that lead to the separation of the ingredients in the container. Toss out the sauce if it gets to this point.
So how does the famous texas style BBQ sauce taste like? It is tangy and spicy with a little sweetness. It is not too sweet and it is not sour.
Unlike traditional BBQ sauce that is tomato-based featuring a few spices and seasonings, the Texas BBQ sauce takes it a step further by bringing together 3 flavor profiles. They are:
Texas-style BBQ sauce includes both brown sugar and honey in moderate amounts to keep it sweet but not too sweet. This is why I recommend the milder taste of light brown sugar as opposed to the more pronounced sweetness of dark brown sugar.
Tangy describes a sharp but pleasantly strong flavor. Emphasis on pleasant! If it is not pleasant, it is sour, which is not what we are going for in a Texas-style barbecue sauce. That's why we use tomato paste or tomato sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar. These ingredients have a sweet signature tang.
A texas style BBQ sauce recipe is not complete without the spices. Chili powder and pepper for the heat and smoked paprika that pairs wonderfully with smoked meat.
This delicate dance of 3 flavor profiles is what sets Texas-style barbecue sauce apart from all the other varieties of BBQ sauce. In my opinion, it covers all the bases.
Texas BBQ sauce is delicious and inviting. However, here are a few things you can do to make your sauce taste even better. They include:
Many people prefer to start by blending all the ingredients and then simmering the mix over medium heat. As much as this method still works, it does not bring out the taste of the mildly sweet taste of cooked onions.
I recommend lightly frying the onions in unsalted butter to caramelize them before adding any other ingredients. This makes a notable difference to the result so I'd say it's worth the few minutes.
Simmering is an important step in this recipe. Since this spice blend requires a generous amount of broth or water, it starts very thin and runny. Simmering allows the excess water to slowly evaporate, leaving you with a thick, flavor-packed sauce ready to hit the dining table.
Using a stick blender to even out the sauce makes for a smooth consistency and adds to the thickness of the Texas BBQ sauce. If you prefer a chunky sauce, you can opt to either beat your sauce slightly or not beat it at all. If you opt for the latter, I suggest you use finely chopped onions as opposed to diced onions since they are smaller and thus more toothsome.
Resting the sauce gives the spices enough time to blend, making the overall flavor more potent and the sauce a lot more aromatic. So it is best to give your sauce enough time before serving. I find letting the sauce sit overnight in the refrigerator makes for a great sauce the next day.
If like me you prefer a rich smokey flavor, go for smoked paprika over regular paprika and taste the difference. A lot of chefs use liquid smoke to impart a deep smokey flavor to the sauce. If that's your preference, I recommend Wright's Hickory Liquid Smoke since Hickory pairs well with bold beef dishes and is very affordable.
The Texas-style BBQ sauce is unique because it comprises 3 different flavor profiles in one dish which is no easy feat. Other sauces are usually tomato-based with a few spices and seasonings.
A Texas-style barbecue sauce is made unique by its specific blend of ingredients. They all serve a unique purpose in making this sauce what it is: sweet, tangy, and full of flavor. Additionally, it is rounded off with a little acidity in the form of lemon juice and that's why you can easily pick out Texas-style barbecue sauce from its counterparts.
The classic Central Texas BBQ sauce is a blend of tomato paste, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, broth, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, chili, honey, pepper, salt, and white onions caramelized in unsalted butter
It marries 3 profile flavors into one great sauce. Texas-style barbecue sauce is spicy, sweet, and tangy. A unique, bold, and layered sauce pretty much like the Lone Star state that birthed it. This is why I proclaim Texas BBQ sauce is a must-try the next time you plan to enjoy a family barbecue. You will not regret it!