Sweet bourbon whiskey barbecue sauce

Sweet bourbon whiskey barbecue sauce*Notes about this recipe:

This barbecue sauce is naturally a little sweeter than some other barbecue sauces because it’s primary intention is to be coupled with hot serrano pepper chips on a burger which will in turn take some of that sweetness away. Also, the bourbon whiskey flavor is very subtle by default, so you will need to add more if there isn’t enough for your taste.

We have a cool section on this website all about different barbecue sauces. So if you’d like to check out some other barbecue sauces, here’s a link to that page on our site: The Everything Barbecue Sauce page

We figured a sweet barbecue sauce with a hint of whiskey would compliment the spicy serrano pepper chips that will top our up-and-coming burger creation, quite nicely. We felt that if there were to be any heat in this barbecue sauce it would just end up making a burger that’s overly spicy, which many people might not enjoy eating.

Although we don’t have a name for the burger quite yet, I’m sure it will be something epic. Think, Ultra Mega Whiskey Barbecue Bacon Beef Burger with 3 different types of cheese!

Okay maybe that’s a tad long and perhaps a little presumptuous on our part, but we’re confident it’s going to turn out well. I mean, how can you go wrong with a burger that features spicy serrano chips and a sweet bourbon whiskey barbecue sauce with undertones of hickory and a little extra brown sugar just because. It’s true, sweet and spicy compliment each other nicely.

Sweet bourbon whiskey barbecue sauce...and bourbon whiskey.

Sweet bourbon whiskey barbecue sauce…and bourbon whiskey!

Another thing to keep in mind, is that like many things tomato based, they taste better after staying in the refrigerator overnight, or even longer. So we recommend allowing this barbecue sauce to sit in the fridge overnight to truly bring out all the flavors.

While meant to be used with a recipe that makes four burgers, the recipe below makes much more barbecue sauce than you’ll probably ever need for one setting. I like to keep batches of homemade barbecue sauce on hand to use when I grill chicken or ribs. However this particular recipe is a little special in the fact that it’s meant for a more specific use then your more general barbecue sauce.

For that reason I will provide the regular ingredients as well as a halved version (if you don’t need so much barbecue sauce) of ingredients for simplicity’s sake.

Don’t worry too much about how small you mince the garlic and onion either. I would say, just dice them kind of small. Although they are an important part of the recipe, they end up being strained out and thrown away at the end. They’re there to add flavor not texture.

Sweet bourbon whiskey barbecue sauce with spicy serrano chips

Sweet bourbon whiskey barbecue sauce with spicy serrano chips…and bourbon whiskey!

Sweet Bourbon Whisky Barbecue Sauce

By: Semiserious Chefs
Serves: Makes about 3 cups of barbecue sauce, or 1 1/2 when the recipe is halved


  • 1 cup bourbon whiskey, or more to taste (If you’d prefer a different kind of whiskey, go for it)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (minced)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (hickory flavored)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Halved version:

  • 1/2 cup bourbon whiskey, or more to taste (If you’d prefer a different kind of whiskey, go for it)
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion (minced)
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon liquid smoke (hickory flavored)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat and add the whiskey, minced onion, and minced garlic. Once it comes to a simmer reduce heat a little until a gentle simmer is maintained. Leave uncovered and let this mixture gently simmer for roughly 7 -8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions will start to become clearer.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients to the sauce pan and stir well with a spatula until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Increase heat until it starts to simmer again, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once the barbecue sauce reaches a simmer, reduce heat until a gentle simmer can be maintained.
  5. Let this simmer uncovered for about 18 – 20 minutes. It should reduce somewhat and become thicker.
  6. Remove from heat and strain to remove the lumps of onion and garlic.
  7. Use on your favorite grilled foods as well as the “” burger.

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