My husband loves barbecue sauce. It is his favorite accompaniment to this simple grilled chicken that is a summertime staple in our house. However, I stopped making homemade barbecue sauce when we reduced the amount of added sugar we eat. Instead, I started making other sauces with no added sugar (like this lemon tahini dressing).
But sometimes you just want an favorite meal. So I decided to re-work my homemade barbecue sauce recipe. That meant reducing the overall amount of added sugar. And replacing the refined sugar with honey (or maple syrup if you prefer or want the recipe to be vegan).
There was one other problem with my homemade barbecue sauce recipe, and it had nothing to do with ingredients. The sauce required simmering for multiple hours on the stove. That is fine in the fall or winter, but during summer in North Carolina, it is ridiculous to cook something for hours when it is 90+ degrees outside. Thank goodness for this month’s The Recipe Redux’s challenge! We were challenged to “keep the kitchen cool” using a slow cooker, instant pot, or pressure cooker.
The first few attempts at this lower-in-added-sugar barbecue sauce were a little, well, tart. To balance out the flavors, I reduced the amount of apple cider vinegar and added in some oranges (whole oranges – not just the juice). The result was a sweet, tangy, and flavorful barbecue sauce.
This homemade barbecue sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator or two months in the freezer. The recipe makes about six cups of sauce, so I store the excess in the freezer for future meals. However, if this is just too much barbecue sauce for you, the recipe can easily be halved.
- 2 28-ounce cans tomatoes*
- 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 orange, peeled
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Add all ingredients to slow cooker
- Blend with immersion blender
- Cook for 12 hours on high heat, stirring periodically, with lid open slightly to allow for evaporation
*Note: I choose to purchase organic tomatoes. Read more on pesticides and produce.
There was another benefit of using a slow cooker over the stove-top simmer method. Much easier clean-up! No matter how much I stir the stove-top version of a homemade barbecue sauce, it always sticks to the bottom of my pot. At best, that can lead to a super messy clean-up. At worst, a burnt bottom sauce that is a little too “smokey” to keep. Even though it takes longer, I definitely prefer the slow cooker method!
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Check out the other “keep the kitchen cool” recipes my fellow Recipe Redux Members are cooking up…