Sauces and Seasonings

Easy Bourbon BBQ Sauce

This simple homemade bourbon BBQ sauce takes less than 10 minutes to make and works perfectly for dipping or marinating.

When I was in elementary school there were two types of kids: McDonald’s chicken nuggets kids and Burger King chicken nuggets kids. I was a Burger King fan for one important reason: Burger King’s chicken nuggets tasted the best with barbecue sauce, and as much as I loved putting ketchup on my hot dogs and burgers, when it came to chicken, I preferred smoky, sweet barbecue sauce.

Unlike ketchup, there are multiple types of barbecue sauce and even more recipe variations of each type. There’s the sweet Kansas City-style, the mustard-based South Carolina version, the West Carolina vinegar sauce, hot and spicy Texas “mop” sauce, Memphis BBQ sauce which is sweet like Kansas City style but thinner, and Alabama white sauce. While there are tons of articles online about which sauce to pair with certain types of foods and cooking styles, many of us choose our BBQ sauce based on the taste.

Personally, I’m more of a Memphis BBQ sauce fan as it’s less sweet than Kansas City sauce and has a bit more vinegar and tomato flavor. Now, this barbecue sauce recipe is far from an authentic version of any of these sauces. It’s not meant to be a show-stopper sauce, but rather a simple weeknight-friendly recipe that perfect for adding to a crockpot to make pulled pork or dipping homemade chicken nuggets into. It is more on the tomato and vinegar-side, so if you like your sauce sweeter, simply add a touch more maple syrup.

Now this sauce definitely tastes like bourbon, so if you’re not a fan of bourbon or are making this for kiddos, you can simply substitute water in for the bourbon. You may want to up the maple syrup a bit as well for a tad more sweetness.   

Despite having a couple more 80-degree days here in Denver this past week, it looks like Fall is going to be in full swing this weekend – possibly even feeling winterish up in the mountains with a chance of snow! Bry and I are headed up to the cabin for the weekend and are keeping our fingers crossed for snow. As much as I loved napping in the hammock this summer, I’m so ready for hot cocoa weather and playing board games while snow falls outside.

So here’s a toast to adding some warmth to these gradually cooling days!   

Easy Bourbon BBQ Sauce

This simple homemade bourbon BBQ sauce takes only 10 minutes to make and works perfectly for dipping or marinating.
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade, Sauce
Servings: 1 cup
Author: Kelli


  • 6- oz tomato paste
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or more to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper or more to taste
  • Optional: few drops of hot sauce


  • Whisk together ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it reaches a light boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 min or until thickened. For a spicier BBQ sauce, add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce. Store in fridge for up to two weeks.


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