Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Sauce

After you’ve made this quick and easy sauce once, you’ll want to slather it on grilled chicken, steak, pork chops…you might never go back to the bottled stuff. I created it to top the Cheyenne burger, which was inspired by a rodeo I once went to in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was thinking its layers of smoked cheddar, spicy barbecue sauce, and crisp fried onions would bring out the cowboy in anyone.–Bobby Flay

LC Sweetly Spicy Sigh Note

This thick, cling-to-your-ribs-or-burger sauce has a sweetly spicy, sigh-inducing note that wooed us from the very first spoonful. And the second. And the third…

Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes about 2 cups


  • 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 1 smallish onion, coarsely chopped (preferably a Spanish or other sweet onion)
  • 3 small cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or substitute sherry vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 canned chipotle en adobo, chopped (note that this is 1 chipotle pepper from a can of peppers, not 1 can of peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika (pimentón)
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the ketchup and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • 2. Add the mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle chile, ancho chile powder, paprika, brown sugar, honey, and molasses and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 10 minutes or until thickened. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • 3. Scrape the barbecue sauce into a food processor or blender and purée until smooth or until the desired consistency. The sauce will be quite, quite thick. Let cool to room temperature. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly. You can start dousing and dolloping right away, although if you wait overnight you’ll be rewarded with a more complex, three-dimensional taste. (You can cover and refrigerate the sauce for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before using.)
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Susan Bingaman

Jun 13, 2012

Finally! A barbecue sauce recipe that doesn’t make an obscene amount and takes under an hour to make. I feel like I’ve found condiment nirvana. I was really worried that the chipotle pepper was going to overpower this sauce, but it lends heat and smoke that is balanced with the sweetness from the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, and honey. This is a good barbecue sauce; I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less from Bobby Flay. Now, while it’s fabulously delicious to use right away, a day’s stay in the fridge makes it even better.

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Kristen Kennedy

Jun 13, 2012

This recipe is simple, straightforward, and made my barbecue-loving husband dance with joy. It hits every taste bud—sparking sweet, salty, spicy, tangy and smoky responses that linger long after sampled. And it’s thick…this isn’t a drip-off-your-burger sauce, it’s a stand-up-and-shout sauce.

I used a yellow onion, as I can’t find Spanish onions where I live. I also did not have sweet Spanish paprika (again, due to location handicap) so I used regular, run-of-the-mill paprika. If I make it again, I’ll make sure to order some better paprika. Otherwise, I followed the directions precisely.

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Ayanna Fews

Jun 13, 2012

This barbecue sauce has a very nice balance of smoke, sweet, and spice that definitely gets better with time. After initially making the sauce, letting it cool and then rushing to taste it, I was a bit undecided about the mix of flavors. The first taste was good, but I felt like it might be missing something. After trying it the next day slathered on some chicken, I found that what it was initially missing was TIME! Although the instructions tell you to start drizzling it right away, I promise if you can wait a day (or even a couple hours) it will be worth the wait! This gives the flavors an opportunity to better blend together, which I think gives you an even better sauce. I didn’t have ancho chili powder, so I used a little less regular chile powder along with smoked paprika, I figured I would get a nice added smokiness through the paprika. My barbecue sauce turned out really thick, and I think when I make this in the future, I will use a smaller onion as I believe this added to the overly thick sauce. This sauce was so easy to make and will definitely make me think twice about store-bought barbecue sauce!

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Caroline Chang

Jun 13, 2012

This sauce hits the sweet, spicy and smoky jackpot. But you definitely have to earn it, considering the comically long list of ingredients. It’s worth it, though, and most are pantry staples. I used sherry vinegar and didn’t skip the ancho chile powder (but I did use some smoked paprika…). Next time, I’ll simmer a little longer. I’m not sure if the onions got soft enough and the final texture after pureeing in the food processor was chunkier than I would have liked.

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Trudy Ngo-Brown

Jun 13, 2012

I loved this sauce! The ingredients list seems kind of long, but it really didn’t take that much time to make at all. I used regular chili powder, but I’ll track down some ancho chile powder to make this again in the future. I used this to marinate pork loin, but I enjoyed it better with the meat after it was cooked. It was a great blend of spicy and sweet.

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Pat Francis

Jun 13, 2012

I had all the ingredients for this easy-to-make barbecue sauce in my pantry, so I decided to make some to brush on grilled chicken. Since I was preparing a lot of other food, I’d figured I’d use a bottled sauce to cut down on prep time, but this was a straightforward enough recipe that I could easily fit into my schedule. It was totally worth it.

This has more depth to it than my usual homemade sauce. The flavors are well-balanced: spicy, but not overly so, rounded out with sweetness and tanginess. The heat doesn’t hit up front but is definitely there. Not only was it delicious on the chicken, but my crock-pot baked beans dried out somewhat, and a big spoonful of this perked them right back up. This makes a very thick sauce. Because the directions said to purée until smooth, I actually needed to add a little extra water (maybe a tablespoon or two) to loosen it a bit and achieve a smoother texture, however, I didn’t want to add so much water that it diluted the sauce. The amount that I added didn’t seem to change the flavors, but didn’t yield a completely smooth texture either.

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Natalie Reebel

Jun 13, 2012

Even though the list of ingredients for this sauce looks lengthy, the recipe is not nearly as complicated as first glance would suggest. Unfortunately I could not find the ancho chile powder so I substituted traditional chili powder. The resulting sauce was still fantastic. We used it on chicken and pork chops and found it complemented the flavors of both. There is a bit of a kick to the sauce, but not so much as to overpower the other flavors in the sauce. This sauce is also very easy to prepare and would probably taste great on various grilling items like beef and vegetables. We really enjoyed it.

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Renee H.

Jun 13, 2012

Sweet and spicy–what a great combo! I followed the recipe to a T, except when it came to the chipotle peppers. I opted to chop three of the chipotles, and add all of the adobo sauce from a 7.5-ounce can. The sauce still had quite a kick, but no one ran screaming from the dinner table. I slathered the sauce on pork and chicken and the sauce nicely enhanced the flavor of both proteins. The next day I sliced up the leftovers and added it to a salad of mixed greens, berries, and toasted almonds for a delicious, light summer supper. Next time I plan to quadruple the recipe!

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Sita Krishnaswamy

Jun 13, 2012

This a fantastic sauce with a bite to it. It’s a quick and easy sauce to make. I slathered it on chicken and pork burgers, and it was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I think this going to be my new favorite BBQ sauce.

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Jackie G.

Jun 13, 2012

This is a very good tomato-based BBQ sauce. It’s sometimes hard to find one that doesn’t taste like glorified ketchup. The variety of ingredients melded together to make a complex sauce. I used sherry vinegar instead of the red wine vinegar, and was pleased with the flavor. I think that apple cider vinegar would also be a good choice. We liked the smoky character of the chipotle en adobo as well as the ancho chile powder. We also liked the thick consistency of the sauce after blending it. I did add a bit more spice as well as vinegar to the sauce after tasting it. That improved it quite a bit to suit our palates.

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Lori Widmeyer

Jun 13, 2012

We loved this sauce. I used it on grilled pork ribs and they were truly finger-licking good! I was worried the sauce would be way too spicy, and it is a spicy barbecue sauce, but not too much so. I’ll certainly be making this again.

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Joel Jenkins

Jun 13, 2012

I don’t give many 10’s but this is one recipe to keep for sure. You can adjust the spiciness by altering the amount of pepper(s) you add. The only suggestion I have is to double the recipe. It really doesn’t make that much; by the time I was done I only had about 1 1/2 cups of sauce. If you’re going to open the can of chipotles, you may as well use them all.

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