Bobby Flay's barbecue sauce being poured from a pot into a white bowl.

I once went to a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and this burger is one thing I took away from the experience—it just seems like the perfect rodeo fare. So, what’s inside? Crisp bacon, crunchy shoestring onion rings, layers of smoked cheddar cheese and, of course, my signature barbecue sauce.–Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay's barbecue sauce being poured from a pot into a white bowl.

Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Sauce

4.85 / 20 votes
I created this barbecue sauce to top the Wyoming burger, but it's also an ideal dipping sauce for French fries. 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.
David Leite
Servings32 servings | 2 cups
Calories26 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • 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 cold water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, (or substitute sherry vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 canned chipotle in adobo, chopped (note that this is 1 chipotle pepper from a can of peppers, not 1 can of chipotle 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


  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until warm and shimmering. 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, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle chile, ancho chile powder, paprika, brown sugar, honey, and molasses to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • Scrape the barbecue sauce into a food processor or blender and purée until either smooth or 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 taste with even more depth. (You can cover and refrigerate the sauce for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before using.)
Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes

Adapted From

Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes

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Serving: 1 tablespoonCalories: 26 kcalCarbohydrates: 4 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 88 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 Bobby Flay. Photo © 2009 Ben Fink. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

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 balanced with sweetness.

This is a good barbecue sauce. I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less from Bobby Flay. While it’s fabulously delicious to use right away, a day’s stay in the fridge makes it even better.

This recipe for Bobby Flay’s barbecue sauce 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 didn’t 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.

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 chile powder, so I used a little less regular chili powder along with smoked paprika, I figured I’d 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.

Bobby Flay’s barbecue 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.

I loved this barbecue 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.

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 barbecue sauce. The flavors are well-balanced—spicy but not overly so and 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.

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 Bobby Flay’s barbecue sauce 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.

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.

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 in 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.

I don’t give many 10s 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. If you’re going to open the can of chipotles, you may as well use them all.

We loved Bobby Flay’s barbecue 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.

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 barbecue sauce on pork and chicken and the sauce nicely enhanced the flavor of both. 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.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I just made this sauce today and layered a nice coat of it on some homemade smoked Texas twinkies. I left one of them without sauce so I could compare the two and this sauce definitely elevated the flavor in a substantial way!

    I do, however, wonder if I made a mistake. I know the recipe said the sauce would be thick. But mine was VERY thick. Almost to the point I could flip the bowl over and nothing would spill out. I had to add some water but still had nowhere near the the smooth consistency of the photo on this article. Was the original consistency of the sauce correct?

    1. Rob, our testers did find the sauce to be very thick, but you should still at least be able to spread it. It shouldn’t be like jam. We’ll have our testers try it again, but in the meantime, I’d recommend cutting back on the cooking time in step 1 and 2 to get a more fluid sauce. In step 1, be sure to keep the mixture just at a simmer, not a boil.

  2. Can I can this recipe? If so, does anything additional like lemon juice / vinegar /salt need to be added for canning?

    1. Neena, we haven’t tested canning this recipe but it should be successful. One of our recipe testers, Melissa Maedgen, suggests you may want to pressure can it to be on the safe side or test the pH to make sure it is under 4.5. If you try it, please do let us know how it turns out.