Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Sauce

Bobby Flay’s barbecue sauce recipe is simply the best—an artful balance of sweet, spicy, and smoky. Perfect slathered on ribs, pork, burgers, or chicken.

A white bowl being filled with Bobby Flay's barbecue sauce.

Allow us to tell you about Bobby Flay’s barbecue sauce for a moment. You’re going to want to stop your multitasking and pay attention for this. It’s an ever so sweetly, spicy, tangy, smoky, sigh-inducingly lovely sauce that wooed us from the very first spoonful. And the second. And the third. It has a perfect balance of flavors and a thick, cling-to-your-ribs (or-burgers-or-chops-or-wings-or-whatever) quality that you’ll want to slather on just about everything, even your morning eggs. You may never have another meal without it. Say bye bye to bottled barbecue sauce. Originally published June 13, 2012.Bobby Flay

How To Make A Burger Like Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay’s barbecue sauce was created for his Cheyenne burger, which he says was inspired by a rodeo he once attended in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The burger is smothered with smoked Cheddar, this barbecue sauce, and heaps of crisp fried onions, and according to Flay, it would bring out the cowboy in anyone.

Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (5)
  • 20 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 32 (1-tbsp) servings
5/5 - 5 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes cookbook

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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.)

Print RecipeBuy the Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes cookbook

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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 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.

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 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!

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!


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  1. I could drink this sauce, it was just that good! We used it on a pork roast that we smoked and then finished up on a slow grill. Takes nothing to make and it’s gone before you know it. Making a batch today to go on some bbq ribs

    1. Thanks for taking the time to let us know, Sophie! Your pork roast sounds amazing. Do let us know how the ribs turn out.

  2. This is one of the best I’ve ever tasted! It’s simple and easy to follow! After refrigerated for a day the Smokey, sweet, spicy, depth of flavor blew me away. Incredible! We put it on a 12 hour bbq brisket and my family ate every bite and begged me for the recipe!! I love it so much!

  3. I used this recipe to make over 3 gallons of sauce to go with pulled pork for 300 people. It’s great scaled up, too. Only thing is adding a little extra vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) when making a large batch. 10/10

  4. This is a fantastic barbecue sauce! I’ve made this several times, always with rave reviews from my guests. This recipe is fairly simple, and yields a good amount of sauce which delivers on a bold, rich, sweet, and sticky flavor that just does not compare to anything store bought. It is worth the extra effort to throw this together. I used an immersion blender to blend the ingredients. Most recently, I served this with chicken hot off the grill, and alongside coffee rubbed grilled tri tip made for a high school graduation party. The teens and adults all loved it!

    1. Excellent suggestions for using this versatile barbecue sauce, Dawn. It never ceases to amaze me how adding something as simple as homemade barbecue sauce will completely elevate a dish.

  5. I found this recipe several years ago when I was looking for a sloppy joe recipe for the grandkids and have used it for everything BBQ since. The long list of ingredients makes for a wonderfully complex flavor that’s miles above any other recipe that I’ve tried. I always make extra to keep for a couple of weeks. I put it on everything.

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