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Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

A small pot with a small amount of spicy bourbon barbecue sauce left in it and a spoon resting inside.
This sauce couldn’t be any easier to make. It makes a bold statement with a hint of spicy, Southern-style, while a lick of bourbon gives it an edge.
Mitchell Rosenthal

Prep 10 mins
Cook 2 hrs 30 mins
Total 2 hrs 40 mins
80 servings | 1 1/2 quarts
39 kcal


  • 2 to 3 handfuls hickory chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes


  • Two bottles ketchup
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup store-bought or homemade hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon rendered bacon drippings
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  • Prepare a barrel smoker. You want the temperature to be between 225°F and 250°F (107°C and 121°C).
  • Place the ketchup in a large metal bowl, place the bowl in the smoker, and add a handful of the soaked hickory chips to the coals. Smoke the ketchup for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Be mindful of maintaining a consistent temperature inside the smoker, adding charcoal as needed to keep it in the 225°F to 250°F range (107°C and 121°C). You may need to add more soaked hickory chips to keep the smoke flowing.
  • Dump the smoked ketchup into a large pot. Add the bourbon, mustard, molasses, water, hot red pepper sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, bacon drippings, and salt and stir well to combine. Place over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened slightly.
  • Immediately slather the sauce over some ribs or other meat of some sort. Any leftover sauce will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.