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Basic Barbecue Sauce

Serve this sweet and savory barbecue sauce as a condiment for grilled meats and vegetables. This sauce is pureed until smooth but it can also be left a little chunky, if you prefer.


  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbs. molasses
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce


In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and melt the butter. Add the onion and water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, chili powder and cumin until the onions are coated. Stir in the ketchup, barbecue sauce, molasses and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the sauce into a blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Makes 2 cups.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).