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Classic Barbecue Sauce

This all-purpose tomato-based sauce balances sweet and savory. Use this recipe on its own or as a base for the easy-to-make variations: Smoky Chile and Coffee, Roasted Garlic and Lemon, or Peach and Bourbon.

  • Yield: Makes 6 1/2 cups
Classic Barbecue Sauce

Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2009


  • 1/3 cup safflower oil
  • 3 small onions, diced (3 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder ( or regular chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 cups crushed tomatoes (from two 28-ounce cans)
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups water, plus more if needed


  1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute until translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the chili powder, coriander, cumin, molasses, and sugar. Stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cider vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and dark, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Reduce heat to low if sauce is simmering too quickly.

  2. Puree sauce in a blender. Add remaining 4 teaspoons salt, remaining teaspoon pepper, the white vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce, and puree. With blender running, carefully add water in a slow, steady stream. Blend until mixture is smooth and emulsified, adding more water if needed. Let cool, and refrigerate.

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