A little sauciness from Yes!Chef!…barbecue basics

Homemade Barbecue Sauce with grilled chicken
Homemade Barbecue Sauce with grilled chicken

Barbecue!  That word conjures up summer and swimming and fresh fruit and veggies and meat cooking on the grill.

And…the age old argument about barbecue sauce.  Should it be sweet or tart?  Homemade or store bought?  Meat marinated in the sauce or used after the meat is cooked?  We are here to say, “Yes!” to all of the above.

Barbecue Sauciness
Barbecue Sauciness

The house is finally on the market
The house is finally on the market

We finally put our house on the market and so we’ve had a little breathing room.  No more running up to the house (30 minute drive)to clean or pack or fix up or water the yard or paint something.  So now, we wait.  And now Yes!Chef! has time to do some things he loves to do:


Yes!Chef! loves a good spy book
Yes!Chef! loves a good spy book

walk with Obie T.,

Obie knows the best places to walk
Obie knows the best places to walk
Obie T. Dogg...star of Lake Tahoe
Obie T. Dogg…star of Lake Tahoe

wander around the area and look at cool stuff (here we stopped at a classic car show) to look around

Yes!Chef! checks out the interior of a 1950s (or so) Pontiac
Yes!Chef! checks out the interior of a 1950s (or so) Pontiac
Interesting old car
Interesting old car
Old RV
Old RV

and, of course, cook.

Lots of good stuff planned for us
Lots of good stuff planned for us

I’ve been wanting to do a barbecue sauce post because he uses three different kinds of barbecue sauce depending upon how much time he has and what type of meat he is grilling.

Sauce Number 1:Best Store Bought Sauce Ever

Woody's Cookin Sauce
Woody’s Cookin-Sauce

I grew up with this barbecue sauce.  Most people I know have never heard of it, even though it is easy to find in the grocery store.  My dad never used any other sauce and he passed on this little secret to Yes!Chef!.  It is a very potent marinade so we use it for Tri-tip or other tougher meat.  It adds a spicy (not hot spicy), smoky flavor that is hard to duplicate with a homemade sauce.  Try this if you have a couple of hours to marinate a piece of meat or even 20 minutes will do on a more tender meat.  It’s great in a pinch and when you have time and a tougher piece of meat.

Sauce Number 2:Dolled up Store-bought Sauce

Mix a little vinegar into a sweet barbecue sauce
Mix a little vinegar into a sweet barbecue sauce

Yes!Chef! and I do not like real sweet barbecue sauce.  We like a bit of tang.  So here is what he does for barbecue sauce when we have either run out of homemade sauce or he doesn’t have time to make some.  Use about 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce and about 1/4-1/3 cup vinegar (Yes!Chef! says he prefers Apple Cider Vinegar but any vinegar but balsamic will do.) Put both in a sauce pan and stir until combined.  Cook on low until it thickens and loses some of the sharpness of the vinegar. Yes!Chef! does not cook with it, he seasons the meat well, grills it up, lets it rest and then either pours the sauce over the finished product or serves it as a dipping sauce, or both.  Try this.  It is really, really good, especially on chicken.

Sauce Number 3: Good Old Homemade Sauce

Start with good ingredients
Start with good ingredients

Use fresh ingredients as much as possible.  Make sure your dried herbs and spices are not as old as the hills…like a few that I found in the back of our spice cupboard.  And, as good as your homemade sauce may be, if it is paired with over-cooked meat, it won’t be as tasty.

Perfectly grilled chicken thighs
Perfectly grilled chicken thighs

The above picture was taken quickly and in bad light, so it’s not very pretty, but you can still see that the thighs are well seasoned, skin is crisped up and they are very juicy.

Here’s a better photo of the chicken with the sauce poured over.

Grilled Chicken Thighs with homemade barbecue sauce and a green salad
Grilled Chicken Thighs with homemade barbecue sauce and a green salad

You can add some starch to your plate (potato or rice or polenta…), if you like, but for us, meat and veggies or a crisp salad with a great homemade dressing is enough.

Here’s Yes!Chef!’s recipe:

Yes!Chef!’s Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Makes about 5 cups


  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 4 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar substitute (we used Splenda brown sugar mix)
  • 3 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
  • 2 bottles (12 oz.) beer of your choice (We used Stella Artois)
  • 1 cup water


  1. Heat oil in Dutch Oven on medium heat.  Add chopped onion with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add remaining salt, peppers, cinnamon, celery seed, paprika, and chili powder.  Stir around for 15-20 seconds in order to bloom (smells really good.)
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients and stir.  Bring to a boil and then turn the stove down so that the sauce simmers. Allow to simmer for at least one hour so that the flavors can combine and condense.  If the sauce is too thick for you, add more liquid.

And there you have it.  If you do not want to use Splenda or other artificial sweetener, you could use about 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/3 cup, or so, molasses.  Add more brown sugar if it is not sweet enough for you.  Taste, taste, taste, as they say on the cooking shows.  We do not like overly sweet (sticky sweet) bbq sauces, so our sauce is more of the tomato, spices and vinegar than sweet.

Give each person a little bowl with more sauce (so they don't have to ask)
Give each person a little bowl with more sauce (so they don’t have to ask)

This makes quite a bit of sauce, so you can freeze it in 1 cup parcels for a couple of months.  It will also last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, but keep it in a closed mason jar. (Plus, mason jars look way better than those opaque plastic containers that you will forget about until one day you say, “What’s in here?” and you open it and it’s all green and stinky. And you scream and scare the dog.  Don’t do that to yourself or your dog. Stick with the mason jar and that won’t happen to you because, if the jar gets pushed to the back of the refrigerator and you forget about it for 6 months, at least you can see thru the glass and your won’t have to open it. At that point, toss the whole thing away. But, it won’t last that long, because you will use it up way before that happens.)

Yes!Chef!'s barbecue sauce
Yes!Chef!’s barbecue sauce…thick and rich


Published by

Karen Schmautz


5 thoughts on “A little sauciness from Yes!Chef!…barbecue basics

  1. You had me at BBQ! Lovely to see the food posts are back Karen. I have missed your Lake Tahoe and Obie shots, too

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