Just over a week ago, Heather and I received terrible news.  Our friend and former neighbor Brian had died suddenly at home.  We had seen Brian last at our house to watch a UFC fight and indulge on one of the most intense feasts of 2012: bacon-wrapped venison, steak, and sweet potato fries.  I was full for 2 days.  It was a great night of food and fights.  His wife had recently been relocated for work to North Carolina, and we were looking forward to hosting them occasionally while Brian continued his school and work up here in Virginia.  We were devastated when we heard the news, and have spent a good deal of time reflecting on our time together.

One of the things we always did when we spent time together was enjoy good food and drink.  Brian also was a health conscious guy who ate a paleo diet and enjoyed Jiujitsu and Crossfit.  As an Army Ranger and active soldier in the Army Reserves, his intensity for life and country came out in all that he did.  His contribution was always ribs, wings, or bacon-wrapped something–and one time pork rinds (which I had never had, but surprising liked a lot).  More often than not, it would be some or all of those things, every time we’d get together.  His abundance and generosity was a great model to try to embody.

In his memory, we wanted to make a homemade barbecue sauce that was spicy and rich, and that we could make to celebrate Brian (and all our other servicemen and women) and his amazing, but cut-too-short, legacy left with family and friends.

One note about the recipe itself is our use of unsulphured blackstrap molasses.  We typically try to stay away from sweeteners, but this added something that we could not replicate with anything else.  Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct created when raw sugar cane is being processed into sugar.  The 3rd boiling of the sugar syrup is what creates this product.  What I like about using this, sparingly, is that it is quite mineral dense with little sugar.  Mark Sisson even suggests its use in making your own sports drink to fuel a marathon.

1/2 C homemade ketchup (it’s really so easy to make!)
2 Tbsp Blackstrap molasses
1 Tbsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Horseradish Dijon mustard
2 tsp coconut aminos
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper


In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  If you have just made your ketchup, allow 10-15 minutes for it to cool before adding ingredients.

Mix vigorously, until all wet and dry ingredients have mixed evenly and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.  Immediately use in a recipe or place in a storage container.

Use this on your favorite thing to put barbecue on: ribs, pulled pork, chicken, or beef.  It makes about 3/4 of a cup, and should keep well in the fridge for a few weeks (if you can hold onto it–we ran out in 2 days, so you might consider doubling or tripling this if you like BBQ).  This is a delicious sauce that takes very little time to make, but really hit the spot.  Feel free to add more or less of the chili powders per your liking for spice.  This isn’t insanely spicy, but it does have a nice mouth warmth.


  1. Omg…omg. I just made this bbq sauce and it is seriously the BEST homemade bbq sauce I’ve ever tried!! I am kind of picky with my sauces – it has to be juuuust right – so to find one that is absolutely perfect in every way has me dancing in my kitchen right now. AWESOME!!! 🙂


  2. This is the BEST BBQ sauce (and ketchup)! Every time I want bbq sauce (and ketchup) I hunt down this site (I know I should delete all the others I’ve saved but I guess I like taking the harder route). Thank you!


  3. This recipe looks great and the inclusion of molasses adds a rich note. I just made my own coffee creamer using a bit of the molasses for sweetener. It stands up better to the milk and coffee than sugar.


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