Elevate your barbecue instantly when you use this shockingly good homemade Whiskey BBQ sauce. You are going to love what this sauce does for your ribs, chicken wings, or pulled pork sandwiches.
🍽️ Why This Works
Incredible Flavor | It tastes so good you will want to make the sauce and keep it on hand all the time. The whiskey brings a subtle sweet tanginess and amps up the flavor of the meat without overpowering it.
Three Ingredients | You can make this delicious whiskey BBQ sauce recipe with what you already have on hand. you won’t need any special trips to the store.
Fast and Simple | It’s really easy to make this homemade sauce recipe. Just combine all the ingredients (a short list!) in a saucepan and boil until they thicken up. That’s it! It takes about ten minutes tops.
📝 Ingredient Notes
Whiskey – We used Small Batch 1792 Bourbon. A bourbon is technically a specialized form of whiskey, though many people consider it a class of its own. You can use your favorite Irish whiskey or bourbon; whatever you have on hand is fine. It’s important to note, however, that quality does matter for the finished sauce.
Butter and Brown Sugar – These two classics are the only ingredients you need to round out your Whiskey BBQ sauce for perfection in a jar. Just look at how gorgeous that is!
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
Saucepan. Our All-Clad pans have stood the test of time! If you haven’t already, invest in high-quality, thick-walled saucepans.
Jar With Lid. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least a week if you put it in a mason jar with a lid.
Step One: Place the whiskey in your saucepan, then set it on medium heat.
Step Two: Add the butter. If all you have on hand is unsalted butter, you will want to add a bit of salt, about ¼ teaspoon.
Step Three: Add the brown sugar. Dark brown sugar will give you a more intense molasses flavor.
Step Four: Stir to combine. We used a wooden spoon, but a whisk is also a great tool for this to get everything perfectly combined.
Step Five: Bring it to a boil, constantly stirring until it thickens. It will be the consistency of a thin syrup.
Step Six: Let it cool completely and place it in a jar for storage.
❗ Recipe Tips and Tricks
How to Grill with Whiskey BBQ Sauce: Use a basting brush to cover the meat with this sauce toward the end of the grilling time. You can add a dry rub first if you like or skip the dry rub completely and just go straight to saucing it up. Once it is on the grill, baste it with the sauce multiple times during the tail end of the cooking process to make sure you get plenty of depth to that whiskey flavor intensity that makes this sauce so amazing.
How to Smoke with Whiskey BBQ Sauce: During the last fifteen to twenty minutes of cook time, baste the meat several more times with the sauce.
Avoid Cross-Contamination: If you have more sauce than you will need, make sure you don’t dip a basting brush directly into your storage jar and then onto raw meat and back again. If this happens, the extra sauce will need to be tossed.
PRO TIP: Pour out some of the sauce into a bowl and use that for basting your meat, disposing of the contaminated leftover sauce when you are done. If you need more sauce, just pour more from the jar into your bowl. This keeps the jar itself from getting unwanted bacteria.
🧑🍳 Storage and Reheating
Keep your leftover homemade whiskey BBQ sauce in the refrigerator for seven to ten days. Make sure it is in an airtight container. It will solidify thanks to the butter. When you are ready to use it again, just heat it up and whisk it together.
Make a double or triple batch and keep it in the fridge to have on hand. It will keep for at least a week and is ready to go whenever you decide to grill. Freeze any sauce you won’t use up in time. You may never use store-bought sauce again!
Additions and Substitutions
We think our recipe is the best whiskey barbecue sauce ever, but you can definitely play with the flavors and change up the profile of this sauce for variation and fun!
Use maple whiskey and maple syrup in place of some of the brown sugar.
A couple of tablespoons of bacon jam or candied bacon would be a nice addition to the sauce and add some variety if you are using the sauce more than once in a week.
For another option and different flavor twist, add onions and garlic. Sauté the onions and garlic and then add the remaining ingredients and bring it to a boil. Purée it with a stick blender and cook until it thickens.
Make it a whiskey peach bbq sauce by replacing half the brown sugar with peach preserves, adding ¾ cup of ketchup and an eight cup or so of apple cider vinegar.
This is a buttery bourbon barbecue sauce. You can give it that tomato flavor by adding tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Liquid smoke, hot sauce, and ketchup add depth to this completely different but enjoyable sauce.
Enhance the whiskey flavor even more when you use bourbon barrel smoking wood in your smoker or grill!
Use this sauce on any meat you want to dress up. You will be hard pressed to find a grilling or smoking meat that won’t taste great with it. Our smoked baby back ribs, grilled chicken drumsticks, or Teres Major Grilled Steak are great candidates for a sticky, buttery BBQ sauce. Try it with salmon, shrimp, or even a turkey!
❓ Recipe FAQ
7-10 days. Store in an airtight container or Mason jar. The nice thing about making bbq sauce with bourbon is that it will keep quite a while in the refrigerator. Plan to use it within 7-10 days or freeze it instead.
Yes. Make sure the sauce is completely cooled, place it in an airtight container, and keep it for up to three months in your freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, heat and mix well before using.
Any good whiskey will work. Don’t use cheap whiskey, because this sauce has a full cup of the stuff in it and the flavor definitely comes through in the finish. Try the Small Batch 1792, Jim Beam, Pikesville Straight Rye, High West Double Rye whiskey, or go fruity with an apple bourbon or maple bourbon. As long as you don’t go super cheap, you really can’t go wrong.
Yes. The recipe contains one cup of alcohol. However, the vast majority of the alcohol evaporates during the cooking and grilling process. It is nearly impossible to “cook out” all of the alcohol content when using alcohol in a recipe. This article has good information about alcohol in food.
If you want that amazing smoke flavor but only have time to throw your meat on the grill (and not smoke it low and slow) try adding a half teaspoon or quarter teaspoon of liquid smoke to your sauce during the cooking process. Just remember that with liquid smoke a little goes a long way.
Not really when it is used as a basting liquid on the outside. Whiskey intensifies flavors because of how it reacts with the fat and liquid on the surface of the meat.
Tried this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. You can also stay in touch with me through social media by following me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook!
Whiskey BBQ Sauce
- Small Saucepan
- ½ cup Whiskey
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- 1 stick Butter
- Combine the brown sugar, butter and whiskey in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil until it is thick which should take 4-6 minutes.
- Stir or whisk to keep it from burning.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool completely before storing. It will thicken slightly as it cools.
- Use maple whiskey and maple syrup in place of some of the brown sugar.
- A couple of tablespoons of bacon jam or candied bacon would be a nice addition to the sauce and add some variety if you are using the sauce more than once in a week.
- For another option and different flavor twist, add onions and garlic. Sauté the onions and garlic and then add the remaining ingredients and bring it to a boil. Puree it with a stick blender and cook until it thickens.
- Make it a whiskey peach bbq sauce by replacing half the brown sugar with peach preserves, adding 3/4 cup of ketchup and an eight cup or so of apple cider vinegar.
- This is a buttery bourbon barbecue sauce without any tomatoes. You can give it that tomato flavor by adding tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Liquid smoke, hot sauce, and ketchup add depth to this completely different but enjoyable sauce.
- Enhance the bourbon flavor even more when you use bourbon barrel smoking wood in your smoker or grill!