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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research,
he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
Pulled pork is a classic barbecue meat with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a delicious smoky taste. You can make pulled pork at home by applying a savory rub to a shoulder joint and slow cooking or smoking that meat for several hours before shredding the flesh off the bone.
The fantastic news for meat lovers is that you can elevate your pulled pork’s flavor and texture by making a tangy and slightly sweet barbecue sauce from some basic ingredients in your kitchen or pantry.
Here, you’ll learn the quick and easy method for making sumptuous homemade barbecue sauce that your family and friends will love.
1. Why Should You Serve BBQ Sauce With Pulled Pork?
Barbecue sauce perfectly combines pulled pork because the brown sugar’s sweetness and the tangy taste of mustard or vinegar work to enhance barbecued meat’s overall smokiness.
If you’re smoking a shoulder or Boston butt joint to create your own pulled pork, you can baste it thoroughly with a thick, spicy, and intensely flavorful barbecue sauce before putting it on your grill rack. This coating protects the meat from drying out, keeping it tender and juicy until it’s ready to serve. The sauce transforms into a delicious bark that elevates the overall taste of the pulled pork.
2. Benefits of Homemade BBQ Sauce
You may be tempted to buy a store-bought option, but there are several key reasons why you should try making your homemade bbq sauce for pulled pork.
Higher nutritional value
Many store-bought sauces contain a disproportionate amount of sodium, and when you eat these products regularly, you risk increasing your body’s blood pressure.
You’ll often find that store-bought sauces also include an excessive amount of fructose corn syrup and sugar.
When you make your barbecue sauce, you know exactly what’s going into it. Instead of using artificial sweeteners or preservatives to enhance your liquid’s flavor, you can add brown sugar. You also have complete control over the amount of salt you add to the sauce, so if you’re on a reduced-sodium diet, add less table salt to the sauce than the recipe requires.
More control over flavor
When you make your barbecue sauce, you have full control over its flavor. For instance, if you prefer something with a thinner consistency and an intense, vinegary taste, you can make a Carolina-style sauce and simmer it over low heat for less time than you would with a more traditional and thick Southern-based sauce.
If you want to create a viscous and flavorful mustard-based liquid, mix mustard, vinegar, butter, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce over low heat for 30-60 minutes. Those who like an extra kick of sweetness from their BBQ sauces can add more brown sugar than the recipe calls for.
More cost-effective method
Cooking your homemade bbq sauce for pulled pork is more cost-effective than shelling out cash on a store-bought option. Most simple barbecue sauce recipes make use of ingredients that you’ll likely already have to hand in your kitchen, so you won’t need to spend any time or money looking for fancy spices or herbs in your local grocery store.
The shelf-life of a homemade sauce will typically be a lot shorter than that of a store-bought option, but you can easily solve this issue by producing a large amount of liquid and freezing it into several smaller batches that you can use later on.
3. How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce for Pulled Pork
There are many variants of the most popular BBQ sauce, most of which combine perfectly with the smoky flavors and tender texture of pulled pork. This particular recipe makes a standard vinegar-based Best Odds barbecue sauce, but if you’re looking for something a little sweeter or spicier, make a Memphis BBQ or Wicker’s variant.
Get your ingredients ready
You’ll need tomato ketchup, red wine or apple cider vinegar, Dijon-style mustard, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves.
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan
Mix together 1½ cups of vinegar, ½ cup of ketchup, two tablespoons each of sugar and mustard, and 1 teaspoon of the ground cayenne pepper in a medium-sized saucepan.
If you want to make a Memphis-style barbecue sauce, add a teaspoon of Louisiana hot sauce and ⅓ cup of molasses to the mix. Those who enjoy a little extra spice in their BBQ sauce could add some chili powder and ground cumin to the saucepan and make a Missouri-style Wicker variant.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn down the heat, using a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients. Add two or three bay leaves into the sauce, and season generously with salt and pepper.
Simmer over a low heat
Simmer the sauce over low heat for 10-15 minutes to allow the liquid to thicken and reduce slightly. Make sure the brown sugar is completely dissolved before removing it from the heat source.
Mix the sauce in a food processor
Turn off the heat, then remove the bay leaves from the thickened sauce. Pour the liquid into a food processor, then blend the sauce until you’re satisfied with the consistency. If you’d prefer to serve your reduced liquid straight from the saucepan, that’s fine. Just make sure you remove the bay leaves before serving your homemade barbecue sauce onto your guests’ plates.
You can also use your homemade BBQ sauce as a delicious marinade for your chicken or spare ribs. If you make a large batch of sauce and have some left over during the week, consider mixing the liquid with some lemon juice and olive oil to make a spicy, juicy vinaigrette for your lunchtime salads.