Bourbon Date BBQ Sauce

We wanted to enjoy a homemade BBQ sauce with no added sugar.  This rich-and-tangy barbecue sauce is sweetened naturally with dates! The full-bodied sweetness of the date mimics molasses, but with the added fiber, nutrients and antioxidants of this superfood.  Slather this sauce on grilled ribs, toss it with shredded pork or fold it into slow-cooked baked beans.

Recipe and photos by Julia Heffelfinger

Makes about 1 Quart


  • 1 Tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • ½ small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ cups ketchup
  • ¾ cup bourbon
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup chopped pitted dates (about 5 dates)
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Dash hot sauce, plus more as needed


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately-low heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.


  1. Add the remaining ingredients, plus 1 cup of water. Simmer over moderately-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce has deepened in color, 15 to 20 minutes. Add more hot sauce to taste. Let the sauce cool slightly and then scrape into a blender. Puree until smooth, adding more water until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Scrape into a 1-quart jar and let cool completely.


MAKE AHEAD The barbecue sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to 1 month.




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