I’m definitely not a barbecue expert.  My father in law has gotten really into smoking and barbecuing, if I need to know something I can defer to him.  But one thing I do know is cooking to taste, and I put my tastebuds to work making an easy bbq sauce recipe.  I want to create a barbecue sauce repertoire and one day hold a taste testing to find out what kinds of flavors my family likes the best.  So far I’m quite partial to this chocolate bbq sauce that tickles the tongue with just a hint of spice.

If you’re wondering how to make bbq sauce yourself, it’s really pretty simple.  As with pretty much anything you cook, it’s important to balance flavors as you create your sauce.  Typically bbq sauce has a tomato base (tomato sauce, past, or ketchup) and then you add other ingredients to deepen and brighten the flavors.

I usually add some vinegar to give it a good tang, and sugar (or molasses) for sweetness.  Garlic and onion are a must for me, and some sort of crushed or powdered pepper to give as much or as little kick as I’m in the mood for.  Then comes play time.  You can add fruit juice or puree, chocolate, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, espresso, beer, soda, pretty much whatever you have and want to experiment with!

When you know what special ingredient you want, choose your spices to work with that.  Since I was using chocolate, I chose cinnamon, cumin, and cilantro because it made me think of mole sauce.  I mixed this with some leftover kalua pork and put it on a bun with my radish cranberry coleslaw.  Now your turn to spill…do you have a special barbecue sauce ingredient?

Chocolate Barbecue Sauce Recipe

makes 1/2 cup


1 oz Scharffen Berger 62% Cacao Semisweet Dark Chocolate
1/2 TBS butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp crushed dried Chinese chili pepper (or more to taste)
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 TBS golden brown sugar
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS chopped cilantro
sea salt and pepper to taste


Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on low heat.  Add the garlic, onion powder, and chili pepper then stir well for one minute to let garlic soften.  Add apple cider vinegar, tomato sauce, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, and cilantro.  Let cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally and adding salt and pepper to taste.

Approximate cost/serving:  Making your own sauce is almost always going to be cheaper than buying it in a bottle.  The Scharffen Berger is an expensive chocolate but I only used one ounce of it.  All the spices have been bought in bulk.  That means this sauce was only $1.20 to make.  I made 6 BBQ pork sandwiches so it was just 20 cents a serving!

Vegetarian/Gluten Free:  Good to go on both counts.

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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.