Homemade barbecue sauce has been high atop my list of culinary creations to master. But it took a little nudging from a roadside eatery in Los Angeles to inspire a 20-minute version starring a sweet and tangy blend of root beer, brown sugar and garlic.
While Coca-Cola is the classic option for carbonated beverage-based barbecue sauces, root beer adds an extra element of rich flavor. And the result is a quick-simmered sauce perfect for dipping, slathering or dousing all barbecue-friendly items, from pulled pork and chicken tenders to burgers and even pizza.
Aside from taste, there are strong preferences when it comes to barbecue sauce consistency. Are you Team Thin and Syrupy? Or Team Thick and Saucy? Regardless of your allegiance, I’ve got you covered with simple techniques for both. So grab the root beer and ditch the store-bought sauce in favor of this DIY finger-lickin’ favorite.
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- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup root beer
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)
- Add the olive oil to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepot set over medium-low heat, then add the minced garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until golden brown.
- Stir in the root beer, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce it to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes until the sauce has reduced by 1/4. Continue with the directions below for two sauce consistency options.
For a thinner sauce:
- Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the salt and pepper, and serve.
For a thicker sauce:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce, bring it to a boil again then simmer it for 2 to 3 additional minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the salt and pepper, and serve.
- This barbecue sauce recipe pairs perfectly with pulled pork, chicken, ribs, burgers and barbecue chicken pizza.
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Hi Kelly, do you think some diced onions cooked with the garlic would hurt the flavor of this sauce ? I love onions, and am just curious . Thank you. I love your recipes .
That would be delish!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Sharon!
This bbq sauce is a hit with my guys. Very easy and quick to make and just the right amount of everything. My heavenly son loved root beer, i could taste it in the ribs and it was delicious! Happy New Year everyone.
I’m so happy to read this, Heather. Happy New Year!
Today we celebrate my heavenly son’s what would be his 22nd birthday, he loved bbq everything, last year we went to a steak house. This year we are doing a bbq at home, unfortunately with restrictions from covid it will only be myself his father and his younger brother celebrating. His older brother phoned and advised me to use this recipe as he says its a no fail and wakes up the tastebuds..lol..so i will try this! Wish me luck and i will respond after the dinner is done this evening.
I hope you enjoy the recipe, Heather. :)
How long is the shelf life of this BBQ sauce.
Hi Norma Jean! The barbecue sauce will last up to two weeks when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Enjoy!
Ok.. made this today cause I didn’t want to go back out to the store for just BBQ sauce (stuck at home and all). We had 1 bottle of root beer left, so why not try. From the previous comments I only used 1/8 cup of Worcestershire sauce but I added a couple drops of hot sauce. Tasted very good by itself and can’t wait to see what my chicken tastes like.
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Kathleen!
I made this this morning to use on pulled pork. I was really hoping for more of a rootbeer flavor. Instead the Worcester flavor comes through a lot more. Any suggestions?
Hi Brittany! I haven’t experienced a strong Worcestershire flavor in this sauce before. Did you use regular root beer and the amount specified?
I’m wanting to make barbequed pulled chicken for sandwiches in an Instant Pot. Will your 1 1/2 cup recipe suffice or should I double all ingredients to yield 3 cups of sauce?
Hi Gigi – It really depends on how much chicken you’ll be using.
So much better than store-bought. This will be a new staple in our fridge!
Hi Kelly, This sounds amazing and I will be defiantly be making it soon.
I have a question tho, can I place this recipe in a sterilized jar and “preserve” it too. Thanks Kylie
That should work!
We are gonna try this tonight! I am going to do country style ribs in the slow cooker so I will double the recipe, one in with the ribs and a fresh batch of sauce to put on the pulled pork sandwiches when they are done. I think I’m already drooling!?
This looks awesome. I will add it to my ever developing list of recipes to try (there just aren’t enough measls in the week – I need a ranking system!).
As a slight aside, I recently cooked a ham in Coca Cola for the first time – wowsers. I’m in the UK and when I spoke with friends about this, I did get some funny looks! But my was it delicious.
Love the idea of ham cooked in Coca-Cola! Thanks for your comment :)
I’ve heard about this sauce for years but I’ve never made it. I bought some root beer from Costco recently and it’s begging to go in this sauce.
Awesome! I hope you enjoy the recipe, Maureen!