Tips to Create Your Best BBQ Sauce

Whether you prefer it smoky, sweet, spicy or tangy, barbecue sauce is the fait accompli for every grillmaster. For those who don’t have their own signature sauce, these local chefs share their top-secret recipes for making a lip-smacking BBQ sauce of your own.

Mario Gongora, Executive Chef
Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur Landing

“Our barbecue sauce is one of the most popular sauces we make at Marin Brewing Company. We slowly reduce the base ingredients with a combination of cayenne pepper, red wine and molasses. These ingredients give the sauce a special spicy sweetness that pairs perfectly with Marin Brewing Co. beers.”

Matt Raftery, Chef
Sam’s Anchor Cafe Tiburon

“Although there can be numerous ingredients, I think in order to make a great barbecue sauce you have to start with a great paprika. We use bittersweet Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón agridulce). It has just the right kick to it and provides that distinctive underlying smokiness. The other key is to really brown the onions when you first start to make the sauce. But brown means brown; don’t let the garlic burn before you deglaze with your wet ingredients.”

John Sarran, Owner
Bubba’s Diner, San Anselmo

“The most important thing to remember is to ask yourself, what will your sauce be coating? You want to taste your barbecue, be it salmon, quail or pork. Our sauce at Bubba’s is a house recipe designed to complement meat. It’s an amalgam of a mustardy Carolina, vinegary mop and sweet Texan sauces with a hint of smoke. These key ingredients bring out the product’s natural flavor.”

Add an unusual ingredient like crushed pineapple, bourbon, chutney, hoisin sauce, gumdrops, celery seed or black coffee.