Burnt Honey Barbecue Sauce

You’ll never buy barbecue sauce again after you stir up this sophisticated twist. All the classic smoky characters show up the party—tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and chili powder—but they get a tasty transformation courtesy of the just-burnt honey. Save your special farmers market honey for something else; honey from the classic plastic bear is perfectly fine for this recipe. Simmered until deep amber, it adds a rich caramel roundness to this spicy and vinegary sauce. Toss it with pulled pork or shredded chicken, or spoon it on your favorite burger for a summery upgrade.

Burnt Honey Barbecue Sauce
Photo: Jen Causey
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
Makes 1 3/4 cups


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from 1 [10-ounce] onion)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (from 3 garlic cloves)

  • 1 cup apple cider

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon dark chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 cup honey


  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium until sizzling. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened and garlic is just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cider, tomato paste, Worcestershire, chili powder, Dijon, lemon juice, vinegar, black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

  2. Just before serving, bring honey to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until honey is dark amber in color and smells like molasses, about 5 minutes. Carefully whisk into tomato paste mixture.

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