A smoky, savory, and slightly sweet homemade barbecue sauce recipe that pairs perfectly with chicken, pulled pork, ribs and more! Enjoy this honey based, refined sugar free sauce recipe for all your grilling needs.
While there are an endless number of incredible BBQ sauces on the market these days (and even sauces that are sugar free or less processed), I really enjoy making up a batch or two of homemade sauce during grill season.
The smoky flavor of chipotle peppers pairs so well with smoked foods like my Chipotle Honey Smoked Ribs, these crispy grilled chicken wings, or I love it with with this Tex Mex inspired adobo marinated flank steak.
If you’re looking to step up your BBQ game with a sauce that’s both sweet and spicy, then give this one a try. I find it to be a great addition to my other standard homemade sauces (like this KC style sauce or my keto friendly Carolina gold sauce for instance).
Below I will help answer some common questions about using and cooking with chipotle peppers, potential substitutions for ingredients to fit different diets and lifestyles, a guide you through the techniques to utilizing this sauce for some absolutely killer BBQ. Let’s dive in!
- Small Saucepan or Pot
- Measuring cups and Spoons
- Glass Jar (for storage)
This recipe is so simple to execute, let’s be honest. It’s measuring everything out, cooking it on the stove, and letting it chill out in your fridge. While this is an easy recipe to whip up any time, I wanted to break down some commonly asked questions culinary teacher style in case you need a reference. Full recipe is below!
What do chipotle peppers taste like?
If you’ve never had a chipotle pepper, then deciding if this is the sauce for you may be a bit hard. Chipotle peppers are essentially jalapenos that have been dried, smoked, and placed into an adobo sauce and canned (this is what you often see in stores).
The adobo sauce acts as a way to preserve the dried chipotle peppers and also adds to the overall smoky flavor. If you by the type of chipotles in adobo sauce, then you will have added flavors like vinegar, garlic, and additional dried chilies like ancho and guajillo’s too.
The take away flavor is fairly intense on the smoky side, slightly spicy and a little acidic. As the peppers dry during the smoking process they can also have a slight sweetness too.
Are chipotle peppers spicy?
Because a chipotle pepper is literally a dried jalapeno, it’s essentially the same spice level. Some peppers might range in spiciness and overall do pack some heat. The seeds and the pith (the white part inside a raw, fresh pepper) are what add to the overall heat intensity and I would consider them a somewhat spicy and hot pepper.
You can always remove the seeds (thought this is a bit messy and slightly time consuming when the chipotle chiles are dried) to reduce the heat. The nice part to adding other ingredients when using these peppers in a BBQ sauce is that it can reduce the intensity as well.
Chipotle pepper BBQ sauce recipe and ingredients:
Here is what you need for a simple, chipotle and honey style BBQ sauce-
- Organic Ketchup- I prefer an organic ketchup with no added sugars personally so I can manage the sweetness level to my sauce. Use what you prefer!
- Chipotles in Adobo Sauce- Most standard grocery stores across the U.S will have these in the Mexican food isle. You may also have a Latin grocery store depending on where you live and can find them there as well. They come in a small can and you will need to dice and mince the peppers before adding them to the sauce. Like the intense flavor? Try using chipotle powder too.
- Onion- Adds a ton of flavor and works best when it’s grated into the sauce. Grating releases more juices from the onion and allows it to sweat. It also creates a smoother sauce.
- Honey- This is what adds shine and sweetness to the sauce. Honey acts as a nice balancer for the smoky spicy chipotles. Read more below about substitutions.
- Pineapple Juice- Adds sweetness and a bit of tanginess to the sauce.
- Brown Sugar- Use standard brown sugar or try this low carb sukrin gold sweetener I like to use for less carbs!
- Apple Cider Vinegar- Adds acidity needed in any good BBQ sauce.
- Olive Oil- For cooking and sweating the onions, also adds that shine!
- Worcestershire Sauce- Another addition to standard BBQ sauces that adds a nice umami flavor.
- Spices– Can’t forget the salt, pepper, and garlic powder!
Is honey low carb? What are possible substitutions?
Honey is not a low carb sweetener, but it is a natural and unrefined option (so great if you follow Paleo for instance). If you want to sub with a low carb option, try using my keto simple syrup recipe instead (which uses allulose).
Tips and techniques for applying BBQ sauce to grilled foods:
This whole recipe comes together in about 20 minutes. Store in the fridge until needed and use these tips for when applying it to BBQ-
- If you don’t mind a chunkier sauce, leave it as is. If you prefer a smoother sauce, strain it out like I do!
- Always warm the sauce prior to adding it to hot foods on the grill.
- Add to wraps for making ribs or reduce some sauce with water or apple juice to use when spritzing.
- Don’t apply until the last 30 minutes or so of smoking foods to prevent it from caramelizing too much.
- Feels to acidic? Add a pinch of baking soda to help cut it a bit and use on all your favorite foods as desired!
Homemade Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce
- 1.5 cups Organic Ketchup
- 4 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce diced finely
- 1 small Onion grated
- 1/3 cup Honey
- 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar or sub Sukrin Gold for low carb
- 1/3 cup Pineapple Juice
- 2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1.5 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tsp. Olive Oil
- 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Pepper
- 1 tsp. Smoky Paprika
- In a saucepan, add the olive oil and heat to medium heat. Take the grated onion and pour it into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic powder and paprika to the onion and mix it in.
- Next, add the organic ketchup and diced chipotles in adobo to the pan. Mix in the honey, pineapple juice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk everything together well and reduce the heat to medium low.
- Let it cook on low heat for about 10 minutes or so, stir occasionally. Season it with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- Let it cool to room temperature and store for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge.