It’s all about the barbecue sauce

There’s a new favorite barbecue sauce at my house

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My family's new favorite barbecue sauce is delicious on slow cooker ribs.
My family's new favorite barbecue sauce is delicious on slow cooker ribs.
Lisa Boykin Batts | Times


For years — decades actually — my family and I used the same barbecue sauce.

It’s a simple recipe that a neighbor shared with my mama when I was a teenager. It only has a few ingredients: ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, water, salt and pepper. We’d sometimes make a double batch and keep the leftovers in the refrigerator for the next time we needed it, which would usually be soon.

There’s no telling how many times my mama and I made that sauce for barbecue chicken or maybe grilled pork. We shared the recipe with family members who loved it, too.

I’m not sure what made me try a different recipe — probably the itch for something new. But a year or so ago I decide to experiment. I saw a Pioneer Woman barbecue sauce recipe with the basic ingredients of our favorite sauce, but with some additions. I wasn’t keen on adding some of the ingredients, including garlic and molasses, so I adapted it to what I knew my husband and I would enjoy in our empty nest household.

I had never cooked with maple syrup, but I decided to buy a bottle for this recipe; I’m so glad I did! I think it’s at least partially responsible for the thickness of this yummy sauce. My husband has always said he likes a thick barbecue sauce that sticks to the meat, and this recipe does just that.

The recipe starts with a handful of onions briefly cooked in some canola oil. I’ve skipped this step several times if I’m in a hurry and don’t have leftover onions already chopped and in the freezer. Once the onions are starting to get translucent, add in the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worchestershire sauce and maple syrup. Season with some salt and pepper to taste, and let your barbecue sauce simmer and fill the kitchen with the heavenly smell of supper cooking.

Since we started making this recipe, I haven’t made our traditional favorite sauce. I use the new recipe for chicken cooked on the grill or in the slow cooker as well as for several pork recipes. On several occasions, I’ve bought a rotisserire chicken from the grocery store, shredded it and warmed it in a pot with some of our sauce. I use the recipe so often that I keep it written out on the refrigerator, secured with a magnet.

One of our favorite ways to use the sauce is on slow cooker pork ribs. I’ve made a version of this recipe for several years now but with a sauce that includes a little oregano. This version with our favorite sauce is even better than the first, we think.

Give our sauce a try, either on these ribs or for another meal you are preparing.

Batts Family Barbecue Sauce

1/4 cup chopped onions

Canola oil (omit the oil if you don’t add onions to the sauce)

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Add a little canola oil to a medium saucepan and add onions, cooking until they start to become translucent. Add all other ingredients and simmer over low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

I’ve made the sauce without onions several times; if you don’t use the onions, omit the canola oil.

Double the recipe if needed.

Slow Cooker Ribs

1/2 rack of ribs

2 recipes of barbecue sauce

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees to 450 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper (for easy cleanup).

Remove ribs from package and place on baking pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes on one side. Remove from oven and turn ribs. Cook for 10 minutes on the other side. The ribs will start to brown in places.

Add about 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce in bottom of slow cooker. (I use a slow cooker liner.) Cut ribs in half and place one half in slow cooker. Pour about 1/4 cup of sauce over ribs. Place the other half of the ribs in the cooker and pour about 1/4 cup of sauce over the top. Close lid and cook on low for 8 hours.

After the ribs are cooked, carefully remove from slow cooker and place on large platter or cookie sheet. I used a pancake turner the last time to remove them for the slow cooker and had good results. Many times, the meat will fall off the bones when you remove the ribs from the slow cooker. Discard the cooking liquid in the slow cooker. I throw away the old liner and replace with a new one. Put ribs back in the slow cooker and pour about a 1/2 cup of sauce over top of each half. Put the lid on and cook on low for 30 minutes before serving. Use remaining sauce at the table. If you don’t want to return the ribs to the slow cooker, you could skip this step and add sauce at the table or you could place the ribs on a sheet pan, pour sauce on top and briefly cook in a low-heat oven.