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Sweet Tomato-Based Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Updated on July 20, 2007
sweet tomato-based barbecue sauce
sweet tomato-based barbecue sauce

When my husband and I decided to make Brunswick stew last weekend, we wanted to make our own barbecue sauce for it, since it is one of the main ingredients to that sweet stew. We were left with the dilemma, however, of deciding what sort of barbecue sauce to make. As anyone who has lived in the South would know, there are as many barbecue sauce varieties as there are Southern towns--probably more!

Brunswick stew really needs a sweeter than average tomato-based barbecue sauce. We also knew that it should be fairly simple but flavorful and spicy but not overpoweringly so. It should have a smoky sweet flavor. We set out on our research, and we found a great recipe from Spanky's Seafood Grill and Bar that was close to what we were looking for. With some changes and alterations, we had a sauce recipe that worked well for our stew.

This tomato-based barbecue sauce uses catsup instead of tomato sauce and the other ingredients combine to make it sweet and tart, spicy and smoky. And it will do well for more than just Brunswick stew!

This recipe is vegetarian and vegan.

Sweet Tomato-Based Barbecue Sauce Recipe

makes 3 cups


  • 1/4 cup butter (margarine to make this vegan)

  • 1 1/4 cups catsup
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 Tablespoon finely minced or crushed garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Tablespoons Chipotle Pepper Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 1/3 of a fresh lemon

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar


1. Finely mince or crush the garlic, cut the lemon, grind the pepper, and gather all other ingredients.

2. Melt the butter over low heat, in a large saucepan.

3. When the butter is melted, add the catsup, yellow mustard, and apple cider vinegar. Mix it until smooth and evenly blended.

4. Now add the minced or crushed garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, Liquid Smoke, ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Firmly squeeze the juice from the 1/3 lemon. Mix it until smooth and evenly blended.

5. Now add the brown sugar and stir thoroughly.

6. Stirring constantly, gradually increase your heat until the sauce reaches a simmer. Make sure that it does not start boiling. Continue to stir constantly while the sauce simmers for ten minutes.

7. Use with something tasty! This sauce recipe works perfectly for Brunswick stew, of course. (Coming soon: a recipe for Brunswick stew, and another for vegetarian Brunswick stew). Barbecue chicken or pork would be an obvious choice, but there are countless options. For an unusual twist that vegetarians can take part in, here is a recipe for Barbecue tempeh. Be creative! If you do not plan to use it immediately, let it cool and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


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      calypso_jimmy 5 years ago

      I can see how this would go with an upper-scale Brunswick Stew. Thanks for the ideas. Seems like there are lots of ways to play with this recipe and make it fit into a lot of stuff, in addition to maybe cleaning out the refrigerator and spice rack a bit!

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      Sfri 7 years ago

      I had the same thought about the worchestershire sauce.. I didn't know it had anchovies in it for some time after coming vegetarian. I just wanted to add that most margarines are not naturally vegan either.. you will need to check the ingredients, but there are at least a couple. This recipe does sound good.. I may give it a try.

    • Melissa Ray Davis profile image

      Melissa Ray Davis 9 years ago from Swannanoa, NC

      Whoops, Josh, thank you. You're right.

    • profile image

      Josh 9 years ago

      I couldnt' help but point out that Worcestershire sauce is normally not vegan, it contains fish ingredients. There are several vegan recipes online like this one or you can purchase some at your local health foods store. Just FYI :)

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      Maria C 9 years ago from Philippines

      We also use tomato catsup in making sweet barbecue sauce. Or you can go further and try banana catsup instead.