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the sauce that made firemen weep

There’s this age-old belief that firemen are the best cooks.

Um, not so much.

Every year to raise money for Special Olympics the Fire Department and Police Department square off in a food competition.

For three years running, we’ve soundly whooped the Fire Department.

This was the BBQ Sauce recipe that I made for the police side when we trounced them in the BBQ Rib competition. It’s very easy to make and you’ll be surprised by how much better it taste compared to the bottled store variety. If you’re into canning, the sauce will stay good for up to six months. If not, it will stay good in a jar in the fridge for a couple of months.

The Winning Police Department BBQ Sauce

Makes 6 cups sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup (if you’re ambitions, you can make from-scratch ketchup)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses (unsulfured if you can find it)
  • 4 teaspoons hickory-flavored liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on desired hotness)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


1) In a large pot over medium heat, mix together ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, wine vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke, and butter. Add garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

2) Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. For thicker sauce, simmer longer (I usually simmer up to 30 minutes). Can sauce, or place in a tightly sealed container and store in the fridge.

Ideas for use:

  • Brush on any meat during the last 10 minutes of cooking
  • To die for on ribs
  • Makes mouth-watering pulled pork
  • Great in baked beans

Happy Cooking! 


About Jess Keller

I'm an author, speaker and chocolate eater who's chasing hard after my dreams.

5 responses »

  1. This looks fantastic! I imagine this works great in situations where one person likes sweet BBQ and another maybe a bit more spicy, so you could customize the batches to accomodate flavor preference. Although, I admit to being a little afraid of “liquid smoke”. What is that, exactly?

    • Liquid smoke is an amazing thing. It gives the meat “I’ve been simmering over an open fire all day” taste that makes the eater’s eyes roll back in their head out of pure delishousness. You can find it right by the BBQ sauce in your grocery store usually, if not, I’ll send you one of my bottles (I have like 6 unopened bottles in my kitchen…just in case there was a liquid smoke famine or something).

  2. This sounds yummmmyyyy! I have about 5 bottles of baby rays in my pantry, once I run out of that I will be making this for sure 🙂


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