Sweet Tomato-Based Barbecue Sauce Recipe

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!

sweet tomato-based barbecue sauce

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. 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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