Q: Dr. BBQ,
When I follow a traditional American barbecue sauce recipe using tomato paste or tomato puree, the sauce comes out tasting like sweet spaghetti sauce, with a haunting tomato flavor, instead of having a “barbecue sauce taste.” When I buy tomato-based sauce off-the-shelf it doesn’t have this problem. What might I be doing wrong?
A: Hi Adrian,
Tomato-based barbecue sauce needs to be a combination of tomato product, something very sweet, something very tart and usually something spicy. If you add enough of the other things, it will balance out with the tomato product, but here’s a few tips that I use. Ketchup instead of tomato puree etc. Ketchup seems to have a head start to what we want. Yellow mustard and/or vinegar seem to promote a barbecue sauce taste. Be sure to use onion and garlic, fresh or granulated. Avoid bell peppers. Avoid oregano in any recipe. Thyme seems to work if you want an herb taste.Molasses, honey and/or brown sugar are best for the barbecue taste in a sweetener.