Espresso Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is easy to make at home. The basic flavor profile is:

  • 4 parts ketchup
  • 1 part vinegar (usually cider vinegar)
  • 1 part sweetener (molasses, brown sugar, honey, or a mix)
  • spices and seasonings

The spices and seasonings are where you can make the sauce your own. Pull out a bottle of your “secret recipe” barbecue sauce, and your friends will think you’re a barbecue savant. My problem? My secret recipes never stay secret. I can’t help myself. I have to share the ingredients, even if you’re just feigning interest to be polite. Is it any wonder I have a food blog?

So, what is my secret ingredient? A shot of espresso.
I need my espresso in the morning. NEED. And I’m not up to grinding and tamping first thing in the morning. I want my 2 shots of espresso, and I want them now. That’s why I use a Nespresso. No muss, no fuss, and surprisingly good espresso. I know the pods are expensive. I know the pods are not environmentally friendly. Though Nespresso is working on that. This is one of my extravagances, and I try to make up for with the rest of my (admittedly typical suburban dad) life.

Oh, and I add chipotle en adobo to the sauce, for a hint of smoke and heat. Not too much; this is barbecue sauce, not hot sauce.

Recipe: Espresso Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Inspired by: Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue Sauces

Cooking time: 1 minute


  • 15 ounces ketchup (I prefer non-HFCS ketchup)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 shot espresso (or 2 ounces of coffee)
  • 1 tablespoon pureed chipotle en adobo, or 1 canned chipotle, with adobo sauce, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or substitute cheap yellow mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
Brewing the basic ingredient


1. Whisk it

Whisk all the ingredients until completely smooth. It’s ready to use right away, but tastes better if it is refrigerated overnight to let the flavors mingle.

The sauce will last for up to two months in the refrigerator.


  • Storage: I have a little squirt bottle for BBQ sauce, but it only holds a couple of cups. I pour the rest of the sauce back into the ketchup bottle for long term storage. I write “BBQ Sauce” all over it with a sharpie, to try to avoid confusion, but the kids have learned that they need to check the color of the bottle before they assume it’s ketchup.
  • More sauce: This recipe scales up easily; double or triple the recipe if you have a larger bottle of ketchup.
  • If you don’t care about high fructose corn syrup, go ahead and get regular ketchup. It will taste the same.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

My Basic Barbecue Sauce, if you want an even simpler recipe.

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  1. I bought a six pack of them at a restaurant supply store a while back, similar to these:

  2. Marcy Holmes /

    I’m curious where you got that squeeze bottle…

  3. Carolyn /

    This is GOOD! Eating it on a steak sandwich right now…

  4. Great! Glad you’re enjoying it.

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