The Trick BBQ Master Aaron Franklin Uses To Prevent Sauces From Burning On The Grill - Exclusive

Aaron Franklin has dedicated his life to the pursuit of the tastiest, smokiest, most satisfying barbecue, and the James Beard Award winner wants you to make the best at-home barbecue possible too. If you aren't able to travel to Austin to visit his restaurant, Franklin Barbecue — our pick for the best barbecue restaurant in Texas — you can still cook up some expert dishes inspired by Franklin's barbecue mastery in the comfort of your own backyard. 

During an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Aaron Franklin explained that it all starts with choosing your cooking method. "If you're into slow cooking but you don't have time, maybe slow cooking is not your thing. There's no substitution for time and labor. There is technology out there for pellet cookers and things like that, [which] definitely have a place in this modern world ... The food quality people are capable of achieving off of a pellet cooker, specifically — or other technology-driven cookery — is way better than it's ever been."

After you determine which method of preparation works best for you, your next task is answering the question of how to properly tend to your meat to ensure it stays moist and flavorful. Besides being conscious of your cooker and temperature regulation, one of the best ways to make sure your meat is tender and tasty is to add a sauce — which Franklin says should be done later in the process the higher your heat is to avoid it burning.

Add your sauce 'at the tail end of the cooking process'

Before you slather your barbecue sauce all over your steak, brisket, or ribs, Aaron Franklin wants you to consider how timing affects the way the sauce interacts with your meat. "Rubs are for slower cooks ... I typically cook at a pretty high heat, and usually, rubs burn," he said — and the same is typically true of sauces. They're not meant to be cooked at high temperatures for the length of time it takes to finish the meat.

To avoid burning and ruining the flavor of your barbecue dish, Franklin advised that in general, you should add your sauces to the meat "at the tail end of the cooking process because it'll burn." That said, "It depends on what you're cooking. If you're grilling chicken wings or something like that, you would want to grill them and toss them in some sauce at the end if it's a really intense heat. As your cooking temperature goes lower, the potential to be able to [add] sauce earlier increases."

You can also try thinning the sauce with vinegar

The good news for sauce enthusiasts is that certain meats allow for other tricks to protect your sauces from burning on the grill — but temperature is still key. "For ribs ... there are some tricks to be able to use sauce where maybe it won't burn," Aaron Franklin said. "But if you use sauce on pork, steak, or chicken ... you need to be careful that you're not cooking too hot because that stuff can burn. The sugar can burn really easily."

One of Franklin's tricks involves adding a little vinegar to your chosen sauce. "Thin it out with some vinegar because everything needs more acid all the time ... or even if [you're cooking] chicken, or pork ribs, or something along those lines, I might take [the meat] and slow cook [it]. Then, if I wrap it up in foil, I'll make sure that I don't render any of the fat out. I'll let it render in the bag and mix with a sauce, and that helps it not burn."

"Franklin Smoke" is now available for purchase here. Keep up with all things Aaron Franklin and Franklin Barbecue on Instagram.