Make An Easy, Tangy BBQ Sauce With 3 Ingredients You Already Have

Summer is the season for barbecue. Yet as tasty as your ribs, sliders, and brisket may be, they'll turn out sad and dry without the addition of barbecue sauce. There are plenty of tips, tricks, and key ingredients celebrities and home cooks alike swear by to create the perfect sauce — like citrus, apple cider vinegar, and bourbon, the latter of which boasts a whopping 14 delicious options that you can incorporate into your recipe. But while these tasty additives can be fun ways to experiment, they're not all necessary at once. Barbecue, after all, doesn't have to be complicated to be mouth-watering.

So whether you want to go the simple route with your sauce or you're in a hurry, all you need are three ingredients to whip up an easy, tasty condiment. The most crucial, and one that you'll find in practically any barbecue sauce recipe in the U.S., is ketchup, which brings a mix of acidity, sweetness, and umami flavor. From there, you'll want to build on that sweet and tangy contrast with ingredients that offer each. If you're looking for a basic recipe that draws on ingredients you likely already have, however, go with a combo of ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard.

Experiment with your sauce while sticking to an easy formula

The beauty of this barbecue sauce formula is that it's easily customizable, meaning you can adjust the flavor to whatever suits your palette. While ketchup is a required ingredient here, feel free to get creative with the sweet and tangy elements. For the former, try swapping out brown sugar for honey, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, or agave. Or, think outside the box even more with a blueberry reduction, muscovado sugar, or a dose of apple sauce.

When you're trying to up the tang of your condiment, experiment by replacing the mustard with Worcestershire sauce, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar. Or, think beyond regular yellow mustard by using its tangier cousin, Dijon, or incorporating a dry mustard powder. And to get even more creative, turn to fruit for that dose of sourness. Orange, lemon, and pineapple juice are winners, and some kimchi juice can bring heat along with its tang. But no matter which ingredients you choose, use about 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of your sweet ingredient, and about 3 tablespoons of your tangy option for every cup of ketchup. Taste and adjust from there, then enjoy your sauce with all your favorite barbecued meats.