Why Does Your BBQ Sauce Keep Burning?

You don't have to be a grill master to know that the sauce is one of the most important aspects of barbecue. You can marinate the meat perfectly, grill it at the ideal temperature, and time everything down to the second, but if the barbecue sauce gets burned in the process, it ruins the overall outcome. The last thing you want when you bite into a juicy baby back rib is a mouthful of charred barbecue sauce. 

You might assume that accidentally burning the barbecue sauce could have something to do with poor grilling technique, or low quality sauce. However, according to Corky's Ribs and BBQ, neither of these factors are to blame. The truth is that it all depends on the sugar content in the barbecue sauce. Sugar makes up a major component in barbecue sauce, and especially if you're using one that's labeled as "sweet and spicy" or "honey glaze," you can best believe it'll burn fast. That's because the sugar caramelizes as a result of prolonged exposure to high heat.

How to prevent barbecue sauce from burning

Preventing the barbecue sauce from burning is all a matter of knowing the ingredients of the sauce you're working with and adding the sauce at the right time. Jake's Famous Foods explains that sugar burns at between 265 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you're barbecuing at a temperature higher than this, you should avoid adding the barbecue sauce early on. If you do, even barbecue sauce that isn't high in sugar will eventually burn. 

Jake's Famous Foods therefore recommends brushing on the sauce at three different stages: First, when there's only ten minutes of cooking time remaining; Second, when there are just five minutes left before you plan to take the meat off the heat; And finally, right before serving. This time frame gives the meat a candied crust without risking any burning, and ensures you have barbecue sauce instead of burned sugar in every bite.