The Secret Ingredient That Will Change Your Barbecue Sauce Forever

Barbecue sauce is a sticky, sweet, subtly spicy condiment that enhances the flavor of just about anything it touches — from meats, to veggies, to pizza, to sandwiches and burgers, even to savory cocktails like Bloody Marys. Like many foods, barbecue sauce is culinarily versatile and culturally symbolic. There are several regional BBQ recipes throughout the U.S. — mainly Texas, the Carolinas, Memphis, and Kansas City — all with their own distinctive tastes, textures, recommended uses, and preparation methods.

Typically made from a mixture of ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, cumin, spices, and a few other essential ingredients, barbecue sauce is about as easy to whip up at home as it is to buy pre-made and bottled. There is one surprising product that you can add to your barbecue sauce to take the flavor up a notch. Here's a hint: It's a popular type of soda that is commonly enjoyed as a creamy treat.

Add root beer to your barbecue sauce for a sweet, earthy tang

Next time you nosh on a slab of ribs or throw some chicken wings on the grill, be sure to include root beer on your grocery shopping list. Yep, you read that right: Root beer, the brown-colored, fizzy, satisfyingly sweet, nostalgia-inducing, iconic soft drink, has become a game-changing ingredient for barbecue sauce enthusiasts everywhere. With its multifaceted flavor and robust character, root beer has the power to turn barbecue sauce even more special, thereby creating even more finger-licking good dishes.

Cortney Johnson, an Atlanta-based cook and food blogger, recently shared a mouthwatering recipe for a root beer-infused wing glaze on her Instagram. Johnson used a medley of Sprecher root beer, light brown sugar, ketchup, and Dijon ground mustard to concoct a delectable chicken wing sauce that "ended up on the fingers, chin, and cheeks." The Food Network also offers up a simple barbecue sauce recipe that calls for root beer, in addition to the basics. Clearly, this legendary soda can do so much more than provide a refreshing dessert libation when mixed with vanilla ice cream.