The Washington Post

All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce

All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce 2.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Smoke Signals Barbecue Sauce Contest May 25, 2011

No note was included with Keith Williams’s sauce recipe contest entry. He let the sauce speak for itself. With ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar, it appears to be pretty basic. And it is. But the use of real garlic, as opposed to powder, and the addition of lemon zest, along with the smartly balanced proportions, transform this into a refreshing, zingy, flat-out fabulous version of a sauce every barbecuing household should have on hand. Williams says it's good on ribs and chicken.

He won second place in the Smoke Signals Barbecue Contest.

Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for 7 to 10 days.

Servings: 2 cups
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Stir in the ketchup, water, vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The sauce is ready to use, or it can be cooled and refrigerated for 7 to 10 days.

Rate it

Recipe Source

From Keith Williams of Hollywood, Md.

Tested by Jim Shahin.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Avg. Rating (13)

Rate this recipe

Nutritional Facts

Calories per tablespoon serving: 30

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 2g 3%

Saturated Fat: 0g 0%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 100mg 4%

Total Carbohydrates: 4g 1%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 0g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle