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Easy Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

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This Easy Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce is a simple and delicious homemade sauce that works well with pork ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and grilled chicken. 

Dr. Pepper adds a nice sweet base to any barbecue sauce. This recipe yields a thick, delicious, and perfect sauce to slather on beef, chicken, pork, and even slow-smoked lamb. Make a double batch and serve this Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce at the table. That way, your loved ones can enjoy a little extra. This sauce is a great addition to any barbecue meal and is the perfect condiment for those die-hard Dr. Pepper fans.

Easy Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

Where did Dr. Pepper originate?

As a Texan, I feel it’s only right to give the nod to Dr. Pepper. It is the oldest soft drink in the United States and was invented by Texan pharmacist Charles Alderton in the 1880s. His concoction became all the rage, and people fondly called his drink the “Waco,” after the city where Alderton invented it. 

Why use Dr. Pepper in BBQ sauce?

Dr. Pepper is sugary drink with a slight pepper finish that works beautifully with barbecue. Its rich undertones and caramel sweetness liven up a homemade BBQ sauce. This sauce is commonly used on pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and sliced brisket. This easy Doctor Pepper BBQ sauce recipe uses simple pantry ingredients. 

Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce 101

We start by sweating chopped sweet onions and minced garlic. The rest of the recipe ingredients, sans the butter, are added to the pot, then simmered until nice and thick. After that, the butter is added to the sauce to help give it a silky appearance and cut the sharp, acidic elements. The sauce is then blended, returned to the pot, and used as a baste or serving sauce. You can also store it in the fridge for later use.

Note on liquid smoke: While I did not add this ingredient to the sauce, you are more than welcome to do so. This recipe makes about 3 cups of D Pepper BBQ Sauce, so I recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke. You don’t need a lot! If you are opposed to using liquid smoke, reach for a 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika. A little goes a long way.

Ingredients

  • Ketchup
  • Dr. Pepper or a similar soda
  • Sweet onion
  • Brown sugar (dark)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Unsalted butter
  • Olive oil
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make a Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan.
  • Add chopped sweet onions and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often. The object is to “sweat” the onions, not brown them.
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except butter and liquid smoke (optional). 
  • Let the sauce simmer for 8-10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce from heat, stir in butter, and optional liquid smoke. 
  • Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes, then pour it into a blender or food processor. You might need to blend in batches. 
  • Puree mixture until smooth and thick. Use immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week after preparation. Reheat before using.
Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

How much sauce should I use?

  • Sandwiches and Side Sauce: This recipe makes roughly 3 cups of Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce. If using it for sandwiches, average 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce per person. You’ll have 11-12 servings total. And that is a generous helping! You also can use a smaller amount like 2 tablespoons per serving or 6 tablespoons per pound of meat.
  • Basting ribs: Apply 1 cup of BBQ sauce per slab of spare ribs, 3/4 cup for St. Louis cut (or trimmed spares), and roughly 1/2 cup for baby back ribs.
  • Basting chicken: Use 2 tablespoons of sauce per chicken drumstick or thigh. Use 3 tablespoons per chicken breast. 
  • Applying BBQ sauce: Brush sauce on during the last half of cooking time for grilled chicken and the last hour for smoked ribs. Apply a thin coating every 10-15 minutes until done. Ideally, you should have 3-4 layers of BBQ sauce on the meat by the time it’s done. 
Easy Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

Easy Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

Dr. Pepper adds a nice sweet base to any barbecue sauce. This recipe yields a thick, delicious, and perfect sauce to slather on beef, chicken, pork, and even slow smoked lamb. Make a double batch and serve this Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce at the table. That way your loved ones can enjoy a little extra. This sauce is truly a great addition to any barbecue meal, and is the perfect condiment for those die hard Dr. Pepper fans. Recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: BBQ sauce, BBQ sauce recipe, dr.pepper bbq sauce
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 141kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups Dr. Pepper or a similar soda
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Add chopped onions and cook over medium to medium-low heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. The object is to "sweat" the onions, not brown them, so adjust the heat accordingly. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except butter and liquid smoke. Let sauce simmer for 8-10 minutes over medium-low to low heat. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove from heat, stir in butter and liquid smoke. Allow sauce to cool for 10 minutes then pour into a blender or food processor. You might need to do this in batches. Puree mixture until smooth and thick. Use immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week after preparation. Reheat before serving.
    *See notes section below for usage.

Notes

How much sauce should I use?

  • Sandwiches and Side Sauce: This recipe makes roughly 3 cups of Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce. If using it for sandwiches, average 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce per person. You’ll have 11-12 servings total. And that is a generous helping! You also can use a smaller amount like 2 tablespoons per serving or 6 tablespoons per pound of meat.
  • Basting ribs: Apply 1 cup of BBQ sauce per slab of spare ribs, 3/4 cup for St. Louis cut (or trimmed spares), and roughly 1/2 cup for baby back ribs.
  • Basting chicken: Use 2 tablespoons of sauce per chicken drumstick or thigh. Use 3 tablespoons per chicken breast. 
  • Applying BBQ sauce: Brush sauce on during the last half of cooking time for grilled chicken and the last hour for smoked ribs. Apply a thin coating every 10-15 minutes until done. Ideally, you should have 3-4 layers of BBQ sauce on the meat by the time it’s done. 

Nutrition

Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 432mg | Potassium: 219mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 314IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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