Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

I’m kind of getting on a little apple kick here in late May. It’s because I posted the recipe out for my Cider Glazed Ribs so I just had to put out the recipe for this Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce to complement them. And to tell the truth, I have a slaw coming up with apples in it, too. That’s my Tangy Apple Cabbage Slaw.


Tangy Apple Cabbage Slaw

Tangy Apple Cabbage Slaw


Maybe I should have saved the posts for fall, with the apple theme and all. but none of these items, the sauce, the ribs or the slaw are overwhelmingly apple. They just have a slight hint and that makes them all go together so well. Besides I just think all of this would be fantastic for Memorial Day Weekend. Or anytime this summer. And I am sooo ready for summer – how bout you?

About Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce:

This is an interesting sauce. Most of the ingredients are the usual suspects you’d expect in a barbecue sauce. What sets it apart is the deep richness of the apple butter and the wee touch of hooch. There’s a little bourbon if you likey likey or not if you don’t for a husky backnote that offsets the sweet. And of course, a little liquid smoke to lend that smoky taste. If you haven’t used liquid smoke, it’s really not scary, It’s just the distilled essence of smoke and is made in just about the same way distilled water is. I have it on my Top Secret Super Stealth Arsenal of Ingredients.

This barbecue sauce would be fantastic on almost anything, but I think that anything pork has an affinity for the slight hint of apple that comes through in the sauce. Maybe some pulled pork and of course, these or any ribs. But then I wouldn’t turn out a burger slathered with a little Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce, maybe one topped with onion rings.

This barbecue sauce reminds me a bit of a kicked up and just a little more robust Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce, so don’t be worried that it tastes a lot of apples; it’ s barely there, just a hint of it. I did notice that it didn’t keep as long as some barbecue sauces in the fridge, probably due to the higher fruit content and the butter, but it was fine for a couple, three weeks in the fridge.


Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

Making Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce:

This is a pretty simple sauce to make. You’ll need to saute your onions in the butter, add the garlic then there’s really nothing to the rest except dumping in the remaining ingredients. Then you’ll let the sauce simmer, stirring now and then until it’s gorgeous and glossy and thick. Keep in mind that, like most barbecue sauces, it will be a little thicker once cooled.

When you make this barbecue sauce, use a larger pan than you think you’ll need, first because as this thickens, it’s going to spurt and sputter, and secondly, the larger surface area helps speed the reduction along.

It’s up to you if you want to serve this sauce as is or blend and strain or just strain. I like it just fine chunky but not everyone “gets” that, and texture in a barbecue sauce might bother some people. As you can see from the pics, I left mine on the chunky side, but I did take care to cut the onions pretty finely.


Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

Saving Money on Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce:

For me, making this barbecue sauce was actually a bit of a money-saving proposition. See, I had a jar that was opened and might have just languished in the fridge. I guess I just lost my taste for it and this barbecue sauce put it to good use rather than letting it go to waste.

This is a great recipe to make if someone gives you apple butter as a gift. (Don’t we all love to have that friend? Thank you Jenni!) And of course, if you can your own, you’re likely to have it a lot cheaper than if you buy it. It’s perfect anytime you might have an abundance of Apple Butter. If you run out and buy the apple butter, well that does up the price and it’s then it’s not as inexpensive to make as some sauces. I think this sauce is so lovely it’s worth a little bit of an extra expense.

Since barbecue sauce is so often a condiment made from other condiments, you’ll use a quite a few of them when you make most. I do like to watch the summer sales, especially around the summer holidays and stock up for the year on all my condiments. There are sporadic sales on condiments right before the Superbowl, and this year, I noticed around March Madness, but they don’t come near to beating out the summer sales prices.


Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce


Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

This Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce with a touch of bourbon might just be your new signature sauce! Try it on a burger or on ribs.

  • Author: mollie
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiments
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed & minced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 jar, 8 to 10 ounces (measurement does not need to be exact) apple butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (or bourbon) (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)


In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add onion and saute, stirring now and then until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add in garlic and stir for a moment longer just until fragrant.

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, stirring now and then, until reduced to desired consistency, 10 to 15 minutes or so.

Store in a jar in the refrigerator; lasts for two to three weeks.


Use a larger pan than you think necessary; this sauce can sputter and spurt as it reduces.

Keywords: Alcohol, apple butter, Barbecue, Barbecue Sauce, bourbon, brandy, Condiments, ketchup, liquid smoke, Vinegar.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!


I’ll be sharing my Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce this week at Fiesta Friday #277. Thank you to the co-hosts this week, Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

22 thoughts on “Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Ithink it’s the perfect pairing for pork. It would probably be great with other things, too, but pork and apples just go together! 🙂

  1. I’ve made apple butter barbecue sauce once before–it was fantastic! Apple butter’s a bit harder to get my hands on where I live now and it makes me sad. It’s soooo good. This sauce looks yummy Mollie 🙂

      • FrugalHausfrau

        That’s a great idea, and Sherri, that would be a great post for this fall! All though I hate to think about fall right now when we’ve hardly even had a taste of spring!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks Jess! I forget – you’re in California? I know down south where my daughter lives in GA apples aren’t as abundant and they cost a lot more, and you don’t see as much made from them.

      • Yep. I used to live in Michigan and it was everywhere there but not so much here. Good apples in general are either seasonal or expensive on the west side 😉

        • FrugalHausfrau

          Just be sure to check my latest post on Happy memorial day and you’ll see a picture of my Jess
          she just got married

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh my gosh me too! But I do have to be exact on my site here which is probably the fussiest part of blogging. 🙂


  2. Oh am I excited to make this! I start searching for apple butter. I usually make it in the fall, but such a small batch that I’m pretty sure there’s none in my freezer. Live and learn!!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks Mimi. I just love this stuff and I think you will too I wanted to just eat it with a spoon.

  3. Pingback: Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce — Frugal Hausfrau | My Meals are on Wheels

  4. grammasherriSherri Rochester

    Had this at a restaurant on my birthday. Hubby loved it! He was so excited when I told him that you posted this!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh my gosh I hope he loves it as much as we do because it might be a little different! Of course you can always tinker a little bit if you need to – add a little extra sugar if you want it sweeter or go heavier on the vinegar if you want it tarter and so on.

Hearing from you makes my day! Comment below.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.