Here's How Bobby Flay Jazzes Up Store-Bought Barbecue Sauce

bobby flay smiling
bobby flay smiling - Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It's no secret that Bobby Flay's culinary expertise spans many types of foods and cuisines. After all, he has both a French restaurant and an Italian one, and yet he became famous for his Southwestern style cooking. However, the celebrity chef is perhaps best known for his grilling skills, as he's showcased in his many barbecue-centric cooking shows including "Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction," "BBQ Brawl," "BBQ Blowout," and "Grill It With Bobby Flay." He clearly has the skills to make his own barbecue sauce, and while he often chooses to do so, he also doesn't snub the store-bought kind. Of course, he doesn't use it straight from the bottle and makes sure to jazz it up with a few extra ingredients, as he shared in a clip from "BBQ Brawl" posted on YouTube.

When Flay makes barbecue sauce entirely from scratch, he's been known to add ingredients like pinot noir and even peanut butter. But when it comes to store-bought sauce, he'll only enhance it with Worcestershire sauce, canned chipotle purée, or freshly squeezed lime juice. Though the final result doesn't quite compare to homemade barbecue sauce, the addition of these ingredients gives store-bought a more complex, elevated flavor.

Read more: The 15 Best Store-Bought Barbecue Sauces, Ranked

The 3 Ingredients For A Better Barbecue Sauce

brushing barbecue sauce on ribs
brushing barbecue sauce on ribs - Gmvozd/Getty Images

Store-bought barbecue sauce is definitely convenient, but it often lacks the depth of flavor found in homemade sauce, which is typically simmered over time to allow the flavors to fully develop. Adding a splash of Worcestershire sauce, as Bobby Flay explained in "BBQ Brawl," is an easy way to boost the umami in barbecue sauce. This is due to the glutamate-rich combination of fermented ingredients, including fermented onions, fermented garlic, cured anchovies, and tamarind paste.

To mimic the flavors of traditional smoking methods, store-bought barbecue sauce tends to contain high amounts of liquid smoke, which gives it an artificial-tasting smoke flavor. This is where the addition of chipotle purée comes in. Chipotle purée is actually made with smoked jalapeños, so instead of artificially smoky, the flavor will taste "like you've smoked your barbecue sauce," Flay noted. He adds about a tablespoonful of it, though you can use more or less according to your liking.

Since store-bought barbecue sauce can be overly saccharine, adding lime juice — ideally freshly squeezed from half a lime — can cut through some of that sweetness. Barbecue sauce already has vinegar, so Flay prefers using lime instead because it offers a fresher and brighter flavor.

Bobby Flay's Tips For Jazzing Up Store-Bought Barbecue Sauce

saucer filled with barbecue sauce
saucer filled with barbecue sauce - Goskova Tatiana/Shutterstock

Worcestershire sauce, chipotle purée, and lime juice can certainly make a big difference when added to store-bought barbecue sauce, but Flay advises starting with a higher quality base, such as a locally-made barbecue sauce. The one barbecue sauce he can't stop using is the Bone Suckin' brand, as he revealed while giving a tour of his pantry on Instagram.

Since not every barbecue sauce will taste the same, you can also add more than just these three ingredients. In an interview with Today, Flay said that based on your preferences you can always add a dash of hot sauce if it's not spicy enough, or some honey if it needs some sweetness. If the sauce is too thick, he also recommended adding a splash of water.

No matter what combination of ingredients you decide to add, it's best to warm the ingredients together in a pot. Flay lets them simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, as he said in the "BBQ Brawl" episode. Technically, you could mix the ingredients while they are cold, however, simmering will help the flavors blend seamlessly. By the time the barbecue sauce has warmed through, the flavors will be much more elevated.

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