Southwestern BBQ Sauce

The simple addition of a few chipotles in adobo sauce to what is normally just a great regular-ole tomato-based BBQ sauce really makes for a totally different, utterly fantastic sauce for ribs, chicken, pulled pork… you name it. Chipotles (smoke-dried jalapenos) are one of my favorite things. I love the combination of heat and smokiness. They’re perfect for things like this southwestern BBQ sauce.
southwestern-bbq-sauceI rubbed down a rack of St. Louis-style ribs with homemade Cajun seasoning then smoked it for 6 hours until the meat was nice and tender.¬† I then brushed on some of this great southwestern BBQ sauce let the ribs smoke for another 15 minutes, just long enough to set the sauce up just a bit. It’s not a thin sauce, and it’s not a thick sauce. I’d call it just the right consistency for things like ribs. You know you’re going to get messy eating them, but there’s no reason to drown in the sauce or to have it all just roll off the ribs and down your arms.

Also try my strawberry chipotle BBQ sauce.

Southwestern BBQ Sauce

Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 cups


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Adobo sauce from the chipotles
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions and saute until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and the chipotles and cook for 1 minute.
  • Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and lime juice.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Add the adobo sauce, tomato sauce, molasses, mustard, bay leaves and salt.
  • Increase heat and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and continue simmering, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is the desired thickness.
  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly before straining through a fine-mesh strainer.

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