Chipotle peppers are known for having a smoky sweetness, with a slow but strong heat. The spice is what makes them so great, but the sweetness is fairly unique and lets chipotle work very well when paired with some much sweeter things. Honey and chipotle is one of my favorite combinations for a salsa. It wasn’t a stretch to make it into a smoky sweet barbecue sauce – perfect for pairing with anything grilled.
My sauce has a ketchup base, sweetened with a good amount of honey and spiked with a bit of Worcestershire sauce and vinegar for tang. And, of course, it has chipotle peppers. I used a food processor to blend everything together. Mincing up whole chipotles is effective, but wasn’t enough to provide the smooth consistency that I really like in a barbecue sauce. Using a food processor also ensures that the sugar will be well incorporated into the sauce. I definitely recommend a food processor, if you have one available to use.
The sauce is quite thick and has a consistency that is similar to ketchup. It thickens up even more once it has been refrigerated, since honey tends to thicken when it is kept below room temperature. If you prefer your sauce to be slightly thinner for any reason, you can add a tablespoon or three of water to the mixture when you’re making it. If (like me, in this case) you like your sauce to be quite thick so that it can adhere generously to anything you dip into it, just make the recipe as-is.
Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
pinch ground pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth, 1-2 minutes. If a thinner consistency is desired, add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Makes about 1 cup.
Recipe can be doubled for more, and the level of chipotle pepper can be adjusted to suit personal preferences.