This sweet and slightly spicy Sassy Chocolate BBQ Sauce is lovely and a fun one to try for your summertime grilling. It is easy to adjust the seasonings to create your personal customized sauce that everyone will be asking you to make for family meals and parties as we begin to come together again.
June is prime grilling season and I am out nearly every day, firing up the BBQ, taking advantage of the beautiful weather. I am always looking for a new way to change up our meals, and adding a different style of sauce is one of the easiest ways.
It has been a while since I posted a savory chocolate recipe, but I’m always on the lookout for something fun. I’ve found one for you, a recipe originally on Saveur that I’ve adapted a bit, a BBQ sauce with dark chocolate and cocoa powder!
BBQ sauce may not be the first place you would think to find chocolate, but this one has a double whammy of both chocolate chips and cocoa powder. The base is good old-fashioned ketchup and it is made with ingredients that are already in your pantry. Best of all it is a snap to make and doesn’t take a lot of planning or time. You can have it made in less than 20 minutes! The next time you are heading to the BBQ to grill chicken or other meats, whip up a batch of this sauce and watch your family devour it!
You can’t really taste the chocolate, but it adds a lot of character to the sauce. It is thick and rich, the tang of the vinegar balanced by the brown sugar. If you like a sweeter sauce, add more sugar. If you like a spicier sauce, add chili powder or more chipotle. You can even throw a little Sriracha or other hot sauce in if you want. Customize this to suit your personal tastes!
This is one of the fastest “from scratch” recipes you can make and totally easy. Just a little chopping, but if you don’t want to do that, check your local grocer’s produce section – they often sell already chopped and prepared ingredients to cook with. If you can’t find it there, hit the salad bar – they always have a wonderful selection of already prepared vegetables to choose from!
This is a bold barbecue sauce that would be delicious on grilled chicken, pork, beef, or turkey. It would give a delightful kick to pulled pork. If you’ve never made your own sauce before, give it a try. I know you will love how fresh it is, the flexibility to make your own flavor profile, and having complete control of the ingredients. No chemicals or things you can’t pronounce – just great ingredients that taste even better when they are combined!
I loved this Sassy Chocolate BBQ Sauce brushed over our grilled chicken tonight and will be using it later in the week in another recipe. Multipurpose recipes are the perfect way to make our lives easier. Double the batch and freeze some for future meals!
Have a fabulous week and Happy Chocolate Monday!
Key Ingredients for Sassy Chocolate BBQ Sauce:
- Butter or olive oil
- Onion, red bell pepper, garlic
- Dark chocolate chips (do Not use milk chocolate!)
- Brown sugar, cider vinegar, cocoa powder, Worcestershire sauce
- Dry mustard, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper
- Smoked paprika, ground coriander (optional), red pepper flakes
My first version of the sauce is a little chunky from the vegetables for serving at the table. I like the texture. I took part of that sauce and pureed it in the blender to get it really smooth and that is what I used to baste the chicken on the grill. A smoother sauce is easier to mop on meats.
If there isn’t much liquid in the bottom of your pan and you want to use your immersion blender, tip the pan to move the liquid to one side. Make sure the base of the blender is fully submerged or it will splatter all over you and the kitchen. If the sauce still isn’t smooth enough for you, you can transfer it to a blender or food processor and puree it more.
How to make Sassy Chocolate BBQ Sauce:
- Sauté the onions and peppers until soft then add the garlic and ketchup
- Add chocolate chips and cook until melted, stirring
- Stir in remaining ingredients; use an immersion blender to puree some or all of the sauce
- Use the pureed sauce in a bowl to brush on grilling meats near the end of cooking so it doesn’t burn
- Pass remaining sauce at the table
What if I don’t have a blender, do I have to purée the sauce?
No, you can leave it as is and it will be a little chunky from the vegetables. I like the texture in the sauce, but a smooth pureed sauce is easier for brushing on the meats. Cook the onions and peppers a little longer so they break down farther. Always pour a little of your sauce in a bowl to use for brushing (use a silicone pastry brush), then pass the reserved sauce at the table.
What is an immersion blender?
This is one of my favorite kitchen tools and is invaluable if you make pureed sauces or soups often. Sometimes called a stick blender, it is a long slender tube with rotating blades on one end. Insert the blade end into the sauce and be sure the head of the blender is always completely covered with the liquid while it is running or it will splash you.
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links):
Most of the ingredients in this recipe are commonly gluten-free but always check the labels to be certain. I have noticed that when I buy organic versions (like ketchup), they tend to have fewer ingredients and seldom have any containing gluten. This is just my observation, you may have a different experience where you shop.
- 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, minced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1-1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/3 cup (2 oz) dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 4 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is gluten-free)
- 3 tsp dry mustard
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander, optional
- 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1/2 cup water, or as needed
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook for about 3 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds or until fragrant but don’t let it get brown or it will become bitter. As soon as you can smell the garlic stir in the ketchup. Once combined add the chocolate chips and stir until fully melted.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the sauce is blended. Cook on medium until the sauce is thickened and the flavors have blended, about 3 minutes. If desired, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce or use a blender. Add more water if needed to get the sauce to the consistency you like.
- Set to the side if using right away. Otherwise, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week.
- Because of the sugar in the sauce, you do not want to put it on your grilled foods too early or it will burn. Grill the chicken or meats until nearly done. Using a little of the sauce poured into a bowl, lightly brush the meat and finish the final minutes of cooking on the grill to set the glaze, flipping once to coat both sides. Pass the reserved sauce at the table.
Adapted from a recipe on Saveur
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 637mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 1g
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This post was first shared in July 2015. The article was updated in 2020.