Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

This Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce has it all: sweetness from pineapple, smokiness from tequila and spiciness from cayenne (which is optional) (or is it?).

It’s easy to make and goes with alllll the things. Pork, chicken, beef, veggies, your mouth – it’s the perfect partner.

And guess what? If you don’t want the tequila, you can leave it out without sacrificing flavor.

You can even make it Whole30-friendly. Plus it’s gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free and dairy-free. Might sound weird to point out but you’d be surprised at what’s in bottled barbecue sauces.

A jar of Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce on a cutting board surrounded by a spoon, garlic, a bowl of cayenne, a pineapple and a bottle of tequila on a wooden table

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Tequila Pineapple BBQ Sauce

There’s rarely a barbecue sauce I don’t like. Spicy, smoky, sweet, vinegary-y – all good. I’m even slowly coming around to mustard-based sauces.

But most sauces are usually full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, even the non-sweet flavors.

And this is a barbecue sauce recipe without ketchup, which is another ingredient sneaking in a ton of sugar.

It’s just sweetened with pineapple and a touch of molasses. I’m not even sure if molasses counts as a sweetener as it’s actually pretty bitter.

There’s a reason why we don’t lick the spoon that was in the molasses jar. (Or you do it once and learn your lesson.) (Not that I’ve done that…) (Spoiler: I have.)

And your result? A healthy homemade bbq sauce for pulled pork, ribs, chicken, etc.

Is tequila paleo?

It might seem weird to feature tequila on a blog dedicated to Paleo and whole food-based eating.

But Paleo isn’t about perfect historical reenactment. It’s about using our history to guide our choices through the world we live in today.

For some people that means enjoying alcohol, for some that doesn’t. Either way is cool.

I’ll admit I happen to be biased because I’ve always liked tequila.

But if you’re getting a true, 100% agave tequila, then you’re drinking a sugar-free, plant-derived alcohol. And that’s pretty cool, right?

Unless you’re drinking it with a pre-made mix which is basically just liquid sugar, which is not cool.

After all, there’s a reason the NorCal Margarita is the unofficial Paleo cocktail.

I do recommend an aged tequila here, as I think it adds a rounder, smoother, slightly smokier flavor. But even clear tequila is good.

Just avoid gold tequila, as it contains additives we’re trying to avoid.

It might be confusing because aged tequila often has a golden hue to it, but again, if it’s 100 % agave, you’re golden. (Oh, the puns!)

A jar of Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce on a wooden table next to a pile of pulled pork, a spoon pouring the sauce over the pork and a pineapple and bottle of tequila in the background

What you need for this Tequila Pineapple BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil, olive oil, ghee or cooking fat of your choice
  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced shallots (from about 1-2 large shallots)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • pinch of fine sea salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegan)
  • 1 (14-15 oz.) can pineapple chunks in 100% juice
  • 1/4 cup tequila plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes) or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses (regular or blackstrap)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or as much as you like)

Equipment:

How to make this Tequila Pineapple BBQ Sauce

It’s pretty easy – just a quick chop and stir, dump in some more stuff, simmer for a while and then blend!

 

 

Variations and substitutions

Don’t want to use tequila? Leave it out and add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke.

Want to make it Whole30-friendly? Omit the tequila and replace the molasses with an equal amount of coconut aminos.

No fresh garlic or shallots? Skip the first step and blend 1 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder with the tomato paste into the chicken broth, tequila, eta.

 

 

Make ahead options

This sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

This sauce can be frozen. Add it to a freezer baggie, squeeze out all the air and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

 

So what do I do with this sauce?

OK, so you’ve got this easy barbecue sauce recipe. Now that I’ve shown you how to make a tequila-based barbecue sauce from scratch, you’ve got to use it!

And yes, you could just suck it down with a straw and tell yourself it’s a barbecue margarita (new recipe idea!), but let’s look at some other options for this tequila pineapple bbq sauce:

  • Make my Tequila Pineapple Shrimp Skewers!
  • Plop the jar on the table when cooking up this Grilled Platter using one of the many variations I list in this post and let your guests go to town saucing everything up.
  • Pulled pork or pulled chicken– simple, easy and a great option for feeding a crowd. Just drizzle the sauce over the meat until it’s coated and pass the rest of the sauce around for people to add as they please.
  • Pork chops and chicken breasts/thighs – brush the sauce on for the last few minutes of cooking (the way I use my balsamic jam sauce on these pork chops), whether sautéing or grilling. Use it as a marinade or check out this Healthy Teriyaki Chicken recipe and use the sauce the same way as the teriyaki sauce on chicken thighs.
  • Ribs – once the ribs are almost cooked, brush the sauce on and grill or broil for another 5 minutes per side. Serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
  • Salmon – same as above. Brush with the sauce when it has a few minutes of grilling or broiling left.
  • Vegetables – Brush on while grilling veggies or drizzle over roasted, sautéed or steamed veggies.
  • Pizza – Reduce the sauce until it’s as thick as pizza sauce, brush it on a grain-free pizza crust and top with chicken and sliced red onion.
  • Eggs – Yes, eggs! A little drizzle over scrambled, poached or over-easy eggs adds a punchy pop of flavor to your typical breakfast.
  • Smear some of my Paleo Plantain Cornbread with butter and drizzle this sauce on top.

While all of these are great, I first had a similar sauce shellacking a huge rack of ribs at Más allá del Sol. So basically, I recommend working your way down this list but maybe start with the ribs.

While this Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce isn’t what those chefs are doing in their professional kitchen, it’s just begging to be put on…well, everything.

 

Other recipes you might like:

  1. Tequila Pineapple Shrimp Skewer
  2. Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce
  3. Oven BBQ Pork Chops
  4. Baked BBQ Chicken
  5. Frozen Pineapple Virgin Margarita
2 images of jars of Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce on a wooden table surrounded by a pineapple, a bottle of tequila, a bowl of cayenne, garlic cloves, a spoon and pile of pulled pork
2 images of jars of Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce on a wooden table surrounded by a pineapple, a bottle of tequila, a bowl of cayenne, garlic cloves, a spoon and pile of pulled pork
2 images of pineapple barbecue sauce with tequila in a mason jar
A jar of Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce on a cutting board surrounded by a spoon, garlic, a bowl of cayenne, a pineapple and a bottle of tequila on a wooden table
Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Tequila Pineapple Barbecue sauce

A zesty, easy sauce that's sweet, smoky and spicy.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barbecue sauce, pineapple, tequila
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil, ghee, or cooking fat of your choice
  • ½ cup diced shallots (about 1-2 large shallots)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and diced
  • pinch of fine sea salt, plus 1¼ teaspoon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegan)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pineapple chunks in 100% juice
  • ¼ cup tequila plus 1 tablespoon, divided (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes) or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses (regular or blackstrap)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (or as much as you like)

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the shallots and garlic with a pinch of sea salt and saute until the shallots are softened and the garlic is beginning to turn golden, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and saute until it slightly darkens in color (to intensify the flavor), about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, pineapple chunks and their juice, ¼ cup tequila, lime juice, molasses, cayenne and 1¼ teaspoons salt. Raise heat to medium high to bring to a boil, then reduce heat until it's at a strong simmer. Cook until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally, about 35-40 minutes.
  • Carefully add the sauce to a blender. Remove the insert of the blender lid and hold a towel tightly over the lid (hot liquids expand when blended so this will help prevent splatters). Add the remaining 1 tablespoon tequila if desired and blitz until smooth. Or use a stick blender right in the saucepan as long as the blades can be completely submerged. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more cayenne if you'd like it spicier.

Notes

An aged tequila (labeled "reposado" or "anejo") works well here but clear tequila is fine. Just make sure whatever you use is 100% agave.
Don't want to use tequila? Leave it out and add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke.
Want to make it Whole30-friendly? Omit the tequila and replace the molasses with an equal amount of coconut aminos.
No fresh garlic or shallots? Skip the first step and blend 1 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder with the tomato paste into the chicken broth, tequila, eta.
If you find the sauce too thick, add more chicken broth or water and taste to adjust seasonings. If it's not thick enough, keep simmering until it reaches the desired consistency.
This sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
This sauce can be frozen. Add it to a freezer baggie, squeeze out all the air and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

 

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Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce being poured from a mason jar over a pile of pulled pork
Tequila Pineapple Barbecue Sauce in a mason jar on a wooden table next to a board piled with pulled pork and a spoon with the sauce, with a pineapple and tequila bottle in the background


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