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plate with chicken and bbq sauce

Root Beer Espresso BBQ Sauce

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5 from 1 review

This Root Beer Espresso BBQ Sauce is the sauce you never knew you needed, but you’ll never go without again. It has such a great, full bodied flavor full of sweet and spice – it’s exactly the kind of sauce your next summer barbecue needs.

  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 on-the-vine tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup root beer
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp finely ground espresso
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion in the oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt.
  2. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the white vinegar, then deglaze the bottom of the pan (scrape up any brown bits).
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they start breaking down.
  6. Stir in the tomato sauce and mustard and brown sugar and bring to a simmer.
  7. Stir and cook 3-5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.
  8. Add the root beer, balsamic vinegar, molasses and vanilla and bring to a boil.
  9. Turn down the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Using an immersion blender, puree the contents of the pot until smooth and sauce-like consistency. (Alternatively, let mixture cool slightly and transfer to a blender. Puree until smooth and return to the saucepan)
  11. Add the honey, espresso, black pepper, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, allspice, garlic powder, cumin and the remaining 3 tsp of salt.
  12. Mix well and simmer, covered, on low for 40 minutes to 1 hour. This helps all the flavors develop to a deep reddish brown. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
  13. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.



  • large saucepan
  • immersion blender or blender
  • airtight container
  • Author: Sarah | AwayFromTheBox
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Southern
  • Diet: Vegetarian