Simple BBQ Sauce

For many years, it was our mom rather than our dad who had charge of the mixed grill for backyard parties at our family home.

Mama’s secret to success at the grill was actually roasting the meats in the oven to begin. As I recall, with her home’s a/c blaring, she had the oven on for a while and roasted bone-in chicken pieces, ribs, sausages, and quite possibly tri-tip roasts to begin. Then she finished them on the grill which was more efficient – and delicious – since nothing ever burned or overcooked.

I must admit that this is my preferred method of grilling. 

Some years ago, I was hired as Chef for a large birthday party in Ketchum, Idaho. 65 guests came to enjoy this fabulous outdoor party. There were 3 grills, each manned by one of the host’s dear friends. They (reluctantly perhaps, but graciously) took orders from me.

My intention was to have everyone enjoy the party from start to finish, and of course make my hosts look genius for hiring me, LOL — so the tri-tip roasts, chicken thighs, and ribs were all roasted in advance of the party. A large pan of each was delivered to my respective grill masters. All they had to do was brush meats with my fresh sauces, finish the cooking, and be available to dine with everyone even sooner than they’d expected. 

Everyone appetized at one gimormous table to begin, side dishes went on forever, and for dessert, chocolate-dipped strawberries were surprisingly delicious dipped in the cream cheese icing of the birthday carrot cake.

The party was a huge success. Did anyone have an issue about not cooking raw meats on the grill after all? They did not. 

You too, can grill this way if you choose. Simply roast your choice of meats in advance, and have them ready to finish on the grill with this simple sauce. Then enjoy your own delicious party sooner than later.


Simple BBQ Sauce

For initial seasoning:

salt and pepper 

olive oil 


For sauce:

¾ cup ketchup

¼ cup honey or maple syrup

Splash of balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs mustard (any variety is fine; your preference)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin


Season raw chicken, ribs, steak, sausage with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast meats of choice to safe temperatures shown here. Keep meats warm before grilling.

Combine all sauce ingredients in medium bowl. Brush meats with sauce on grill heated to high; turn occasionally to caramelize sauce on meats to finish cooking. Serve as soon as possible!

Yields about 1 cup; recipe is easily multiplied in direct proportion.

Note: Guess what else we learned from Mama?? In the off-season, enjoy delicious BBQ indoors, by roasting meats in the oven and finishing them with a brush of this BBQ sauce, about 15 minutes before removing from oven. I like to drain pan juices before brushing on the sauce.

Diana Scalia

Diana Scalia

Your Chef and Tour Maestra

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