How to Thin BBQ Sauce


As they say, nothing in this world will top off a well-made barbecue sauce to blend with dishes fresh off the grill! Whether you are trying to soak overnight or caramelize, BBQ sauces are perfect for adding a little glaze of sweet and savory goodness.

One problem that could emerge is a dried-out, thick BBQ sauce sitting for a little while, which may result in an unpleasant BBQ experience.

BBQ Sauce on Chicken Drumstick

One of the first things most rookie grillers do with thick BBQ sauce is to thin it out. And one of the most classic mistakes out there is to use water to achieve that thin BBQ sauce consistency.

Well, it is a mistake for a reason. While using water to thin out the sauce is possible, it will also leave an underwhelming taste. So, water is a no go.

There are other, more feasible methods out there. And today will look at some of those excellent answers on how to thin BBQ sauce without compromising the flavor.

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Various ways to Thin Your BBQ Sauce

Other than water, there are many and more suitable ways to make your BBQ thinner. Today, we will outline seven of those fantastic ways.

With no further ado, let us jump right in on how to make BBQ sauce thinner.

1. Adding some splashes of cider vinegar to your sauce

Using apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your BBQ sauce is a simple choice to thin it out. If you want to enrich your BBQ sauce with a little kick of tartness in its flavor profile, you can add some splashes of apple cider vinegar and mix them into a heated pan. Cane vinegar, amongst any other similar types of vinegar, is also a go-to pick for adding that sought-after tart flavor!

For thin BBQ sauce using cider vinegar or any vinegar of your choice, consider adding ½ tbsp of vinegar to ½ cup of BBQ sauce. You may taste it first before applying vinegar to larger batches.

The amount of vinegar that you will add will depend on the acidity of the vinegar, taste preferences, and the thickness of the mixture you want.

To evaluate the flavor of apple cider vinegar before thinning the whole bottle, easily take 1/2 cup of your mix and put that in a separate container.

Add in 1/2 tbsp of your vinegar and evaluate for flavor. When finished, proceed to blend with larger batches, adding 1/2 tablespoon at a time.

2. Adding a few spirits

You can also use spirits to thin out a BBQ sauce. The most popular pickis either Whiskey or Rum.

Only apply around 1/4 tbsp per cup, and it will work out to be just perfect. However, one point to note is to be careful in simmering the alcohol out of your sauce before serving.

We suggest that you use a few spirits to enhance your BBQ sauce because of its delightful blended taste that everyone would enjoy. Some of the popular brands of whiskey, namely Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, are great for using as a thinning agent for your too-thick BBQ sauce.

Also, may we point out a couple of premade whiskey-marinated barbequed pork products of these brands in the grocery? That is how popular liquor is for marinating meats for the barbeque!

3. Incorporating citrus juice

This next ingredient is another perfect way to turn your unappealing BBQ sauce into great, zesty goodness!

We especially recommend this method if you prefer your sauce to have a sourer, refreshing flavor.

Begin by adding around a fourth of a cup or less to your sauce blend it in.

Give it a little taste and, if the mixture is still too potent and not tangy, try the method again.

4. Adding any stock

Whether it would be chicken, beef, or even vegetable stock or broth, they are perfect for thinning out BBQ sauces. If you plan to grill come pieces of poultry or any lean meat, chicken stock is a go-to way to thin out your BBQ sauce.

If you are preparing beef or any red meat for barbequing, the beef broth is another perfect way to thin out the BBQ sauce.

In any case, you may some ketchup and broth in a 50:50 ratio. Mix and restart if your BBQ sauce is too thick.

5. Mixing BBQ sauce with fruit spirits

Fruit liquor, just like Bourbon or Rum, is another go-to ingredient to thin out BBQ sauce.

You will like this method if you love hints of berries to your sauce. It is just as simple to do, you may mix in a fourth of a teaspoon per one cup of your thin sauce, and you are all good to go.

Only try to let it steam or boil fast and ensure that you burn out the intense alcohol flavor before using the sauce.

6. Opening a can of beer and mixing it

Of course, beer should be in the mix after. Just like fruit liquor, bourbon, or rum, this all-time favorite drink is not only great for drinking but also as an adding agent for the perfect BBQ sauce.

Use half a cup of beer and boil to burn out the alcohol content. If your sauce is thick for your liking, repeat the procedure.

7. Thinning out BBQ sauces with tomato

While the mentioned approaches are perfect for most sauces, some sauces have a tomato-based ingredient in it.

You can add about half a cup of ketchup per two cups of BBQ sauce with this process.


The next time you decide to thin out a BBQ sauce that you made up too thick, stay away from water as it will leave you with nothing desirable in your sauce other than the consistency.

Instead, pick a method from the seven we outlined and test out which one works best for you. From cider vinegar to different kinds of alcoholic drinks, the possibilities are endless.

Your choice of a BBQ sauce thinning option will depend on what taste you would like to enhance. Never settle for water any more next time you want to thin out your BBQ sauce!

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Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.