Rhubarb barbecue sauce is an easy way to use seasonal rhubarb and in a savory dish instead of baked goods. It tastes like regular BBQ sauce but a bit tangier and very flavorful - I think you'll like this fun way to use rhubarb.
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Rhubarb is a plant I'm always happy to grow in our garden because it's so low maintenance (basically plant it once, give it water and a yearly layer of compost and it will produce for years and years - more on that in this Ultimate Rhubarb Guide), and it's one of the first things that can be harvested in spring.
While I love using it to make spicy chutney, lemon rhubarb butter, muffins, and crumb bars, I'm always looking for a way to use rhubarb in things that aren't baked desserts. I found a recipe years ago for a rhubarb barbecue sauce that I adapted and it's become one of our favorites. It's crazy easy and makes a terrific barbecue sauce with just a hint of tangy rhubarb.
In fact, if you didn't know it was in there, I doubt you would be able to guess it there was rhubarb in the sauce, even though it's the main ingredient.
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
The original recipe called for ketchup and I adapted this to use tomato paste instead of ketchup for two reasons:
- Using ketchup adds to the total amount of sugar (the main reason, really).
- Since I make our ketchup, it's a little more precious and I don't want to use it all up in barbecue sauce.
I also lowered the total amount of sugar to let the flavor of the rhubarb show through (since we eat too much sugar in America - hidden in things like barbecue sauce - I've been making a concerted effort to lessen the amount we use in food), increased things like garlic and mustard, and added red chili flakes for a bit of spice (totally optional, though).
How long will this sauce last?
You can keep the rhubarb barbecue sauce in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. For longer storage, pour the sauce into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to six months.
Can you water-bath can this sauce?
This recipe has not been tested for safe canning, either water-bath or pressure canning, so it is not an option to can. Your best bet is to freeze it.
I definitely plan every year to make a number of jars to freeze while the rhubarb is producing- it's that good.
TIP: Keep track of your freezing, canning, and drying with this Preserving Record Notebook.
Easy Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1 6- ounce can tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2-1 teaspoon red chili flakes or to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring often (especially towards the end of cooking), until the rhubarb is tender.
- Blend until smooth using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender or food processor to blend).
- Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or freeze for longer storage.*
Other Easy Homemade Condiments to Try:
- Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce (canned)
- Quick Honey Sweetened Ketchup (fridge)
- Fast Homemade Mayonnaise (fridge)
- Honey Sweetened Jalapeno Jelly (canned)
This recipe has been updated - it was originally published in June of 2011.