Dear BBQ Friend:
Since I'm enjoying regular vacations these days and not working my butt off at competitions, I guess I can reveal my top secret BBQ sauce recipe now...
When competing, I figured out that if you give the judges the same old thing contest after contest, they will soon get tired of it and start scoring you down. Others will figure out what you are using too if you are not tight lipped enough and then it gets worse. The trick is to develop your own sauce and then don't tell anybody. In competitions, the judges like a sweet sauce, so that's the flavor profile you always had to go with.
Here's my Competition BBQ Sauce recipe...
3 different bottles of your favorite BBQ sauces
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup honey
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup real balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp hickory liquid smoke (Optional - if you get a lot of smoke with your smoker, you may not need this. With pellet smokers, it may be necessary.)
Just heat it up enough to melt the sugar and blend the ingredients - no need to cook it.
Feel free to modify the recipe to your liking or if you feel the judges in your area would like something different. For instance, the judges in Tryon, NC always seemed to love honey, so I would eliminate the maple syrup and add another cup of honey. It worked two years in a row. I never tried straight molasses in my sauce (except for the brown sugar), but it might work in some areas. Agave is another popular ingredient too.
Here's some of the sauces I had success with over the years...