Summer is the best season to grill meat over your fire pit. There nothing like tossing a marinated steak or chicken breast on the grill and taking in the unbeatable aroma as you watch the meat brown. Flip it over, and you’ll see those aesthetically-perfect dark brown grill lines–a sure sign that it’s summer.

When you cook your meat over your fire pit, there’s no doubt that you’ll end up with a delicious result, but the quality of your final product will also depend somewhat on the barbecue sauce you decide to use. Whether you prefer to use barbecue sauce for the marinade, to pour over after you’ve cooked the meat, or for dipping, it can make a big difference in terms of the quality of your meal. If you’re getting bored with the standard barbecue sauce from your local grocery store, you might want to think about mixing up a homemade sauce with more creative ingredients. Whether you decide to add a sweet or a savory ingredient to your sauce, the result can pair particularly well with meat cooked over gourmet cooking firewood. Read on to learn more about incorporating creative ingredients into the barbecue sauces you use for your fire-grilled meats this summer.

Distinctive Ingredients for a Sweet Summer Barbecue Sauce

Compared to other sauces, barbecue sauce is naturally on the sweet side, but if you have a real sweet tooth, there are certain ingredients you can add in that really boost this aspect of the sauce’s flavor profile. In addition, you can further increase the sweetness of your meat by choosing a gourmet cooking wood that imparts a sweeter flavor, like cherry wood. The sweet smoke from cherry wood (a fruity wood that is often viewed as an apple wood substitute) will bring out the sweet tones both within the meat and in the barbecue sauce you use. Here are a few of creative ingredients you can mix into your barbecue sauce to give it that little bit of added sweetness:

  • Peaches. It’s summertime in Georgia, so peaches are in season! Adding diced peaches or peach salsa to your barbecue sauce will not only make it sweeter, but also give your final meal a summery feel!
  • Maple syrup. Compared to traditional barbecue sauce, which is sweetened primarily with brown sugar, barbecue sauce sweetened with maple syrup tends to have a lighter sweetness.
  • Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper. Adding soda to your barbecue sauce may not seem like a “gourmet” option, but many chefs swear by the sweet flavor they provide. For a doubly sweet option that pairs particularly well with meat cooked using cherry firewood, consider choosing Cherry Cola for your barbecue sauce.
  • Honey. Adding honey is one of the simplest ways to give your barbecue sauce a little extra sweetness–especially since you probably already have some in your pantry. It will also add thickness to your barbecue sauce, so be careful to avoid adding too much by accident.
  • Basil. Chop up fresh leaves of basil from your garden and toss them in your barbecue sauce. Like peaches, this distinctive herb will simultaneously sweeten your sauce and serve as a reminder to whoever is eating it to savor the summer season.

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Ingredients to Add for a More Savory Flavor

Perhaps you prefer more savory meats. If that’s the case, you’re probably more likely to choose a gourmet cooking wood like pecan firewood when you grill up your summer steak, chicken breast, or other meat. Pecan firewood is in the hickory family, so it has a more smoky, nutty flavor. As a result, when you’re preparing a barbecue sauce for a meat that has been grilled over pecan wood, you’ll want to mix up a marinade with more savory flavors. Consider a few of the following options:

  • Ginger. Adding ginger to your barbecue sauce can give it an unexpected bite. It’s a great choice if you’re trying to give your meal an Asian feel.
  • Cloves. Like ginger, cloves can add nuance to your barbecue sauce, rounding out the flavor without making it too spicy.
  • Hot chile powder or cayenne pepper. If you’re a meat lover who is looking for your tongue to catch fire with every bite, a dash of hot chile powder or cayenne pepper will surely do the trick!
  • Coffee. Surprisingly, this pantry staple can add a savory depth of flavor to your homemade barbecue sauce without being overpowering.
  • Brown mustard. You can add either mixed brown mustard or dried mustard powder into your barbecue sauce to give it a more savory flavor that will inevitably evoke summer memories of roasting hot dogs around your fire pit.
  • Blackstrap molasses. This bitter molasses is very strong, so when you’re mixing it into a homemade barbecue sauce, be careful not to add too much. Just a little will go a long way for making your barbecue sauce more savory.

Cutting Edge Firewood is here to help you maximize the flavor profile of whatever you’re cooking up around the fire pit this summer. Visit our order page to get your gourmet cooking wood and the other supplies you need for success!