Ever been to Franklin Barbecue? Neither have I! To be honest, it’s on my radar every time I go to Austin, but I don’t seriously entertain the idea of waiting on it’s legendary mile-long lines, even though I know the place is Mecca for Barbecue enthusiasts. I guess, file this one under “I’m too old.”

I’m comforted by the idea that until I make it there, I at least have this: Aaron Franklin’s signature barbecue sauce. It’s from Franklin’s new book/manifesto, which I included in a New York Times cookbook round-up last weekend. As I wrote in the review, his book is as much a manual for entrepreneurs as it is a complete education on every possible facet of barbecue. I find the word “passion” is ridiculously overused, but in this case there’s just no avoiding it — Franklin built his empire on passion, hosting huge cookouts for his friends when he could afford it, scouring the free section of Craig’s List for all the necessary gear, once high-tailing it through Austin at 2:00 in the morning to pick up a smoker that he saw had been discarded curbside. It was one of those stories that made me say to myself “Why don’t I take more risks?” and then say out loud to whoever is listening, “People are amazing.”

Anyway, until I risk everything to start my own business, I have Franklin’s sauce. It takes five minutes to make and, when poured into a Mason Jar and tied with some twine, I’m guessing would make a lovely Father’s Day gift. That’s my kind of DIY project.

Franklin’s Barbecue Sauce
Franklin is famously exacting, as you can see from the measurements below. So far, we’ve used this on ribs, basic weeknight baked chicken legs (page 72, Dinner: The Playbook), and mixed into turkey burgers. It will not let you down.

1 3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and warm gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally. There is no need to bring the mixture to a boil, as the idea is just to warm it enough to melt and integrate the ingredients. Once you have done that, remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar, bottle, squeeze bottle, or however you want to store it. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Ribs. Wow, I love summer.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Penguin Random House. 

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Guess what- 1/4 Tablespoon = 3/4 teaspoon So the measurement for 1/4T + 1 1/2 t comes out to 2 1/4 teaspoon. Not as snazzy sounding but simpler!


I definitely want to make this for Fathers’ Day. How do you measure 1/4 tablespoon of brown sugar?
Thanks for the recipe and reviews!


To clarify 3 x 1/4 tsp = 1/4 Tablespoon.

The full amount of brown sugar could also be measured as 2 1/4 teaspoons.


I just want to make this and say summer is here!
A jar of this in the fridge would make me happy


Yes! I was wondering the same thing. What are “basic overnight baked chicken legs?” Marinate them in the sauce overnight before baking?


@M and @robin — I don’t know what i was thinking. I meant WEEKnight baked chicken not OVERnight baked chicken. It’s all fixed now. If you own the Playbook, the recipe is on page 72). Apologies!

Sarah Roberts

Yay! I’ve been looking for a good BBQ sauce recipe #makedinnernotwar

Todrianna Etheridge

This sauce looks delicious! I love anything with BBQ sauce, I even eat it in my macaroni and cheese. Im so glad I can across this blog years ago!

JIll Sizemore

Yum! I live in NC where BBQ sauce is worth arguing over. This seems to combine the best parts of NC BBQ sauce, it will be on the menu for Sunday dinner. #makedinnernotwar

kim winter

I like adding peaches to my BBQ sauce. this one sounds good! #makedinnernotwar

Jackie Rice

I love a recipe that won’t let you down… and ribs. #makedinnernotwar


Long-time reader of your blog and user of your cookbooks. #makedinnernotwar = My sentiments exactly! 🙂

Amylynn McDevitt

We are getting ready to move across country this summer, a military move and we don’t have a house yet. Probably be put I temporary housing, which isn’t so bad. One thing that will be packed in my bag is your cookbook. It’s lovingly dog eared, stained, and a few pages are ready to fall out, but it’s my go to. I know that every recipe I make will turn out amazing! Our favorite, gosh that’s hard to narrow it down… Fish cakes, the braised pork pasta dish, the thin crust pizza, and black bean burritos. I know while we are waiting for a more permanent home, that even though I am not in my kitchen that our meals will taste like home. It’s a comfort for us, thank you! #makedinnernotwar

Cristina Krislav

The universe (or just you, JR!) is telling me to make my own BBQ sauce! Just yesterday I was thumbing through “Dinner … Plan” & resolved to make the BBQ chicken sliders. I loved your turn of phrase … It’s a sort of “witch’s brew” that my daughter would love to whip up! Thank you. #makedinnernotwar

Melissa richie

Can’t wait to try this! We had your porcupines on Monday. It’s the only thing my kids all consistently love and eat. Thanks for a fun giveaway!! #makedinnernotwar


Yes, please! Summertime means all sorts of BBQ action, and this looks fantastic! #makedinnernotwar


I LOVE your book. I’ve been cooking my way through it and finding lots of new favorites! #makedinnernotwar


Lived in Texas for a summer and never made it to Franklin’s, so I’m grateful for this recipe! #makedinnernotwar


For the past 3 years my boyfriend and I have raised a dozen pigs a year so family and friends can eat home grown pork. This sauce will be my next dals addition to a pulled pork (and ribs!!) dinner party. #makedinnernotwar

The Prestigious School

Waiting in line for too long is like paying too much money for a dinner out. There is no way a meal could live up to the hype of a mile long wait, and I would just be aggravated at myself for doing it.

jen williams

oh I beg to differ…after waiting 5 hours from the time we pulled up til i had bbq in my mouth FIVE HOURS! Upon sampling the brisket I said out loud
Worth the wait and I would do it again!
And I would!!
Franklins is that good…but Heim in FW on magnolia runs so close that I deem them tied for the very very best one can get in this state!


Love the suggestion to make this as a Fathers’ Day gift (and that way my husband doesn’t need to know that there’s ketchup in it). Feeling rebellious, I plan to put a full tablespoon of brown sugar in there, instead of 3/4 Tbs (=1/4 Tbs + 1 1/2 tsp). (Can anyone tell me why cookbooks always call for 1 1/2 tsp instead of 1/2 Tbs?)



I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for always posting just what I need to inspire another dinner. #makedinnernotwar


See, what you have to do is unwittingly show up at Franklin’s 15 minutes after they re-open from a blackout and you get right in and they serve you a beer while in (the short) line and eat the best BBQ of your life and sigh and say “let’s move here” and then three months later you do. I hear that will never happen to us again.


Jenny–love the blog and the books! Just a heads up…I think you might have a typo on the amount of ground cumin…I believe it should be 1 teaspoon not one tablespoon. I just made the sauce, and even though it seemed like an awful lot of cumin, I thought, “Who am I to argue with Aaron Franklin?” But the cumin flavor is overpowering! After a quick google search, it looks like it should be 1 teaspoon. Not sure whether to be sad about my cumin sauce or proud that my instincts were right! I think I’m just going to triple the rest of the recipe…that should solve the dilemma! (It’s not like we won’t use it, right?)


Thanks Jessica! The recipe is printed exactly as it runs in the book. Franklin calls for 1 tablespoon of cumin, but that doesn’t mean you are wrong. Listen to your instincts, no one knows better what you like more than you! Thanks for reading.


Made this sauce (on a weeknight) for some BBQ chicken and it got a huge thumbs-up from my non-spicey-food eating clan. I personally would have liked a bit of heat, but this sauce is perfectly tangy/sweet to be a crowd-pleaser! I am pretty excited that I still have a mason jar FULL of this stuff. I think it’s our summer go-to! thanks!


any specific ketchup? the one we use in CZ is bit s..ty. Just today i had ribbs with Jack Daniells BBQ sauce so this one goes to next.