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Balsamic Espresso Coca Cola Barbecue Sauce

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Balsamic Espresso Coca Cola Barbecue Sauce


Seriously good, homemade, pulled smoked pork shoulder required a seriously good homemade barbecue sauce. So while our smoker did it’s magic, I decided that no bottled barbecue sauce was going to do. No matter how good they claim it to be, to me, homemade is always better. 😉 And when I saw that we had plenty of Coke on hand, I was already gathering ingredients in my head for my newest sauce, Balsamic Espresso Coca Cola Barbecue Sauce! 

After several days of scorchingly hot heat and smothering humidity, we were in for one GORGEOUS weekend. Low 80’s and no humidity! So I planned ahead, and thawed a pork shoulder (also sometimes called a pork “butt” which actually comes from the shoulder), to go into the smoker. It came out PHENOMENALLY flavorful, succulent, tender, and juicy thank goodness! And I’ll be sharing that recipe with you next!! So stay with me!


Balsamic Espresso BBQed Pulled Pork


But knowing how much I love good barbecue, I knew that I had to come up with a sauce that was fantastic mind you, but not so overpowering that it took away the integrity, (and the 9 hours that it took to cook!), of the flavor of the meat that I worked so hard to achieve. And what I put together really worked well!!

Believe it or not, ketchup is the base for most, not all, but most homemade, tomato-based barbecue sauces. So, I started with a regular ol’ popular commercial brand, but if you make your own homemade, more power to you! From there, it really is just adding whatever ingredients you like to the tomato base to turn it into a “barbecue sauce” flavor. Key ingredients to make this magic happen are basically a to-taste balance of some type of sugar or molasses, lemon juice, worcestershire, mustard, and vinegar. Peppers, onions and garlic are also always a welcome addition. And seriously, that’s really all there is to creating a basic barbecue sauce. It’s not any mystical secret, and it’s quite easy in fact! You just need the right balance and personal touches to make it how you like it. Some like it sweet, some prefer tangy, and some prefer very vinegary!

So for this, I wanted it tangy, but not too tart nor vinegary. Sweet, but even-steven on the teeter-totter with tartness. I also wanted to make it special to sublimely match the sandwich  and introduce just a few extra flavors to add depth and complexity, without hogging the main spotlight.

So in went a little espresso and cocoa powder. Oh yea. I upped the vinegar by using a nice, sweet, aged balsamic, and added just a little kick with some cajun seasoning!

And this sauce married really well with the smokey, mesquite flavor of the pork. BOY did it ever!!! 😀

I think that you’re really going to enjoy this, and not just over pulled pork, but this sauce would be good on just about anything smoked or grilled! Burgers, chicken, chops, briskets, or even a light brushing on shrimp and fish! 😉

Lightly sweet and tangy, with a nice amount of flavor, and even a little kick in the trunk!

Hope you enjoy!!


Balsamic Espresso Coca Cola Barbecue Sauce
Yield: 2 cups

Balsamic Espresso Coca Cola Barbecue Sauce


  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup cola
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tsp. (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice concentrate or fresh squeezed
  • 1 Tbl. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbl. sweet aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt, I use Johnny's
  • 1/4 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbl. butter


  • Add ingredients to a medium saucepan. Whisk to mix until all is blended.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to Low, and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.Stirring occasionally, don't let it burn or scorch.
  • Set aside, let cool down, pour into a jar, and chill to let flavors marry and mellow. Even better the next day, but can be used immediately.


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