Pressure Cooker BBQ Sauce

Make your own barbeque sauce to get full control of the ingredients and show off the pressure cooker’s ability to infuse flavors in a flash. This sauce does not need to mature or age – when it’s ready. It’s ready!

It took a bit of refinement to get this sauce just right: sweet, tangy, smoky and with a little heat. Here are some details of how I developed this sauce to help those who might want to make substitutions or changes.

Ingredient Intelligence

Instead of sugar I wanted to get some sweetness from dried fruit but raisins were a bit lost, and dates were too sweet. Rumbling around my “dried fruit and nut drawer” I found a jar of old prunes – they’re both naturally sweet and tart. They also added quite a bit of viscosity  to the sauce so there was no need to add any extra ingredients or steps to thicken the sauce. Don’t soak them – the pressure cooker will plump and soften them during cooking.

The liquid smoke is optional.  My family loves a smoky sauce but it’s not for everyone.  You can pick this up at the grocery-store in the U.S. (in Europe, try ebay  – that’s where I got mine ; ).

You might be surprised to see granulated, not fresh, garlic.  That’s because fresh garlic tends to lose its flavor under pressure while the powder and granulated forms keep their bite.

Instead of the usual olive oil, I went with a high smoke-point oil. That’s because if the sauce is destined for an actual barbecue grill and the oil won’t be burned. Plus, I found that the sesame oil added a little oomph.

Lastly, you’ll see that I didn’t include two “popular” home-made barbeque sauce ingredients: ketchup and tomato paste. I wouldn’t really consider it a recipe if I used the former; and, I tried the latter, but the result tasted too much like a pasta sauce – and that wasn’t the goal of this sauce!

BBQ Sauce made in the pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
3 L or larger none 10 min. High(2) Slow Normal

4.8 from 8 reviews
Pressure Cooker BBQ Sauce
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: about 2.5 cups
  • Serving size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 20.3
  • TOTAL Fat: 0.4 g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 4.5 g
  • Sugar Carbs: 3.4 g
  • Sodium: 62.6 g
  • Fiber Carbs: 0.3 g
  • Protein: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe can be doubled, and even tripled as long as the pressure cooker is not more than ½ full (because of the dried fruit).
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil (or any other high smoke-pint oil such as peanut, avocado or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup (120ml) tomato puree (passata)
  • ½ cup (120ml) water
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) honey
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, like your home-made Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground clove powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¾ cup ( 5.25 oz or 150g) seedless dried plums (aka prunes), tightly packed in the measuring cup
  1. To the pre-heated pressure cooker add the sesame oil and onion. Saute' stirring infrequently until the edges of the onion start to brown.
  2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, or small mixing bowl, pour in the tomato puree, water, honey and vinegar using the measuring lines in the cups as a guideline. Then, plop in the salt, garlic, hot sauce, liquid smoke clove and cumin powders.
  3. Mix the contents of the measuring cup well, so that the honey dissolves evenly in the liquid.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pressure cooker, rubbing the base of the cooker with the spatula to lift-up any browned onion bits into the sauce.
  5. Plop in the plums.
  6. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  7. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 10 minutes pressure cooking time.
  8. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure slowly through the valve.
  9. Using an immersion blender, and tilting the pot so the blender is immersed in the liquid, puree the contents of the pressure cooker.
  10. Serve.
The liquid in this recipe is equivalent to 1½ cups, so there are no adjustments needed for most electric pressure cookers (unless your pressure cooker requires more liquid to reach pressure).


BBQ Sauce made in the pressure cooker

Make Pressure Cooker BBQ Sauce

Did you make it or a variation? Leave us a comment, and post a photo below!

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  1. Interesting. I like that there’s no ketchup, something way too many BBQ sauces have in excess. I’m wondering how this would be by omitting the liquid smoke (not a fan) and adding a few canned chipotles in adobo, or even reconstituted “plain” ones, to get both smoke and heat (I like my sauce on the hot side).

    1. Unfortunately I’m not familiar with the canned chipotles in adobo. Is it very liquidy? It could throw-off the ratio of the ingredients. So be sure that for every bit of liquid from these chipotles takes the place of the water in the recipe. I would start really small – even 1/4 of a cup of that mixture might be so spicy as to drown-out the other flavors.

      Welcome Karl!


      1. You might also try some smoked paprika.

  2. No, the adobo sauce itself – the canning “liquid” – is rather thick. I wouldn’t be adding that anyway, just a couple of the chiles with any of the sauce that’s clinging to them. I recognize these probably aren’t very common in Europe but stateside they are everywhere. This link has a picture of the brand I typically use as well as a good shot of some chiles and sauce being blended to give you an idea of the consistency. They are really quite versatile and addictive – smokey, tangy and spicy.

  3. The canned adobo in chili is like a paste. A very little bit goes a long way. A can can last for a long time.
    It is my favorite chili and is usually sold in the Mexican department in 4 oz cans.
    I use both the paste and the pepper, but cautiously.
    It is a jalapeno pepper which has been smoked and then put in a tomato vinegar mixture and is IMO quite unique.

    I have a wonderful recipe for chipotle corn chowder which as soon as I actually make in the pressure cooker I will post.

    Adding 1 chipotle in adobo sauce would be the same as adding 1 or 2 TBSP tomato paste.

  4. Wow! I just washed up the pressure cooker after using a spatula to get every bit! I wanted to lick my immersion blender.

    I didn’t have enough prunes, so added a few pitted dates. Also, I added about 1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice to help with the blending and consistency.

    I can’t wait to use this in meatloaf, on ribs, with leftover cooked chicken,……..


  5. Husband can’t eat prunes; would dried apricots work????

    1. Erica, I have not tested this with other fruits but I think raisins might be a closer substitution. If you’re feeling adventurous about experimenting with Apricots come back to share how it turned out.

      Afterall, the dried fruit is there to add “bulk” and “fiber” to thicken and sweeten the sauce so this might work with any dried fruit- through the sauce won’t be as dark as it would have been with prunes.



  6. Wow! I just made this – sorry Laura I didn’t have passata on hand so used my favorite organic tomato paste, but it doesn’t taste like any pasta sauce I’ve tried. I did sub 1/2 the liquid smoke for smoked paprika (not crazy about the caramel color used in liquid smoke) and added an extra glug of ACV. I can’t wait for my pork shoulder to get cooked so I can make pulled pork! This will definitely be a regular in my kitchen! Thank you!

    1. Pam, I’m so glad you shared a photo of it with us and that you’re satisfied with the results – smoked paprika is a great sub!



  7. Thank you so much for posting the recipe! So grateful I didn’t have to simmer and constantly stir something on the stove for over an hour! Followed your recipe with the following changes- used ketchup instead of the puree and harissa paste instead of tabasco. Fabulous! I love that this used prunes- good nutritional option instead of white or brown sugar!

    1. Yes, for the sweet and tart prunes add to a dish – they should really be used as “secret ingredient” more often!!! So glad to read you enjoyed the recipe!!



  8. I make my a gallon at a time…. What would be the cook time…I am just getting around to using a Pressure Cooker… I would have pots on all the burners on my stove in the past

    Any help you can give me I would that will help???

    Thank you Again


    1. Bob, I would make one batch first to see if you like it. : )

      After that, you can probably safely triple the recipe – unless you have a pressure cooker that is bigger than 6L I don’t recommend increasing it any more. Since a majority of this sauce is dried fruit (which is a notorious foamer that can clog pressure and safety valves) you have to follow the max 1/2 full rule.

      The cooking time does not change if you increase the quantity of the recipe – though you may find the pressure cooker will naturally take a little longer to reach and release pressure.



  9. I like lots of flavor, but I’m a total wimp when it comes to spicy heat. Can’t tolerate it. What would you recommend I use to replace the hot sauce (or can I simply omit it? I’m brand-new to pressure cooking….)

    1. You could absolutely omit it. But it will remove an element of flavour. Remember there are hot sauces. And then there are HOT!!! Sauces. There is one called “La Vieda” (the widow) which is very mild and quite delicious. Or you could add a good quality paprika. Maybe a smoked one to add to the smoky depth. The supermarket ones here tend to have no flavour. So I get a Spanish one from my delicatessen.

      I haven’t made this yet. I am waiting for summer. It is still the depths of winter here.

    2. Betsy there is just one teaspoon of hot sauce in over two cups of barbecue sauce – it adds a bit of spice and no heat. My daughter, who screams if she accidentally has a flake of black pepper in her dinner and absolutely cannot stand anything with any heat, loves this barbecue sauce.

      If you don’t want to chance it at all, just replace that with 1/2 teaspoon of paprika (Greg’s suggestion of smoked is a great idea) and 1/2 teaspoon (extra) of apple cider vinegar. ; )



      1. For me (and many people I know), the ratio of 1 tsp. hot sauce to 2 cups sauce is extremely hot! I have left out hot sauce called for in many recipes with no loss of flavor. Nowadays it is getting harder and harder to find recipes without some type of hot sauce or hot peppers in it! I just.reduce, eliminate, or substitute mild chilies for whatever the recipe calls for.

  10. Betsy I wouldn’t worry, I added more hot sauce than called for and the rest of the ingredients blended so well that it wasn’t hot at all (my hubby is like you and can’t tolerate it). It’s really more of a sweet & smokey sauce than a sauce with any heat.

  11. Great bbq…sauce, made exactly from your recipe. It filled 1 16oz jar….no waste. However it is a little on thick side. If l were to make it again and l definitely will. I will try by adding a little more water. As it stands its very tasty on pork ribs.

  12. Notes say liquid is 1 1/2 cups, may need more liquid to reach pressure. I have an instant pot…if I add more water will I dilute the flavor? Do I add more water and add more seasoning? I don’t like to stray too far from an original recipe if I’m making it the first time. Any advice would help, thank you.

    1. Donovan, 1 1/2 cups is the minimum liquid requirement for Instant Pot. I’ve actually made this several times in the Instant Pot (it’s a great hostess gift at a BBQ) and I can personally confirm that it will work just fine. : )



  13. This BBQ sauce is fabulous! Great balance among sweet/tangy/smokey flavors, and easily customized to ones personal preferences! SO much easier than my previous recipe that involved numerous ingredients and simmering.
    Question: Could I use unfiltered apple juice in place of the water?
    Another question: Is this sauce freezable?

    D :)

    1. For the apple juice it depends – if it is very viscous I would do 1/2 unfiltered apple juice and 1/2 water. Yes, it freezes without problems. Freeze it in a plastic baggie, and then just defrost, cut off the corner and squeeze into a jar/wide-mouth bottle.



  14. Not my favourite BBQ sauce I’m afraid. It tastes more like a Chinese plum sauce to me. Quite understandable really. Still it is quite useable. I will try it on some ham steaks tonight.

    I will try again. But with major tweakage. Perhaps molasses and brown sugar instead of the honey (will need to watch liquids with this). And perhaps a habanero based hot sauce instead of the chipotle based one I used this time. Also more cumin and less cloves. And a sharper vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar. Perhaps white wine or a malt vinegar next time.

  15. Hi here from Aust- I made this today and it is beautiful! Mind you, I omitted some things – the hot sauce, the cloves and the liquid smoke – I added smokey paprika and used a 425g can of whole tomatoes instead of passata.
    We found it very sweet, so I’m going to try with less honey next time – would this work!?
    Very excited by making these pressure cooker sauces (made the tomato one last week), as not only are they so easy and tasty, they fit beautifully in with my Weight Watchers point counting. Thanks for the awesome recipe :) The star rating wouldn’t allow me to give it 5 stars, but it’s def worth a 5-star rating!

    1. Hi Wendy,
      Glad to hear you know the best place to live.

      Smoky paprika is a good sub for the liquid smoke and hot sauce. I use La Dahlia brand. Another is Chipotle sauce. I have seen it in my local Woolworths recently so it is becoming more mainstream. But there is one specialist store in Sydney and a couple in Melbourne where you can get these Mexican style ingredients. The ones I have discovered all do mail order. One in Melbourne has a high quality liquid smoke, but sadly most of the ones here are full of “artificial colours and flavours”

      You could absolutely cut back on the honey. Or you could replace it with molasses. This is more traditional in a BBQ sauce anyway. It will still add some (less!) sweetness but also other interesting notes to the sauce.

      1. Thanks Greg for those suggestions – I shall look to ordering and trying some of the ingredients mentioned, although the reason I’m making the home made BBQ sauce is to minimise myself and the rest of the family having so many processed foods! If I can get away with minimal processing, artificial colours, etc in things like sauce, I feel pretty happy about that :-)

  16. i used plain tomato *sauce* in place of the tomato purée (which is difficult to find where I live). It tastes every bit as good as the batch I made with purée!

    1. Many of the tomato “sauces” add a lot of sugar and other stuff you may not want. Check the label.

      Another good sub for passata is a can of tomatoes. Just blitz them with a stick blender, or even just chop them roughly with a knife if you are happy with a chunkier sauce.

  17. I really appreciate all I learn on this site. Thanks to all who take time to contribute.

  18. I like your recipe so I used it as a base and made some modifications. First, I cooked the sauce Bain Marie style to guaranty no burning, then, because energy, and time are limited, I cooked it along with a couple small jars of garlic confit.

    I decided to use what I had laying around or what I could get from a fruit merchant down the street. I really wanted to try onions, garlic, some dates, banana and cored carrot as the basis of this recipe. I also added a good dollop of tomato paste, serene oil, cumin, coreander, five spice, sea salt, fermented pepper sauce hm I think that is it. I tried coking for 10 mins and could see it would be more like a 2 hour recipe–perfect for cooking with garlic confit. I added a tbs of Molasses and some drops of liquid smoke for good measure. The results are really great. Next time I want to try a simple apricot, carrot, onion, apple, banana, garlic, mustard version.

    1. Oh it goes without saying I used vinegar and also a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the ph a little and enhance the malliard reaction

  19. Does the bbq sauce burn to the bottom of the IP? When I made bbq pork in my stovetop pressure comes Lee
    It always burnt
    To the bottom.

  20. Hello, I plan to make jars of this bbq sauce as Christmas gifts this year. How long do you think it lasts before it goes bad? I’d like to plan the timing of cooking/jarring/gifting. Thank you!

    1. It can be refrigerated for several weeks.



  21. Would this sauce be good on chicken wings

    1. Absolutely!! Go fo it!



  22. Hi all,
    I subbed all over the place, not my normal way, but I’ve made ketchup many times and BBQ sauce is dressed up ketchup, yes?

    1 large onion, sauteed, then caramelized in the IP by pressure cooking 15 mins
    2 cans, 15oz of chopped tomatoes
    1 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/2 cup dried cherries
    1/2 cup dried plums, aka prunes
    1 tsp all spice, [freshly ground]
    2 tsp Tabasco, chipotle flavor
    Was out of liquid smoke and the chipotle Tabasco was the closest thing in the pantry
    Pressure cook 10 minutes, pureed with the boat motor, simmered to thicken and mmm good!
    Did not add any sugar, used the dried fruit to sweeten instead.
    It has a Carolina-style-tang to it, which is the preferred BBQ sauce in our home.
    I thinks that’s about it!
    Fun times!!! :-)

    1. Nice subs, Steven! Thanks for sharing them.

  23. This is excellent just finished. I used raisins as I do not have prunes on hand.

  24. Simple and flavor! Thanks for sharing this.

  25. Would this fit in an instant pot mini (3qt)? I’m eager to make this for use in further instant pot recipes but I want to make sure it isn’t too much volume.

    (Also, I wonder if dried mango or pineapple would be good alongside or instead of the prunes!)

    1. Theo, if you look at the black bar on the top of the recipe it will tell you whether this recipe will fit in your pot. In fact, I make this often and double it in the 6qt.

      Ooooh… I looove the idea of subbing some of the prunes with dried mango or pineapple. Actually, perhaps you could use apricots in place of the prunes to make the sauce both lighter and tartier.



      P.S. Apologies for the late response I was in the hospital during the holidays. Everything’s OK, now. : )

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