Unlocking Hawaiian Flavors: The Story of Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

Unlocking Hawaiian Flavors: The Story of Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

Unleash the flavors of the Hawaiian islands with our homemade Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce. Crafted to perfection, this sauce is a symphony of smokiness and sweetness, capturing the essence of traditional Hawaiian barbecue. As the sauce simmers, it transforms into a rich, velvety concoction that’s ready to grace your grilled creations. Whether you’re hosting a backyard cookout or simply want to add a touch of island flair to your meals, this sauce is your ticket to elevating your culinary escapades. So, gather your ingredients, ignite your grill, and let the tantalizing aroma of Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce set the stage for an unforgettable dining experience.

History and Popularity

In the heart of every great barbecue, there’s a sauce that transforms grilled creations into culinary masterpieces. Enter Hawaiian Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce, a treasure trove of flavors that encapsulates the allure of the islands. Rooted in the history of Hawaiian cuisine, this sauce has evolved from the cultural exchange of flavors brought by immigrants from Asia, Polynesia, and beyond. Its smoky and sweet profile reflects the rich diversity that defines Hawaiian fare.

Common Ingredients

At the heart of this sauce are simple yet potent ingredients. The fusion of ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, and pineapple juice creates a harmonious blend that’s both sweet and savory. Apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard add depth and tanginess, while liquid smoke imparts the smokiness that evokes the essence of open flames and tropical barbecues. The aromatic spices of garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and ground ginger round out the symphony of flavors.

Hawaiian Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

Elevate your BBQ experience with our homemade Hawaiian-style Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce. This tantalizing blend of smokiness and sweetness captures the essence of the islands and perfectly complements grilled meats and vegetables.
Course Sauces, Stocks, and Accompaniments
Cuisine Hawaiian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 16
Author N. Jay Sorensen, MBA RDN


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  • Combine Ingredients: In a medium saucepan, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and liquid smoke over medium heat.
  • Add Seasonings: Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and ground ginger. Mix well to ensure all the flavors are incorporated.
  • Simmer and Thicken: Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken and develop a rich consistency.
  • Taste and Adjust: Taste the sauce and adjust the sweetness, smokiness, or seasoning according to your preference. Add a touch more brown sugar for sweetness or a dash more liquid smoke for a stronger smoky flavor.
  • Cool and Store: Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the BBQ sauce to cool. Once cooled, transfer it to an airtight container for storage in the refrigerator.


Recipe Tips:
  • Customize Sweetness: Adjust the brown sugar to find your desired balance between smokiness and sweetness.
  • Enhance Smokiness: Experiment with the amount of liquid smoke for a more intense smoky profile.
  • Consistency Control: Simmer longer for a thicker sauce, or add a bit of water to thin it out if needed.
  • Grill Partner: Brush the sauce on grilled meats or vegetables during the last few minutes of cooking for a glossy finish.

Nutrition and Health Benefits

While indulging in barbecue may not always be associated with health, the Hawaiian Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce offers a balanced experience. Its foundation of ketchup, a tomato-based condiment, contains lycopene—a powerful antioxidant known for its potential health benefits. Moreover, the smoky undertones provided by liquid smoke mimic the flavors of traditional pit-smoked meats without the lengthy cooking process. When enjoyed in moderation and as part of a well-rounded meal, this sauce can be a flavorful addition to a balanced diet.

Serving Ideas

The versatility of Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce is a testament to its universal appeal. Brush it onto grilled chicken, ribs, pork chops, or even grilled vegetables to infuse them with an irresistible smoky-sweet essence. Create vibrant flavor contrasts by pairing the sauce with charred pineapple slices or roasted sweet potatoes. Alternatively, use it as a dipping sauce for crispy appetizers or drizzle it over pulled pork sandwiches for an extra layer of decadence.

Chef Tips

  • Customize Sweetness: Adjust the brown sugar quantity to align with your desired level of sweetness.
  • Smokiness Mastery: Experiment with the amount of liquid smoke to create your preferred intensity.
  • Balance and Complexity: Allow the sauce to simmer and meld flavors for a richer taste.
  • Grill Glazing: Apply the sauce towards the end of grilling to achieve a glossy finish.
  • Marinate Marvel: Use the sauce as a marinade before grilling for a depth of flavor that permeates every bite.

In conclusion, Hawaiian Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce is a testament to the power of culinary tradition and evolution. As you drizzle it over your favorite grilled creations, you’re not just adding flavor—you’re participating in a narrative that spans cultures and centuries. This sauce is a reminder that barbecue is more than just a method of cooking; it’s a way of preserving history and celebrating community. So, embrace the smoky-sweet symphony, savor its nuances, and let its transformative magic elevate your barbecue gatherings to unforgettable heights.

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