Root Beer BBQ Sauce

I think this is just such a fun sauce. I am a real fan of root beer and will often go out of my way for a mug of the stuff. So, why not a BBQ sauce that sings of the earthy spice that I love? This is my version of the regional American sauce. I use it on chicken, short ribs and brisket.

 Yields 3 cups

 2 cups favorite root beer (don’t use diet root beer)
1 cup Heinz ketchup
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons smoked hot paprika (Pimenton)
¼ cup bourbon or apple cider if you prefer non-alcoholic
½ cup ginger snaps, crumbled
1 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon minced lemon peel
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional or more if you like it spicy)
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 medium onion, grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Place all of the ingredients in the insert of the slow cooker and cover. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1  week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Falling-off-the-Bone Short Ribs

English cut short ribs are big and very meaty. They are also very rich and you don’t need a lot of this decadently rich cut of tender rib meat. English cut short ribs are big on flavor and paired with my whimsical Root Beer BBQ Sauce, they become a mouth watering dish. Luckily, the whole menu can be prepared either stovetop or in a slow cooker. Ask you butcher for an English cut. It will be 3-4 inches long with a large chunk of meat on top. I like to tie the meat on to the bone before cooking, which makes for a very dramatic presentation.

Serves 5

5 pounds English cut short ribs
Olive oil
2 red onions, sliced thinly
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups chicken stock
½ cup red wine
1 bouquet garni of: thyme stems, parsley stems, 1 bay leaf, 1 rib of celery, 1 rosemary sprig

  1. Preheat the slow cooker to LOW.
  2. Pat dry the short ribs and season with salt and pepper. Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat and lightly coat the bottom with olive oil.
  3. Brown the short ribs until they are brown and caramelized on each side (about 7 minutes per side). Transfer the short ribs to the slow cooker.
  4. Add the onions to the pan, adding more oil if necessary. Sauté the onions until they are very dark brown and limp (about 10 minutes). Transfer the onions to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours.
  5. Gently remove the short ribs and set aside. Strain out vegetables from the braising liquid. Reduce the braising in a saucepan over medium high heat until it is reduced by 2/3 and is very thick and has a sauce consistency.
  6. Serve the short ribs with the sauce and mashed potatoes, pasta or rice.
  7. For a tasty alternative: add the braising liquid to one cup of Root Beer BBQ Sauce. Reduce the mixture over medium heat until the sauce is thick and has a glaze-syrup consistency.

Crunchy Slaw

This tart and crunchy slaw is the perfect foil for the sweet and syrupy Root Beer BBQ Sauce. The two dishes complement each other perfectly. The slaw can be made several hours ahead of serving and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

1 cup grated red cabbage
1 cup grated green cabbage
1 Granny Smith apple, cored but not peeled and cut into julienne
2 medium carrots, cut into matchstick julienne
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons aioli or mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper

  1. Stir all of the above ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Chill and serve.
Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here.
  1. Hi Laura. Great idea for using root beer in a barbeque sauce recipe — and one that I would never have thought of myself. Can’t wait try the recipe!

  2. Hi Laura:

    You say that this sauce can be used for brisket. My question is do you make brisket in your slow cooker? and if not, could you share your brisket recipe because you are so creative.

    Thank you so much


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