Making a good homemade BBQ sauce is one of the best ways to improve your grilling game this summer. Can you just stir some ketchup with spices and vinegar and end up okay? Sure. But if you’re going to take the time to make something at home, you might as well go BIG.

This Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce is HUGE.

It has big flavors and, most importantly, it isn’t knock-your-socks off spicy. The base of this recipe is Martinelli’s Apple Juice or Cider and because it’s made from 100% juice from fresh grown apples, the flavors are a perfect combo. I used the Unfiltered Apple Juice for my version but you could use the filtered version also!

Once you have the sauce mixed up, everything you slather it on will be completely delicious. I tried it on pork, shrimp, veggies, and chicken (my favorite) and all of them were so good. To up the flavors even more, I like to serve a little squeeze jar of it on the side! YUM!

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Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce

5 from 9 votes
Author: Nick Evans
Servings: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
This homemade sauce has heat, but also has a ton of flavor. It’s nicely balanced and delicious on almost anything that’ll come off your grill this summer!



  • 3 cups Martinelli’s Unfiltered Apple Juice
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 habanero peppers, 2 halved, 1 minced
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Martinelli’s Unfiltered Apple Juice


  • In a medium pot, add Martinelli’s Unfiltered Apple Juice or Cider, onions, garlic, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and habanero peppers. For peppers, cut two of them in half and remove seeds. For one, remove seeds and mince.
  • Bring sauce to a simmer and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring regularly. Then remove halved habanero peppers.
  • Let sauce cool and then transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth. (TIP: To cool sauce quickly, pour it into a mixing bowl and stir it over an ice water bath to cool it very quickly.)
  • Strain sauce through a metal sieve to make the sauce very smooth. If you don’t mind a little texture to your sauce, you can skip this step.
  • Return sauce to a pot over low heat. In a separate small bowl, stir together Martinelli’s Unfiltered Apple Juice or Cider and cornstarch. Stir that into the sauce to thicken it.
  • Let sauce cook for another 5 minutes or so (or longer if you want a thicker sauce).
  • Remove sauce and let cool.
  • Use this sauce on a wide range of foods. It’s great on chicken, pork, shrimp, or veggies and is particularly good on grilled items.



Serving: 0.25cups | Calories: 94kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 648mg | Potassium: 255mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Pantry Staples
Cuisine: American

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Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce

As I said, using high quality juice, like Martinelli’s apple juice or cider is very important for this recipe because it makes up such a big percentage of the recipe.

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce
Getting started.

Add the ingredients to a medium pot and bring them to a slight simmer. To control the heat in the habaneros, I recommend dicing one without seeds and then just adding a few pepper halves to the sauce.

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce
Starting the sauce.

Simmer the sauce on low, stirring it regularly, for 25-30 minutes. Then you can fish out the pepper halves. If you were to leave these in, the sauce would be basically a double-dare to eat!

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce
Take out the halves.

Once the sauce is cooked, let it cool. For a quick cooling method, add the sauce to a mixing bowl and place the bowl in an ice bath. Stir the sauce and it will cool down in just a minute or two.

Then you can blend it up!

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce
Blend it up.

If you don’t mind your sauce to have some texture, you can skip this next step, but if you want a smooth sauce, I recommend pushing it through a metal strainer to remove the chunks. Don’t worry. All the flavor is in the liquid at this point anyway!

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce

Return the sauce to a low simmer. To thicken it at this point, I like to add a slurry of cornstarch and Martinelli’s Unfiltered Apple Juice or Cider. You can thicken the sauce to your liking. I like mine on the thinner side.

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce

Grilled items is where the sauce really shines!

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce
One the grill!

Grilled chicken with this Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce and some fresh chopped parsley is about as good as it gets for me this summer!

Habanero Apple BBQ Sauce: This homemade sauce has heat, but also has a ton of flavor. It's nicely balanced and delicious on almost anything that'll come off your grill this summer! |