Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce combines part of the desert southwest and transforms it into a sweet yet smoky sauce that’s perfect for summer barbecues!
In all honesty, prickly pears can be crazy little buggers. They are absolutely beautiful to look at – when on the cactus. But… if you aren’t too careful, and without proper knowledge, they can really tear up your hands.
Last fall, I was fortunate enough to have a family in my area that offered up free prickly pears from their front yard cactus. The kids and I took a large rubbermaid tub, gloves, and tongs and went wild picking prickly pears.
It was a job that lasted several days. Prickly pears have glochids (spikes) that are almost invisible, and can blow in your skin at the slightest hint of wind.
They can stick in your shirt, legs, arms, socks… the list goes on. In other words, it can be a very painful endeavor – picking pears. But the end result can lead to some of the most delicious of foods: Prickly Pear Jelly. Yum!
Prickly Pears on their own (juiced) are delicious – it’s a very earthy flavor.
Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce
Making this prickly pear BBQ sauce couldn’t be easier than tossing a few ingredients together, letting them simmer, and then adding applicable spices.
But first… and most important, is starting with prickly pear puree. Prickly pears can be purchased at local grocery supermarkets in Arizona and possibly even New Mexico. You may also be able to find some in your area if they are growing in front yards or public areas.
Use caution though — I would suggest wearing long sleeves, pants and using very thick gloves to pick. Using a tong and having a bucket is important. They are relatively easy to clean and prepare, with the right tools. Check out some tips here.
Once you have 1 C. of puree (about 1 lb. of prickly pears), it’s time to whip up this sauce.
Bring all of the ingredients together on the stovetop and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree again, then place back on the stove and season as needed, to your liking.
Bottle up and refrigerate until you are ready to use.
Ready to make Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce? Let’s do it!
Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 C ketchup
- 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 C prickly pear puree 1 lb prickly pears, pureed and strained
- salt, to taste
- In a heavy saucepan, add vegetable oil and bring to warm heat.
- Combine the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, bay leaves, paprika, pepper, brown sugar, liquid smoke and prickly pear puree.
- Simmer over medium heat until the onions are tender and the mixture is flavorful, about 15 minutes.
- With an immersion blender or in your blender, puree the sauce to blend in the onions. Pour back into saucepan and add salt to taste.
- Simmer over medium heat another 4-5 minutes until thick and flavored. If a sweeter sauce is desired, add more brown sugar or additional seasonings, to taste.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
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